2. Mr. and Mrs. Hani and the Road to the Founding of Jiyu Gakuen

The founder of Jiyu Gakuen, Motoko Hani was born in Hachinohe City in Aomori Prefecture in 1873 and died in 1957. As a child, Motoko was rather awkward. Yet, she was diligent, and was determined to keep working until she understood things perfectly, which led to her philosophy for Jiyu Gakuen’s education.

After moving to Tokyo in 1889, Motoko learned the basics of magazine editing while studying. In 1892, she returned to Hachinohe, became a teacher, and had a brief unsuccessful marriage. After her divorce, she returned to Tokyo, to begin a new chapter in her life. She was employed as a proofreader at Hochi Shimbun, a leading daily newspaper, and became the first ever female newspaper journalist in Japan.

Yoshikazu Hani was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Mitajirimura which is now called Hofu City. After studying Chinese Classics, he went to Tokyo and joined the Hochi Shimbun as a political journalist. In 1903, the Hanis first published, “Katei-no-Tomo,” a women’s magazine inspired by themes from their new married life. Several years later, they became independent and founded the “Fujin-no-Tomo-sha” publishing company. Through their magazine, they were able to give wisdom and courage to women trapped into old traditions and customs to manage their lives with the resourcefulness available to them.

With the Hanis’ vision that, “improving the home improves society,” they questioned education focused on cramming knowledge into students, and founded Jiyu Gakuen in 1921 to realize a new style of education. They introduced a completely new philosophy of education by requiring students to do things like preparing their own meals, as a way of being connected to their daily lives in a broader sense.

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