History of CAJ


Christian Academy in Japan (then called the Japan Evangelical Christian School) began in 1950 through the initiative of of missionary parents with a desire for their children to receive a Christian education in the English language. The first classes were held in downtown Tokyo with 13 students under the instruction of Miss Nettie Dyk. In the fall of 1951, activated by the faith of Mabel Akichika, the Lord opened the site of an imperial dairy farm in Higashi Kurume, then a rural town in western Tokyo, and the school moved to its present site. Classes were held in renovated dairy barns, a boarding program was started, and by the fall of 1952, the school had 92 students. To meet program needs, a gym was constructed in 1955-1956 (at a cost of $24,500), and the library was expanded to 2000 volumes.

From the late 1950s through the early 1970s, CAJ experienced big changes, including having the student body grow to nearly 500 and expanding the curricular and co-curricular progams. In 1961, the school changed from a parent association to a board-operated school, with board members coming from six missions. From 1961-1972, old buildings were replaced with new classroom buildings, dorms, dining hall, and auditorium. Also during this time, key traditions began, including the alma mater (1960) and Thrift Shop (1962).

A decrease in the yen/dollar exchange rate in combination with a decrease in the number of missionary kids resulted in a decrease in enrollment From the mid-1970s until the late 1980s, when CAJ had an enrollment of 280. Then beginning in the early 1990s, CAJ again experienced big changes, including an increase in student enrollment to over 400, a change in student demographics (with increasing numbers of non-MKs enrolling and with increasing numbers of nationalities represented), a standardized remuneration package for staff, the implementation of Advanced Placement courses, the replacing of key buildings (including the dorms, gym, and classroom building), and the renovation of the auditorium and elementary building.

Since 2000, CAJ has continued to move forward, in part by expanding the student support program and Advanced Placement classes, shifting to board policy governance, changing its legal status, and focusing school improvement efforts on curriculum development, biblical integration, technology, data usage, English language proficiency, and a resource master plan.



  • 2014 Headmaster now referred to as head of school. Robotics club begins. Annex remodeled.
  • 2013 CAJ changes its legal status from zaidan houjin to gakkou houjin.
  • 2012 CAJ begins implementation of updated school improvement plan (curriculum, English language proficiency, data usage, legal status change, resource master plan).
  • 2011 March 11 earthquake/tsunami devastates Tohoku.
  • 2010 High School 1-to-1 laptop program begins.


  • 2009 CAJ closes its boarding program.
  • 2008 Brian Vander Haak becomes headmaster.
  • 2007 Board adopts values statement.
  • 2006 The Board of Councilors begins. The Governor of Tokyo approves the revised Act of Endowment. School begins implementation of updated school improvement plan (curriculum, schoolwide planning and evaluation system, biblical perspective, technology plan, professional development plan, access to counseling).
  • 2004 Mr. Calvin Johnston becomes headmaster. CAJ's Board of Directors moves to policy governance.
  • 2003 Student-led conferences begin.
  • 2002 Work begins on changing CAJ's legal status.
  • 2000 CAJ implements updated school improvement plan (align and document curriculum, enhance counseling, technology training, expand ESL program, consistent appraisal system, staff development policy and program, consistent leadership). CAJ celebrates 50th anniversary. Mr. John Nelson becomes headmaster.


  • 1999 Volleyball and tennis teams win Far East championships. Student objectives developed.
  • 1998 Boys' basketball team wins Far East championship. Dr. Martin Essenburg becomes headmaster.
  • 1997 New Academic Building completed. CAJ implements updated school improvement plan (curriculum assessment and evaluation process, staff development plan, career pathways, integrate language arts/social studies and math/science, technology implementation, assist special-needs students, portfolios, evaluate ESL program, celebrate cultural diversity, professional development program, prepare for Focus on Learning, staff retention plan) following the mid-term accreditation visit.
  • 1996 Judi Mollenkof becomes headmaster. Boys' and girls' cross-country teams win Far East championships. Standardized remuneration package for staff implemented.
  • 1994 Mr. Ed White becomes headmaster. Higashi Kurume Station is remodeled. Girls' field hockey begins a 7-year league championship reign. Senior orals (now know as senior comprehensives) begins.
  • 1991 New gym built.
  • 1990 Old elementary and girls' dorms razed. CAJ celebrates its 40th with These Forty Years.


  • 1989 CAJ Hostel begins. School Without Walls Program (SWiWaP, now known as SWOW) begins.
  • 1988 Shimizu Store is rebuilt. CAJ implements updated school improvement plan (staffing review, academic counseling, curriculum review, Japanese language, teacher evaluation process review and revision, inservice program, student homework load, computerize library collection).
  • 1987 First Christmas Bazaar held.
  • 1986 Celebrity look-a-likes come to CAJ via helicopter. Dr. Bruce Hekman becomes headmaster.
  • 1985 Middle school division established.
  • 1984 Advanced Placement testing starts.
  • 1982 School Support Services begins.
  • 1981 Dr. Claude Meyers becomes headmaster. Dr. Leonard Mollenkof, educational consultant, makes recommendations for facilities.
  • 1980 285 students, with tuition of $1400/year. Wilderness Camp begins. Library has 15,000 volumes. Higashi Kurume has estimated population of 107,000.


  • 1978 Monthly newsletter renamed Knight Sounds. Mr. Royce McCarty becomes headmaster.
  • 1977 The Madrigals begin. Kindergarten added.
  • 1976 CAJ gets accredited by WASC. Mr. Sidney Norman becomes headmaster.
  • 1973 Mr. Jack Jones becomes headmaster.
  • 1972 Home economics/industrial arts wing and auditorium completed.
  • 1971 First senior play, Antigone, is produced.
  • 1970 Higashi Kurume becomes a city, with estimated population of 50,000.


  • 1969 Wrestling team formed. Takamiyama, sumo wrestler, visits. 500 students, with tuition of $375/year. Gym remodeled.
  • 1967 Band program begins. Mosaic (next to Academic Office) created by the art teacher and students.
  • 1966 Typhoon tears off the gym roof. High school boys' dorm dedicated. Staff and students move into elementary/library/office building. CAJ Alumni News first published.
  • 1965 Elementary school and dormitories replace remaining dairy buildings. Basketball team begins 10 years of dominance.
  • 1964 WWII bomb unearthed at the new dining hall site.
  • 1963 Boys' team wins Far East basketball championship. JFK Sportsmanship Trophy given to CAJ.
  • 1962 First PTA Thrift Shop takes place. High school building completed.
  • 1961 CAJ reorganizes the school board, moving to mission representatives from 6 missions. Shimizu's store opens near campus.
  • 1960 Pinecone changed to Matsukasa. Alma Mater composed.


  • 1959 Dr. Martin Essenburg becomes headmaster. School newspaper, Pinecone, renamed as Matsukasa.
  • 1958 Quonsets built for staff housing. CAJ joins the Kanto Plains Association of Secondary School Principals. First Far East tournament.
  • 1957 "Apaches" changed to "Knights" for team name. First Matsu published. First band.
  • 1956 First spring play, He Who Laughs Last, produced. Library expands to 2000 volumes. First student, Alan Lee, graduates from CAJ.
  • 1955 Original gym built; basketball, cheerleading, and choir begin.
  • 1954 JECS renamed Christian Academy in Japan. Mr. Howard Blair becomes headmaster. First drama production, Dickens's Christmas Carol.
  • 1953 First school newspaper, Junior Hi-Lites, published and then renamed Blue and Gold Banner. First school picnic held at Roosevelt Park.
  • 1952 Mr. Virgil Newbrander becomes headmaster. Choral music activities begin. Library has 141 books.
  • 1951 School moves to Higashi Kurume from downtown Tokyo. Boarding program begins. Higashi Kurume has estimated population of 10,000.
  • 1950 CAJ begins as the Japan Evangelical Christian School (JECS) with 13 students. Tuition is $100/year.