116th Homecoming Day

Tohoku University celebrated its 116th anniversary with Homecoming Day festivities on October 29. This year also marked the 110th anniversary of the university's first female students, and the centenary of its first female liberal arts student.

In his opening speech, Tohoku University President Hideo Ohno explained how Chika Kuroda, Ume Tange and Raku Makita came to be Japan's first female university students in 1913, when they were accepted to what was then known as Tohoku Imperial University.

"The Ministry of Education sent a letter to the university asking why women were being allowed to take the entrance examination. However, Tokiyuki Hojo, who was university president at the time, made the wise decision to admit the three students anyway," he said, adding that Kuroda, Tange and Makita were pioneers in more ways than one. "At a time when it was difficult for women to enter the workforce, these three women became the first female bachelor's degree holders and left their mark on Japanese history by paving the way for other women to succeed."

President Ohno also spoke of the university's efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), such as issuing action guidelines on gender equality in 2013 and publishing a DEI declaration last year.

"The world is entering a period of great change, and it is essential to create an environment in which diverse people can maximize their abilities to create value for society," he said. "Promoting diversity, fairness, and inclusiveness under the philosophy of "open-door" is also extremely important, as we work towards achieving the status of an "International University of Research Excellence."

Princess Kako, the second daughter of Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko, was a special guest at the ceremony.

In a strong speech, she called the admittance of the three female students "an important step" for Japan. "There is a lot of social pressure shaped by prejudice in all situations, not only against women or related to the field of science," she said. "Such pressures limit the possibilities and options for individuals, and cause individuals to limit their own possibilities and options."

She added that having an environment where people can contribute different abilities and exchange a wide variety of ideas is important as it leads to new perspectives and values. "In this context," she said, "Tohoku University is actively working to change the status quo for the better."

Following speeches by Senior Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoko Fujie, and Director of the Tohoku University DEI Center, Professor Mami Tanaka, the ceremony concluded with the presentation of several awards.

These included awards to international alumni and special partners who have helped to raise the profile of Tohoku University around the world.

Tohoku University International Award (individual category)

  • Dr. Gargi Keeni (India)
    Former Vice President, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
    International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
    Member of the Chairman's Advisory Group (CAG), International Electrotechnical Commission
  • Prof. Ruttikorn Varakulsiriputh (Thailand)
    Vice President for International Relations and Scholarship, Thai-Japan Institute of Technology

Tohoku University Alumni Activity Award (association / group category)

  • Tohoku University Alumni Association in Indonesia
    Ikatan Alumni Tohoku University (IATU)

Winners of the international awards will be invited to Sendai in December for a special ceremony and get-together.

There were also awards recognizing individuals and groups for their efforts in the promotion of DEI activities.

Sawayanagi Memorial DEI Award

  • Prof. Ginko Kawano, Yamagata University
    "Promoting Gender Equality in Science, Technology, and Education"

Sawanagi Memorial DEI Encouragement Award

  • Zhang Rui, Tohoku University Graduate School of International Cultural Studies
    "A Study Toward the Systematization of the Women's Liberation Movement of Zhou Zuoren: The Lifelong Discourse Movement and the Locations of the International Knowledge that Supported It"
  • Hokkaido University LGBTQ Circle Rainbow Gathering (Niji-no Tsudoi)
    "Promoting Understanding of Sexual Minorities and Creating a Place for Them"

Homecoming Day continued in the afternoon with a panel session led by Satoshi Kato, special advisor to the president and head of the Tohoku University Archives. They looked back on the academic journey of Kuroda, Tange and Makita, and discussed the 110-year history and achievements of the female students who came after.

The Tohoku University Women's Alumni Association, known in Japanese as Shirankai (紫蘭会) - was also officially launched, with a logo consisting of three blooming purple orchids spreading outwards. Tohoku University alumna and former mayor of Sendai City Emiko Okuyama, will serve as its first president.

All day outdoors, in the open space beside Hagi Hall, attendees of Homecoming enjoyed "Kizuna Marche," a collection of stalls selling food, baked goods and various Tohoku University merchandise.

The Tohoku University PR department's mascot Kenichi made two brief appearances and was also a hit.


Tohoku University Alumni Association
Tel: +81 22 217-5059

Tohoku University International PR Section
Tel: +81-22-217-4816

Page Top