The following is a longer version of the eulogy that was read by Shaney Crawford at the funeral of the principal of Tsukuba International School, Mr. Masayasu Kano, on March 24, 2011. (The version read at the funeral had to be shortened due to time constraints.)
Mr. Masayasu Kano was born in Chiba Prefecture. There were four children in his family, two boys and two girls. He was the younger boy and the youngest child. He attended Chiba High School and went on to do a bachelor’s degree at International Christian University in Tokyo where he met the woman who would later be his wife, Chieko.
After graduating from ICU, Mr. Kano decided to go to El Salvador as an overseas volunteer. (Chieko, meanwhile, went to Malaysia.) He taught Japanese there for about four years. Upon his return, he started to work as one of the founding teachers of Meikei High School, a new private school that had been established by graduates of the University of Tsukuba.
Mr. Kano continued working at Meikei for 29 years. He probably would have continued working at Meikei for the rest of his life if he did not somehow find himself attending a meeting one day in 2007 where people were talking about international schools in Tsukuba. Tsukuba had had an international school since 1992, but the person who had been running the school as a volunteer for 15 years had found out that he was being transferred to Kobe, and could therefore not continue to manage the school. For some reason, Mr. Kano decided that this was an opportunity he couldn’t resist and he decided to take over the running of the school.
As a result of that meeting and the decision that came out of it, countless lives have been changed. Tsukuba now has an international school with an impressive two-storey ten-classroom building made out of logs imported from Finland. The school now has 9 full-time teachers, 7 part-time teachers, 1 part-time office assistant, and two full-time administrators to support its 84 students from 61 families. Tsukuba International School owes its very survival to Mr. Kano, and every success that the school has celebrated over the past three years can be directly attributed to him and his passionate decision to adopt our school in 2007.
For someone who had no children listed on his family register, Mr. Kano certainly had a lot of sons and daughters. In the three years that I knew him, I don’t think a day went by when he didn’t mention one of his former students at Meikei. He was so very proud of all of their accomplishments, and he made a point of keeping the Meikei family informed about the activities of the school. If we ever needed help or advice, he always knew just the right Meikei graduate or staff member to ask. Also, whenever the members of the Meikei family visited our school, they would mention all the ways that Mr. Kano had helped them and inspired them in their lives. I truly believe that the Meikei network has played an essential role in the growth of Tsukuba International School. While my school has nowhere near the same size and distinguished reputation as Meikei, I hope that we can be thought of as its younger sister school.
During Mr. Kano’s time at TIS, he took a personal and passionate interest in the lives of every single one of the students. He interviewed every potential student and remembered their histories in great detail, although he had a funny habit of mixing up their names. (It was a funny quirk of his that he always had problems with names, but never forgot the people behind them.) He was also great at getting things for the school, although some might say we have too much stuff now! You could always tell that he was pleased by the way that he encouraged us with his particular way of saying “sure” and “good”.
I know that I am not alone in thinking of Mr. Kano as a father figure and a positive influence in my life. I cannot even begin to count the number of lives that Mr. Kano touched. In fact, after I sent out emails to tell people that he had passed away, an unbelievable number of people reported that they were completely shocked because they had just spoken to him that day or the day before. Even in the aftermath of the earthquake, Mr. Kano continued to take care of the school and his beloved home in the woods. I just found out recently that he had offered the principal of Tohoku International School in Sendai a place for his family to stay while they recovered from the shock of the quake. He was a tireless and quintessential networker, one of the most hospitable people I have ever met, and dedicated to making the world a better place.
In truth, Mr. Kano had thousands of children, and the people who make up Tsukuba International School were just the latest to benefit from his power, and vision, and passion. I am not sure that anyone will ever be able to match his contribution to my school’s community. However, despite this great loss, we, the staff and students of Tsukuba International School are committed to carrying forth his dream and his mission. As hard as this will sometimes be, we will do our best to build a school that Mr. Kano would remain proud of.