7th November 
The History of Fuji St. John's School PART 1

  Since it was after the war and there were many war orphans, she also took over the nursing home "Aiseien" which was moved to Kodaira. After her return to Japan, Sister Okamura was known as Mother Okamura, and while attending various Catholic-related meetings as the President of St. John's Society, one day, at a meeting of Catholic children's homes, she was troubled by the treatment of intellectually handicapped children in these homes. The topic of how to deal with these children in these homes came up, and since Sakuramachi Hospital has a psychiatry department, a request was made for the St. John's Society to establish a home for the intellectually handicapped children. Mother Okamura prayed, deliberated, and made a decision to respond to this request, and in 1956, she opened "Konohara Gakuin," a facility for these intellectually handicapped children in Hachioji. This was the first facility established by a social welfare corporation in Tokyo, and also the first Catholic facility for children with disabilities.

 The building was gradually damaged and deteriorated, and the area around the facility, which used to be a quiet area, developed into a bustling environment with increased traffic. In addition, the facility was originally built on a slope, which was dangerous for children with severe disabilities, so it was decided to relocate the school and they started looking for a new location.

 At first, they looked for another site in Tokyo, but could not find anything suitable in terms of cost and size, so they used the then-new Chuo Expressway and relied on the help of kind people to look for a site in the neighboring. At last, they came up with several candidates in Yamanashi Prefecture, and decided that the land in Oshino Village, adjacent to Fujiyoshida City, where the current school is located down from Route 138, would be suitable. The land was large enough, and although there was the TEPCO's high-voltage tower and power lines in the middle of the land, as long as no buildings were built under the tower, it was fine.

 When the acquisition of the land was decided, the name of the new facility was discussed at a board meeting, and it was suggested that the name of the area and the St. John's Society should be included, so the name "Fuji St. John's School" was decided upon.

 The first phase of construction began in October 1971, and when they started digging a little, they hit volcanic rocks, so they had no choice but to use dynamite, which was dangerous, so they put full tatami mats on top of the rocks, enclosed them, sounded a siren, and then crushed the lava. The sound was so loud that even from a distance it was frightening. Because of this, the building process took a long time and due to rising costs of building materials, they had to suspend construction after the first phase. A temporary bridge over the Katsuragawa River was used for the time being, and later, with the cooperation of many people, a new, magnificent bridge was built.

 In 1972, it was decided that the first move would be from the newly established Adult Division, and taking into consideration that children were to be up to 18 years old, the Adult Division had a capacity of 50 students, 25 male and 25 female, and where there was a shortage, it was decided to accept adults on a waiting list via the welfare office in Tokyo. In addition, 50 students with relatively minor disabilities were moved to the newly built children's building (the former Suginoko and Satsuki dormitories). As the staff quarters were not ready in time for the first phase of construction, the second floor of the convent was provided for the female staff, the sisters made do with bunk beds on the first floor, and the male staff used the second floor of the central building. A priest from Fujiyoshida Church graciously came to say mass every morning, and on his way he also went to say mass at the Salesian Sisters in Yamanakako.

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