A Journey of 150 Years

A Journey of 150 Years
玉もかがみも なにかせん
学びの道も かくこそありけれ

The School Song of Ochanomizu University

※This recording is the performance of the Student Chorus on December 3, 1940, in the presence of Empress Kojun.
1875 -

The Founding and Transition to Women's Higher Normal School

Ochanomizu University began its journey as Tokyo Women's Normal School, established in 1875 in Kandamiyamotocho (now Yushima, Bunkyo Ward, a corner of the area of Tokyo now generally called Ochanomizu). The school was founded to train female teachers and to promote education for women. The first graduating class in 1879 consisted of 15 women. After the name was changed to Women's Higher Normal School in 1890, women all over Japan who were motivated to learn dreamed of attending this school, which was at the time Japan's only public institution of higher education for women. The graduates fanned out across Japan, taking up teaching jobs to cultivate the next generation of educated women. Alumnae of the school include many distinguished scientists and educators, such as Tetsu Yasui, the founder of Tokyo Women's University; Kono Yasui, Japan's first ever female professor; and Toshiko Yuasa, an internationally renowned female physicist.


The government issued an administrative order to establish Tokyo Women's Normal School, the forerunner of Ochanomizu University.


The school was established in Ochanomizu (now Yushima 1-chome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo).


An affiliated kindergarten was established (the first kindergarten in Japan).


An affiliated elementary school was established.


An affiliated girls' senior high school was established (the first girls' senior high school in Japan).


Tokyo Women's Normal School merged with Tokyo Normal School and became the Women's Campus of Tokyo Normal School.


As Tokyo Normal School became Higher Normal School, the Women's Campus of Tokyo Normal School also became the Women's Campus of Higher Normal School.


The Women's Campus of Higher Normal School separated from Higher Normal School and established Women's Higher Normal School.


The first foreign students from Siam (now Thailand) were admitted.


In tandem with the establishment of Nara Women's Higher Normal School, Women's Higher Normal School changed its name to Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School.

Physics classroom

The full view of the school buildings before the Great Kanto Earthquake

1923 -

Recovery from the Great Kanto Earthquake: A New Beginning in New School Buildings

On September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck. School buildings collapsed from the violent tremors. Fires spread from nearby buildings, burning down to ashes all but the main gate and gatehouse. Yet, despite the loss of school buildings, the act of learning never abated. The school rented classrooms from schools nearby and, just two months after the earthquake took its dreadful toll, second-term classes began. Four months later, in March 1924, temporary school buildings were erected atop the fire-devastated ruins of the old. Classes continued on this spot for the next eight years. In 1928, the construction of new school buildings began in Otsuka, where the university now stands. Learning from the hard lesson of the earthquake, the main building, which was the focus of the reconstruction, was completed with steel-reinforced concrete. By August 31, 1932, the construction was completed. In 1936, 13 years after the earthquake, all facilities, including affiliated schools, were furnished with new school buildings. A new chapter in the school's history began.


School buildings were burned down in the Great Kanto Earthquake.

(Main school) Part of the barracks


Celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the University (attended by Her Majesty Empress Teimei)


New school buildings were completed on the current site.

Swimming pool


A reopening ceremony was held at the new school buildings on the current site (Otsuka 2-chome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo).

Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the opening of the University, attended by Her Majesty Empress Kojun

The Visitation of Helen Keller (1937)

Students at practice (needlework)

Supervised teaching (affiliated girls' senior high school)

Joint sports day with all affiliated schools

Emergency drill


An affiliated junior high school was established.


An affiliated senior high school was established (the affiliated girls' senior high school was closed).

1949 -

Towards "Ochanomizu University"

As it started to provide education for women once again in Otsuka, Tokyo Women's Higher Normal School was ready for one final change of its name. With the promulgation of the National School Establishment Act, the school became Ochanomizu University under post-war guidelines. At the time of its application for establishment as a university, the school requested the name "Tokyo National Women's University." Ultimately, however, in homage to the Ochanomizu area's significance as the site of origin of women's education in Japan and of the history of the school, the name Ochanomizu University was adopted.


Ochanomizu University was established with a Faculty of Letters and a Faculty of Science and Home Economics.


The Faculty of Letters became the Faculty of Letters and Education and the Faculty of Science and Home Economics was reorganized to the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Home Economics.


A Graduate School of Home Economics (Master's Program) was established.


A Graduate School of Science (Master's Program) was established.


A Graduate School of Humanities (Master's Program) was established.


Ochanomizu University held a ceremony to commemorate the centennial of its establishment.


A Graduate School of Humanities and Science (Doctoral Program) was established.


The Faculty of Home Economics was reorganized as the Faculty of Human Life and Environmental Sciences.


The Graduate School of Humanities, Science and Home Economics (Master's Program) were reorganized as the Graduate School of Humanities and Science (Pre-Doctoral Program).

2004 -

As a National University Corporation: A Place Where Women Can Realize Their Earnest Dreams

In accordance with the National University Corporation Act, Ochanomizu University became a national university corporation. It was time to declare its mission and reason as a University nationwide and to the world. The mission is encapsulated in the University's motto: "to be a place where all women who are motivated to learn can realize their earnest dreams." Women, not only in Japan but also around the world, of every age and nationality, now had a place that affirms their right to pursue their own studies for the betterment of society and to seek out and tackle their own challenges. The motto vouchsafes the University's determination to always be such a place for women.


In accordance with the National University Corporation Act, Ochanomizu University became a national university corporation.


The Graduate School of Humanities and Science was reorganized.


The construction of Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza, a venue for international exchange with and among foreign students, was completed.


Otowa-kan, a new student's dormitory, was completed.

2025 -

Beyond a Century and a Half: Looking to the Future

In 2025, Ochanomizu University, Japan's longest-serving national university for women, welcomes its 150th year of operation. In preparation for this historic milestone, the University has implemented a wide range of reforms in recent years. In 2020, to achieve "a Diversity-Inclusive University and Society," Ochanomizu University began admitting transgender students. In the 2022 academic year, the University reorganized and established four educational and research organizations and 10 institutes, including the Institute for Gendered Innovations, the Institute for Competency Development, and the Institute for SDGs Promotion. Looking ahead to the 2024 academic year, the University is moving forward with preparations to establish a Co-Creative Engineering Department (tentative name). We recognize that improving the quality of education and research and bolstering co-creation with communities are vital issues for society and the future. Ochanomizu University is committed to fulfilling its role as a place of learning for all women who aim to become global leaders, aspiring to academic achievement and spurring innovation for a better society.