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Tohoku Gakuin University (TGU) is located in the city of Sendai, approximately 200 miles north of Tokyo, near the Pacific Ocean coast. It takes only two hours by bullet train from Tokyo to reach this economic and cultural center of northern Japan, which has nearly one million residents. Sendai dates back to 1602 when the Date Clan moved to Sendai and built Aoba Castle, which still stands in the heart of this historical castle town.
TGU was founded in 1886 as a boys' school. It is now the largest private university in northern Japan. TGU and Franklin & Marshall College have had a special connection from the beginning: The founders of TGU were William Hoy of Mifflinburg, Pa., an F&M alumnus; and Masayoshi Oshikawa, a Japanese Christian. Another F&M alumnus, David Schneder of Bowmansville, Pa., shortly joined the faculty and became president of the institution for 34 years. A total of sixteen alumni of F&M have served on the faculty of Tohoku Gakuin. One of these faculty members from Kinzo Kaneko, the son of a samurai, who graduated from F&M in 1891 as valedictorian.
Accounts of the roles of Hoy and Schneder in the history of Tohoku Gakuin University can be found in two books by William Mensendiek: Not Without Struggle and A Dream Incarnate.
Each summer, Franklin & Marshall hosts a group of students from TGU's American Studies program. In conjunction with Ursinus College, Franklin & Marshall offers courses, field trips and homestays to these students to further their understanding of US culture and society. In turn, Franklin & Marshall students can experience Sendai during the summer through the F&M in Japan program.