Sister Beatrice Tanaka

Sister Beatrice Tanaka honored for distinguished service in Japan

Sister Beatrice Tanaka’s many years of remarkable service in primary education in Japan earned high honors from the Japanese government.

Sister Regina Kabayama (left) and Sister Beatrice Tanaka (right)

Sister Beatrice received the Zuihosho Award and Medal, bestowed by the minister of education on June 27, 2011, in Tokyo. With the other award winners, Sister Beatrice was received into the royal court of their majesties, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who addressed the honorees. The award is given to individuals, corporations and other organizations for distinguished contributions in the field of social conduct.

“I think that the award is not only for me but for all the teachers and staff members who have supported, advised, encouraged, understood, cooperated and made efforts with me for many years,” Sister Beatrice said. “The honor should also go to the people who worked for the school in the past and are now in heaven.”

Love of Teaching

Sister Beatrice was born in Kyoto, Japan, into a fervent Catholic family. In 1958, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and, in 1961, she made her first vows. In 1965, she was assigned to Notre Dame Elementary School in Kyoto as a teacher. She loved teaching and guided her children with both firmness and gentle care.

Sister Beatrice with students

She became the principal of the school in 1982 and initiated and developed many unique programs, including in-service teacher training, a course in manners and religious education using Japanese culture and tradition, a course in respect for the natural environment at the Mountain House and a program that gave teachers the opportunity to go overseas to broaden their perceptions. She also established a five-day school week.

Sister Beatrice currently principal emeritus of Notre Dame Elementary School and serves as local leader of Matsugasaki Convent.

People talk about Sister Beatrice as a principal who performed outstanding work vigorously and cheerfully. In addition, children enjoyed a close relationship with Sister Beatrice, who always took time to listen to and pray with them. The children searched for Sister Beatrice every morning so that they can have a chat with her.

Furthering Blessed Theresa’s Mission

“Since the first four sisters came to Japan from the St. Louis Province in 1948, an outstanding achievement for the education of Japan has been made,” Sister Beatrice said. “They built the foundation of Notre Dame education in Kyoto with the spirit of Virtus et Scientia (Virtue and Knowledge), Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger’s educational philosophy.

“Therefore, I believe that Blessed Theresa and the first four sisters in Japan were present in receiving the award with me. With profound gratitude, I will devote myself to the School Sisters of Notre Dame and its primary education in Kyoto.”

By Sister Johanne Kokubun, SSND