/ Center for Global Engagement


Like many immigrants in the 19th century, young Japanese embarked on a long and unknown journey to the United States hopeful for a better future.

A drawn map of the Hope College campus in 1875

Ryoza Tsugawa, Kumaji Kimura, and Motoichiro Ohgimi were the first to arrive in Holland, Michigan, invited by the generosity and forward vision of President Philip Phelps.

While Kimura and Ohgimi are appropriately referred to as the first international graduates of Hope College, it is important to recognize that Ryoza Tsugawa was the first Japanese student to study English at the preparatory school of Hope College in 1869.

Kumaji Kimura and Motoichiro Ohgimi spoke introductory English at best as they made their way from Yokohama Harbor to San Francisco and New York City before arriving at President Phelps's home in Van Vleck Hall in 1871. Their journey is a testament of courage and resilience as they traveled to the United States in search of new opportunities, encountering hospitality and hope, and developing a deep commitment to the Christian faith along the way.


The Hope College Archives and Special Collections has several collections on the early Japanese students, missionaries in Japan, books, and many photographs. The Archives are open to the public, and inquiries are welcome.