Here is Yae helping wounded soldiers during the Sino-Japanese War.

Here is Yae helping wounded soldier on during the Sino-Japanese War.

The Tea of Neesima Yae and Urasenke (Pt. 3)
As a Volunteer Nurse

On January 23rd, the 23rd year of Meiji, NEESIMA Jou, who had been running himself ragged establishing Doushisha University, died far away in Oh’iso. He was 47 years old. The cause was acute peritonitis, but on top of that illness was layered the stress of his work. (Cf. YOSHIMI ditto) Having spent 14 years together–good and bad–weathering the adverse social conditions towards Christianity, Yae was deeply grieved. She preserved a lamentative memorial book of “my most beloved friend” called “Notes on the illness on my beloved deceased husband Jou”. But even through this loss, Yae picked herself and without complaining renewed her efforts to pave the way for Doushisha’s operation.

One thing she did in April of the same year is become a member of the Japanese Red Cross Society, and work hard on the front lines as a volunteer nurse during the Sino-Japanese War. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out, again, she worked there. For her meritous service, she was awarded the Order of the Sacred Crown Seventh Class in Meiji 29 and then the Order of the Sacred Crown Sixth Class in Meiji 39, and she received numerous honours from the Japanese Red Cross. The Order of the Sacred Crown was established in Meiji 21 and until recently was an honour reserved for women. At the time of its creation, it had six classes and was awarded to members of the imperial family, but in Meiji 29 it was changed to eight classes and that is era when Yae was conferred the honour.

In the 19th year of Meiji, Doshisha with NEESIMA Jou as its first principle, founded the Doshisha Hospital along with the Kyoto Nurse’s College, very soon ushering in modern nursing education. The Japanese Red Cross Nurse’s Education School, which was the predecessor to the Charity Hospital started at the Kumamoto Western School, wasn’t begun until four years after this, in the 23rd year of Meiji. Yae’s aspiration as a volunteers nurse was likely to carry on through the Red Cross NEESIMA Jou’s dying wish to make the future a brighter place.

篤志看護婦として
同志社に大学を設立するため奔走していた新島襄は、明治二十三年一月二十三日、大磯に客死した。享年四十七。原因は急性腹膜炎であったが、病気がちの上に過労が重なっていた(吉海、前掲書)。キリスト教に対する世の逆風を受けながら、十四年間の苦楽をともにした八重の悲嘆は深く、二月十日には、「我最愛之友」を失った慟哭の手記「亡愛夫襄発病之覚」をしたためている。それでもなお、失意の中から立ち上がった八重は、同志社の経営にはあえて口を挟まず、新たに活躍の場を拓いてゆく。
そのひとつは、同年四月に日本赤十字社の正社員となり、篤志看護婦として日清戦争に従軍した看護活動である。日露戦争が始まると、ふたたび従軍。その功績によって、明治二十九年勲七等冠章、明治三十九年勲六等宝冠章を叙勲し、日本赤十字社からも数々の栄誉が与えられた。宝冠章は、明治二十一年に制定され、現在に去るまで女性に与えられる勲章である。制定時の等級は勲一等から勲六等で、皇族方が授与されていたが、明治二十九年に勲六等から勲八等までが追加制定され(内閣府HPより)、八重の叙勲となったもののようである。
同志社では明治十九年に、新島襄を初代校長とする京都看病婦学校ならびに同志社病院を設立し、いち早く近代看護教育に着手している。熊本洋学校に始まる博愛社病院を前身として、日本赤十字社看護婦養成所ができるのは、その四年後の明治二十三年のことである。八重の篤志看護婦志願は、先見の明を備えた新島襄の遺志を、日赤の場において受け継いだものといえるだろう。

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