Nagoya American Dependent School History

Opened: January 1947
Closed: 1958

Beginning in the spring of 1946, qualified teachers and administrators were recruited through midwestern college placement services in the US and through special bulletins in the Stars and Stripes and on American Forces Radio overseas; however, Japanese nationals, military personnel and their dependents manned schools exclusively until the first civilian civil service employees arrived in October 1947. The first dependents arrived in Japan on May 10, 1946. Nagoya Hall in Nagoya, Japan was the setting for an American School in January 1947. The first year the school enrollment was 9 nursery students, twenty-nine kindergarteners, sixty-two in grades one through six and 20 students in grades seven through 12. Classes met for half-day sessions. Major O’Brian, the school board president, conceived the idea and presented a Monte Carlo night, which gave the school enough money to buy equipment and pay teachers for the following year.

In September, the school opened at a new location with temporary teachers, paper salvaged from the docks by Comfort Bock, the principal and a gross of pencils donated by the Coca-Cola Company. The regular teachers arrived from the states in late October and a shipment of books was received.

The 1948-49 yearbook, Torii, highlighted the field trips taken by the school.

The elementary, junior high, and high schools remained in the same building until October, 1949, when continual expansion necessitated two separate buildings. Also, the inconvenience of having both schools together prompted the move. The high school, grades seven through twelve, moved to the Mitsui Bussan Building. There they took over the third and fourth floors of the Japanese office building and established the school as it now stands.

According to the yearbook:

During the first semester of school year 1952-53, the entire high school was cooped up in five small rooms while the new school was being built. It was fascinating to watch the school to be shoot up behind the fence enclosing it. First, up went the familiar Japanese construction poles, tightly lashed together with rice straw rope, and then little men were swarming all over them. As they worked, the construction went fast from a few sticks to a completed new building with most of the modern conveniences available in Japan. There is a big sunny library with many of the newest books. The spacious auditorium in which all of the school assemblies are held serves as a recreation room. During the lunch period the students congregate there to play ping pong, shuffleboard and various other games. There are five other large, well-lighted rooms, including a well-equipped chemistry and physics laboratory. About the only problem in the new school was the crossing of the cold hall connecting it with the old elementary school, but a quick shiver and hurried steps were the solution, if one wished to go to the office.

The 1953-54 yearbook stated:

That bumpy bus ride over rough reads, the excitement before a basketball game, the nervous scratch of pens during an exam1—these will make some of our Nagoya memories. Nagoya American School is American, but with a difference. The typical stateside pattern of tardy slips, pep rallies, and homework here joins hands with our neighbors over the fence the world outside American Village. Our school memories widen to include that other world of shuffling geta, the mournful cry of the noodle man at night, and the spirit of the Ginza. Our school year and Japan become one, and we cannot separate our memories.

The 1958 Torii “…was our sayonara: sayonara to Nagoya High School, to Nagoya—and for many of us-—sayonara to Japan.”

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