2020 March 19
Solemn Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary

Dear Lasallians in the Frontlines,

Greetings of peace and well-being! We salute and support your gallant efforts to quell COVID-19 as you perform your responsibilities beyond the call of duty while putting yourselves at great risk. We stand in solidarity with you as part of the health and medical team directly assisting the sick and infected, or as researchers and scientists pressed to review test results or find effective antidotes to the virus, or as round-the-clock logistics and security forces, public servants and volunteers doing your share to reassure the public, restore and maintain order and provide much needed services to everyone.

We are one with you during this very challenging time and assure you of our fervent prayers as your fellow Lasallians in East Asia. We will especially remember you as we pause for a few minutes of quiet prayer daily to remember all Lasallians in the frontlines and to intercede for all those who are working earnestly in many different ways to provide solutions and address the challenges we face.

For you, all Lasallians in East Asia will gather together and by association in their respective homes and communities at around 5:00 p.m. beginning today March 19, feast of St. Joseph, Protector of our Lasallian Institute, and ending on May 15, feast of our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle. May the good Lord ever keep you in the palm of His hand. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Fraternally yours,

Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC


Loving Father, our Lasallian Family draws near to you in fervent prayer for all those affected by COVID-19. 

In FAITH, we lift up to you our fears and anxieties and the sufferings of those who have been infected always remembering that even in our darkest hours we are in your most holy presence. 

In SERVICE, we beg you for strength and wisdom to do all that needs to be done knowing that we can be channels of your healing grace when we do all our actions for the love of you. 

In COMMUNION, we stand in solidarity with all the frontliners who risk their lives for others and pray for all medical teams and support personnel who earnestly seek its cure and provide remedy and comfort to those who are sick and most vulnerable. Most Loving Father we entrust our lives and the health and well-being of our families and communities to your care and protection for with you we will be safe and secure.







JAPAN - I am very happy that on May 15, 2022, the feast day of St. La Salle, I finally became a member of the Catholic Church. I strongly felt St. La Salle's intercession for having a special Mass and baptism for me on such a memorable day.

In Japan, Christians make up less than 1% of the population and the number of Catholics is even smaller. I feel that it has been God's providence that I have been able to choose to live as a Catholic in such a religious environment. I have come to this choice in my life because of my encounters with St. La Salle and other Saints, as well as with several priests, Brothers, and friends.

I was born into a Christian Protestant family. In Japan, "religion" tends to be frowned upon, but growing up in such a family, faith and prayer were very close to my heart. I went to church every Sunday and prayed with my family every day since I was a child. Therefore, I did not have any prejudice against religion like many Japanese people.

Furthermore, I spent most of my childhood in a rural town of Hokkaido. Hokkaido is an area with a harsh climate, especially during the cold and snowy wintertime. The hardness of life in such an area requires a strong awareness of the fundamental human act of "living lives" and a sincere commitment to it. When we face this act of "living lives," we think naturally about the "meaning of life" - why we live. Furthermore, we are made aware of the greatness of nature: the greatness of God who created the world including nature or the smallness of human beings. There is a sense that we are not living by our own strength alone, but are kept alive by nature, by others, and by God. Therefore, feeling grateful for being alive right now is at the root of my own being. In short, my childhood experiences in the wilderness have influenced my spirituality and religiosity.

As the months passed, I left my hometown and enrolled at Hakodate La Salle High School. Since La Salle High School was far from my home, for some time, I even considered going to a public high school. However, I decided to enroll in La Salle High School because I heard that it was one of the best schools in the area and I wanted to go to a Christian school.

On my first days of school, I was led to join the morning-prayer-time at the school’s chapel. I think this was my first time to get to know what ‘Catholic’ means. After that, I continued to participate in the daily morning prayer service. There, I was able to meet Brothers and teachers during prayer time. As I continued this kind of life, Mass and prayer time became important parts of my life. Here, I was never strongly conscious of the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. I naturally became close to the Catholic way of praying and rituals. And through this prayer life, I feel that the dimensions of my faith naturally deepened.

I also had opportunities to go to the Trappist monastery in Hokuto City, Hokkaido, near my high school, for meditation every year. The monks there lead a very simple life of "Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work). I got to know the life of these monks, who were willing to give all of themselves to God, I was strongly attracted to Catholicism.

During these high school years, my encounters with many monks of the Trappist monastery, La Salle Brothers and teachers at school, their way of life and their way of thinking had a great influence on my life and faith. At the same time, I was also inspired by the appearance and tradition of the Catholic Church which is led by the Pope and offers the same liturgy throughout the world. I also became strongly attracted to the Catholic faith, in which each ritual has its own meaning and liturgy. These suited me well.

In particular, I feel that my first experience in the Philippines, which I first visited during high school, was a defining event in my life. I visited there through the De La Salle Brothers network and volunteered mainly in the Philippines as an educational volunteer at a La Salle school in a rural area and as a volunteer for street children in Manila. While I enjoyed my experience there and met many people, I was also shocked to see the disparity and reality. My values were fundamentally overturned, and my own powerlessness brought up various complicated feelings. I was shown a new world that I did not know, and that experience struck me deeply. Furthermore, when I saw the strong faith of homeless people and others who were forced to live in poverty, I became completely confused about my own faith, Christianity, and even the act of what believing itself means. After I returned to Japan, those feelings became even more complicated.

Looking back now, I feel that it was a very difficult time for me spiritually. After that, I had the desire to go back and stay in the Philippines. However, due to the impact of the new coronavirus and other factors, I had to give up the idea. However, I wondered how I could make the impact and happy memories of the Philippines come to fruition in Japan. Or how would I apply my experience in the Philippines to my life in Japan? And how should I live in Japan? In the midst of my doubts and struggles, I continued to pray with the Brothers, and trusting in God completely.

Under the guidance of my teachers, and my desire to study Catholic theology increased, I then decided to study theology. Thus, I enrolled in the Faculty of Theology at Sophia University, a Jesuit university. It is also true that after entering the university, I had many internal struggles and pains due to the effects of the new coronavirus.

And while my desire to convert to Catholicism grew, I became aware that my faith had become formalized. I had never been particularly conscious of being a Catholic or Protestant. However, as my desire to live as a Catholic grew stronger, I sometimes wondered if my faith had become so formalized that I had lost sight of the essence of my faith. In the midst of all this, I met many wonderful friends and teachers. Through them, I received God's grace and they supported my decision that I wanted to live as a Catholic in my own very natural new context.

In particular, I feel that my experience in Nagasaki, which I visited on a pilgrimage in March of this year (March 2022), was the direct event that led me to make the decision to convert to the Catholic Church. Nagasaki has attracted international attention since the Hidden Christian Heritage was registered as a World Heritage site. However, Nagasaki is a unique town in Japan with a long history of Christianity. “Hidden Christians" were people who endured the most systematic persecution of Christians in the world, and some were martyred. But they secretly kept their faith for more than 300 years without priests or other leaders, during the time when the Christian faith was prohibited in Japan.

After the war, even after the prohibition was lifted, the land of Nagasaki experienced many hardships for many people, especially for Christians, such as the dropping of the atomic bomb. During this pilgrimage, I have visited many churches there, prayed and interacted with the people, and have received a lot of hope. I also received a lot of support, especially from the members who went on the pilgrimage with me. In Nagasaki, a place that many people had experienced much despair, I found great hope. It is the grace that comes from God, that is, despair does not end in despair. Just as Jesus' death did not end in death, God gives grace through suffering, and even difficulties are transformed into hope.

I took as my baptismal name: Maximilian Maria Kolbe, the "Saint of Auschwitz". He was also in Nagasaki before his martyrdom in his native Poland. I felt God leading me in this encounter with Father Kolbe, who continued to live the love of Christ in the midst of unimaginable suffering. It was in Nagasaki, a city symbolizing peace and suffering, where I found the source of my baptismal name.

The above is the story of how I got close to Christianity and became a Catholic in Japan. There are many events that I could not write about here, and many feelings that I could not express in my own words. I can honestly say that as I write this, I am not entirely sure why I chose this path and why I have lived the way I have. The only thing I can say is that God has been leading me at every juncture of my life.

I feel more strongly these days that God is mysterious. God gives us his grace in places we never imagined, and in ways we never imagined. In particular, I have received grace through "encounters" with many people.

From now on, I pray that I may trust in the Lord alone who is leading everything and that I may live according to God's will. May I be able to share with others all of the blessings I have received from God. And may I live in gratitude to my family, Brothers, teachers, and friends who have guided me until now.

St. John Baptist De La Salle.
Pray for us St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe.
Pray for us Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever

June 2022
Maximilian Maria Kolbe Keiya Yokoyama

JAPAN - 2022 marks a special year for the Lasallian Family in Japan. It marks the 90th year since the arrival in Japan of the first four Brothers from Montreal, Canada. To celebrate this milestone, the design is made of lines that would resemble the traditional hanko or seal that shows the “carved history” of the Lasallian Mission in Japan.

  1. sakura or cherry blossoms
    In the Japanese culture, the season for the sakura or cherry blossoms signifies a time of renewal and optimism.
  2. Mt. Fuji or Fuji-san
    Since ancient times, Fuji-san is venerated as the most sacred place and an enduring symbol for good fortune and inspiration amidst daily struggles.
  3. crane or tsuru
    The crane or tsuru is considered as one of Japan’s national treasures. It is a symbol of longevity and happiness.
  4. Torii gate
    These are the traditional Japanese gates found at the entrance of Shinto shrines. These gates are believed to act as a passageway to sacred places.
  5. sensu or folding fan
    The folding fan is a common gift to honor births and new life. The blades of the fan symbolize the possible paths leading away from its beginning.
  6. Lasallian Partners and Brothers
    Today, the Lasallian Mission in Japan is animated greatly by the Lasallian Partners and the Brothers. The new challenges bring forth a renewed spirit of commitment to continue providing excellent human and Christian education in Japan.

The design includes different elements alluding to the past, present and future story of the Lasallian Mission in Japan. With this, the Lasallian Family in Japan honors the legacy of those who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to contribute to the Lasallian Mission and inspire those of the present to move onwards to a renewed future with an enriched Spirit of Faith, Zeal for Service and Communion in Mission. (Text: Br. Nico Mariano FSC)

*We would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Earl Marquez for collaborating with us to produce the design for the 90 th anniversary logo.


JAPAN - Hakodate La Salle held its first Sports Day in the snow in four years. It is the only La Salle school in LEAD that has Sports Day / Festival (Intramurals) in the snow!

Both junior and senior high school students participated in three-man four-legged relay, tug-ofwar, and sled relay. (La Salle Japan Official Facebook Page)

JAPAN - Although the Omicron strain is spreading nationwide, with the cooperation of many people, we were able to hold the 60th high school graduation ceremony at our school.

Of the 113 students, 73 were awarded diplomas by the principal, excluding 40 who were absent due to entrance exams.

The former student council president Isaac Takahashi's greetings were full of stories about high school life, as well as encouragement and inspiration for classmates, seniors and juniors, parents, faculty and staff who share the Lasallian spirit. (Hakodate La Salle Official Website)

Source: https://www.h-lasalle.ed.jp/topics/35496/

The Sector of Japan held its annual assembly last 2020 October 17. The assembly started with 8 degrees celsius in Hakodate, 20 in Kagoshima and around 30 in Manila and Singapore. Despite the differences in climate, Brothers Fermin, Rodrigo, Domingo, Aikee, Nico and from the leadership team Br. Armin, Visitor, and Br. Antonio gathered together to share life, to dialogue, and to take action on the issues that are important to the Sector of Japan.

After each Brother gave a short sharing about what was happening with him in the mission, we moved on to discuss and evaluate the seven resolutions taken from the 2019 Assembly. After three hours, and short breaks in between, we were able to identify the next steps and how to be accountable in delivering the resolutions reached during the assembly.

Br. Armin’s final remarks invited the Brothers to keep the Lasallian Mission relevant in Japan and challenged us to explore new ways of serving those in need, apart from the school’s setting.

Thank you Brothers of Japan for making the assembly a meaningful experience. (Text: Br. Antonio Cubillas FSC, Photo: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC)

Excerpts from the Article:

The Brothers of the Christian Schools have a network that stretches across 80 countries, which includes 4,000 Brothers, 90,000 lay colleagues, and 850,000 students.

Last December, two Lasallian schools from across the world connected, as Hakodate La Salle High School spent a week at Christian Brothers Academy for the second year in a row.

Hailing from Hokkaido, Japan, 80 Hakodate students and 10 faculty members, including Brother Fermin Martinez, immersed themselves in the CBA community. Over 40 current CBA families volunteered to serve as host families for the Hakodate boys, and additional CBA students were “day hosts” to show the Hakodate students around the Academy.

The Hakodate students spent each day with their host CBA students, attending classes, lunch and extracurriculars with them. The Academy hosted a short welcome assembly on Monday and a grand farewell ceremony on Friday, which was filled with presentations from both the CBA and Hakodate students and faculty members.

The CBA Pipes & Drums band performed for the Hakodate students, before they returned the favor by playing the CBA alma mater and Star Spangled Banner on the recorder for the CBA community.

The Hakodate students departed CBA with a commemorative “Lasallians Without Borders” shirt, as well as a special certificate to recognize the cultural achievement. 

The unity between the two schools – 6,000 plus miles apart – was impressive to say the least, all thanks to the Lasallian bonds that transcend culture. 

“This week would not be possible without our CBA families,” Brother Frank said. “We are the first Lasallian school to welcome the Hakodate students for this experience. Our parents and students did a tremendous job stepping up to support this unique and tremendous opportunity.”


What the Students Said About This Cultural Experience

“At first, I was overwhelmed by the idea [of hosting four Hakodate students]. What really made this week worthwhile was the school day. It was funny how relatable we were to each other, even though we live over 6,000 miles apart. Just because they may speak differently and look differently, does not mean that we are different. The connections and international friendships created from this event are something that will be remembered for the rest of our lives.” – senior Saverio Caruso

“I was nervous when I found out I would be hosting at my house. I thought ‘what could I have in common with someone from the other side of the world?’ As the week progressed, however, I found the answer was quite a lot. Sharing a passion for music, sports and games, I learned that we live very similar lives, and above all, live by the same principals that LaSallian education instilled in us. By the end of the week, we were no longer strangers, we were brothers.” – senior Jack Hipschman

“Welcoming two Hakodate students, Koki and Yudai, into our family for a week was an amazing experience. Our family was not only able to show Koki and Yudai American culture in our daily life, but we were able to learn about the values they upheld. This experience gave me a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture and I am grateful for spending time, sharing laughs with, and making lasting bonds with our Hakodate brothers.” – senior Aedan Moran




JAPAN - Last November 26, the Brothers of the Sector of Japan gathered for the sector Assembly. As we frequent the future, the former Superior General Br. Bob Schieler, reminds us that a Brother filled with Christian hope not only lives differently but makes a difference in the lives of others. "I challenge you, Brothers, to live differently. Our faith inspires us in Jesus Christ, and Prayer is our primary source of renewal." (Pastoral Letter 2021, p. 5-6).

Borrowing that attitude of Christian hope, the Brothers in the sector shared their reflections and decided on small next steps to respond to the needs of the mission. Planning for the succession of the Lasallian Mission in Japan remains a priority. (Text: Br Antonio Cubillas FSC; Screenshot: Br Abet Pia FSC)

JAPAN – On March 4, 2022, 94 Lasallian Partners from Japan (57 from Kagoshima and 37 from Hakodate) and four Brothers currently assigned in the sector participated in a year-end Lasallian Formation session. The invited speakers were Br. Jorge Gallardo FSC and Br. Gustavo Ramirez FSC who addressed the group virtually from Rome and Mexico.

Br. Gustavo made a concise presentation on the recent document on the Identity Criteria for the Vitality of Lasallian Educational Ministries. He presented the different sections showing how Lasallian schools can develop in order to fulfill their mission. Br. Jorge continued with sharing his reflection on how the Lasallian education today must build “new paths” which transforms the lives of our students and of others, especially the poor in our societies and communities. He reminded the participants that the founder was an innovator of his time and invited the Lasallian partners in Japan to follow suit. With a strong sense of the fraternal spirit, support and discipline, the Lasallian partners in Japan can overcome the challenges of the Lasallian Educational Mission today and in the future.

We thank Br. Jorge and Br. Gustavo for initiating these conversations and reflections for the Lasallian Partners and Brothers in Japan. As we celebrate soon the 90 years of Lasallian Presence in Japan, we remember and continue to draw inspiration from the excellent contributions made by the first Brothers and Lasallian Partners in Japan. We look forward to working with hope to another 90 years of providing quality human and Christian education for the youth in Japan. (Text: Br. Nico Mariano FSC; Photos: Br. Antonio Cubillas FSC)

JAPAN - The other day, the Mission Club was given a grant by the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer Alumni Association for their work in supporting the technical intern trainees from overseas. They received the “Reiwa 3 Subsidy for Junior and Senior High Schools Volunteer Activity Project”.

The purpose of this subsidy is to provide financial support to junior high and senior high school students who engage in activities that discover and resolve issues in the local community. On behalf of the club, Satoshi Kishimoto received the grant from the representatives of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer Alumni Association.

"I used to think that when you did something good for someone else, you should be rewarded. But I don’t think like that anymore. Through these activities, everyone cooperates and knows that this is truly helping people and will lead to a better future. We need to raise awareness.” Kishimoto said. He hopes that his juniors will continue what they have started. (Hakodate La Salle Official Website)



The Hakodate La Salle Mission Club had their weekend training camp last September 26-27 at the Laura Farm in Hakodate, Hokkaido. It was a day of prayer, games, reflection and community building attended by 8 students, Mr. Deok Bosco Han and Br. Rodrigo Treviño FSC. With the theme, ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’, 22 Vietnamese internship trainees who are active in the local parish also interacted with the students and staff. Despite a forecast of strong winds and rains, the weather was clear until the end of the activity. (Text: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC; Photos: Mr. Deok Bosco Han)



September 13, 2020. Since arriving in Japan, much has been shared to me about La Salle Gakuen’s taiikusai—the school’s yearly athletics festival. The pictures from before were impressive but I was also sure that having the first-hand experience would be incomparable! However, such excitement was dampened with the threat of the coronavirus as the school year started.

The school’s stakeholders worked together to make sure that the taiikusai pushes through but it was obvious that the same taiikusai would take on a “different face” for this year. With the understanding and cooperation of everyone, measures had to be taken to prevent a coronavirus infection. The taiikusai would be closed for outside guests, including the students’ families and friends.

This “different face” did not seem to bother anyone during the day. It was “refreshing” to see our students outside of their classrooms and out in the sun. The games were fun and competitive. The families and friends watching via livestream were in for a treat since the students gave quite a spectacle during the cheering competition that they can be truly proud of!

This year, the white team won against the red team but the real winners for this year’s taiikusaiwere the La Salle Gakuen’s students who did not give in to the uncertainty and fear surrounding them but rather showed their zeal to celebrate and live the Lasallian Family Spirit! (Text: Br. Nico Mariano FSC; Photos: La Salle Japan Facebook Page)



Last February 19, the members of our English Debate Club in La Salle Gakuen had an online interaction with the members of the Zobel Parliament Debate Society. They were able to exchange stories related to the practice of English debate and ask questions about each other’s culture. Special thanks to Ms. Addie Zaballero and Mrs. Nette Torrato of De La Salle Santiago Zobel School!

Here are some of the comments of the students from Kagoshima:

“It was fun but I was very nervous.” “They were friendly and kind so I hope that the interaction will continue. We hope to visit the Philippines or that they visit Kagoshima whenever possible.”

“I felt the Lasallian family spirit. There are many schools in La Salle worldwide and we hope we could have more opportunities to interact with students from different countries.”

(Text & Photos: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC)



JAPAN - October 1st of 2022 will be a date that will stay in the memory of many Hakodate La Salle rugby players for years to come. On that day their playground was blessed after fulfilling the decades-long- dream of putting artificial grass on the turf.

This was a dream that players and coaches had for 55 years. The rugby varsity began in the school in 1967. One zealous teacher managed to put natural grass around 1975 but players using the ground for practice every day, the “living” grass did not resist and soon it faded away.

Mr. Jumpei Usami, an alumnus of the 37 graduation and now an English teacher here, for 11 years he has been teaching during the day and after lessons coaching the clubs for both sections: junior and senior rugby players. The varsity senior boys have been already three times to the National Rugby Tournament and four times to The New Teams National Tournament. “Noblesse oblige”: Mr. Usami has been a key coach and mentor to his players. The “Usami Way” works!

This year Mr. Usami “heard” of a businessman who had said he would make a donation that could cover more than half of the cost of making the playground green. The potential donor has no Lasallian relation. Mr. Usami met the man and promised to raise the remaining cost through donations from among former players, parents and friends. Mr. Usami was convinced that he will find generous “small” donors. He believed the project was worthy to fully engage in, not just for the sake of the sport but also for the benefit and educational process of teenagers. Despite the disbelief of the viability of such endeavor even among people related to the Hakodate La Salle rugby community, he went bowing his head down before many people asking for financial support.

The work began and day by day for a month; the scenery began to change. Finally October 1st arrived. The ceremony began with the benediction rite presided by the parish priest (Father Sukegawa) followed by words of thanksgiving and congratulatory messages. Finally: picture taking.

Schools with rugby teams in the District will be welcome to come and play rugby in the most northern community of LEAD. One for all, all for one! (Text: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC; Photos: La Salle Japan Official Facebook Page)

JAPAN - On Thursday, August 11, from 15:00 to 17:30, "Let's Think about Peace" organized by Hakodate La Salle High School Mission Club was held connecting Thailand, Philippines, and Japan via ZOOM.

The participants present were: Br. Benilde from Thailand, Br. Labelle and Br. Aikee from the Philippines, Br. Rodrigo from Japan, members of Hakodate La Salle Mission Club, mission schools teachers and students in Hokkaido, and Ms. Nundalay, a graduate of Bamboo School and working at La Salle, Sangkhlaburi School, and 20 other participants.

Br. Benilde from Thailand Bamboo School talked about how the school started and what their day was like. Ms. Nundalay talked about what happened before and after they encountered LaSalle Bamboo School. After the presentation, the Q&A session was followed by questions about the relationship between Myanmar and Thailand, what was it like before and after COVID-19, etc.

After a short break, the participants had an hour-long breakout room to share their thoughts on how they felt after listening to the presentation, what their thoughts are on peace and had they changed in any way, and what they could do to help.

Below are some of the feedback from those who participated in this event:

  • We can teach each others despite differences in religion, language, and country. I realized that "knowing" is the first step toward connecting with others.
  • I now have a guideline to know and act as my own action from now on.
  • It was encouraging to learn that high school students are thinking about civility and peace on their own and practicing their own activities.
  • Hearing the stories of the local people, I realized how important the Bamboo School is to the local children.


Live Jesus in our hearts, forever! (Text & Screenshots: Mr. Deok Bosco Han)

JAPAN - 2021 is the third year in a row that the sector of Japan holds the Sector Assembly. The Leadership Team joined Brs. Fermin, Rodrigo, Domingo, and Nico to dialogue about the current and future issues of the future of the Lasallian Mission in Japan. Br. Armin renewed the challenge to explore a new apostolate for LEAD Lasallian Mission outside the established apostolates.

In preparation for the 90th Anniversary of Lasallian presence in Japan, which will be on 2022 October 22, the Brothers are preparing some projects to emphasize the history and future of the Lasallian Mission through the role of the Lasallian Family in Japan. One of the projects is the translation of 100 Lasallian terms into Japanese from the recent Institute documents; for example, the Declaration (2020). La Salle in Japan throughout the years is a project with teachers, alumni, and Brothers to gather information and present a timeline through pictures and short videos. The Brothers in Japan also decided to make a sustainable donation to the Brothers’ Scholarship fund for our Lasallian schools.

Next March 2022, there will be a Lasallian Formation session with all Kagoshima and Hakodate schools and dormitories. This will be the first time in many years with a joined formation session. Hopefully, this can become an annual tradition. (Text & Photo: Br. Antonio Cubillas FSC)

JAPAN - Last March 4, La Salle Kagoshima hosted the webinar, “The Global Trends & Strategies to Ensure the Lasallian Character”. The two invited presenters were Br. Ricky Laguda FSC, General Councillor for the Asia Pacific Region, and Mr. Timothy Goh, Principal of St. Stephen’s School in Singapore.

Br. Ricky Laguda shared the current thoughts/ideas of the Lasallian Educational Mission in the 21st Century through a brief orientation of the most recent document called the “Declaration.”

Mr. Timothy Goh, who was until recently the principal of St. Joseph’s Institution Junior in Singapore, shared some of the best practices implemented in his school as response to the new normal.

There were more than 80 participants from the administrators, teaching and non-teaching staff of the school. (Text & Photos: Br. Antonio Cubillas FSC)

JAPAN - Here in Hakodate La Salle (HLS), day by day we find good news coming from among our former students. This month, in one of the national popular magazines, three of our alumni appeared. They are two years younger than me, that is, they are 69. From the right, Mr. Kikuchi, is a lawyer, who just finished as President of the National Lawyers Association. The one in the middle is Mr. Nakagawa, a surgeon, and he has been elected President of the National Surgeon Association a few months ago. These days he is often on national TV news because of COVID-19. On the left is Mr. Makita. He is a doctor too. He is a specialist on diabetes and has his own clinic in Ginza (the most expensive quarter in Tokyo). He has written some 18 books. They got together in a restaurant where the picture was taken.

Being old friends since senior high years, they often get together to chat and dine. The three of them were boarders, which explains the human relations they have developed over the years going back to the days they were at Hakodate La Salle. Their relations as teenagers bind them together beyond ordinary friendship. Many of the boarders consider their roommates and classmates of the same grade more than friends. Their boarder experiences foster bonds that enable them to treat one another without using the word "brother" but it is implicit in their relations. Also, I dare to say that they got together to celebrate Dr. Nakagawa’s recent appointment as President of the National Surgeon Association. Mr. Kikuchi and Mr. Nakagawa, as Presidents of National Associations, are public well-known figures. Freelance and news writers are avid to get their hands on opportunities like this to write.They were seniors when the Student Revolution spread around the world in the early 70’s. The school was not able to hold commencement that year! (Text & Photo: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC)


JAPAN - The Hakodate La Salle Rugby Varsity has already a history of over fifty years. The school has boasted about having more clubs than many other university-bound high schools in the country. Obviously, the results are that among the alumni no one has become a professional sports player. Hakodate La Salle Boys join cultural or sports clubs to give them a more balanced student life.

22 years ago, the school opened the junior high section and some of the existing clubs also opened a junior high branch in their clubs. Boys who play for six years on the same sport in their clubs obviously bring new strength to that sport inside the school. The rule is that ordinarily any cultural or sports club members cannot go beyond two hours of training in a day. The obvious reason is simple: they also have to study. Our school is not a sports school!

However, the junior high rugby boys began to mature as they went from becoming the third place in the prefecture (there were only three schools with rugby teams!) and after some years they became “running up-champions”! Now, for several years already they have been “The Number One team” in the prefecture. However, they had so far failed to reach the nationals. From those years of training and as most of the players continue to play rugby as senior high students the big team has become stronger. Five years ago for the first time the team defeated the 15-year-streak prefectural champion and made their first appearance at “Hanazono” in Osaka in 2015. The following year once again the Rugby Boys won their ticket to the Nationals. This autumn, after a gap of two years, once again the name of Hakodate La Salle will be for the third time in the booklet for the National Tournament.

As other varsities in the school, they also keep the golden rule to practice for two hours at most after school. Even if there is rain, wind or snow it does not prevent them from practicing. They play for the love of the game.

Hopefully after COVID-19, one or more teams from within LEAD or PARC could come to Hakodate and establish fraternal bonds through rugby. (Text & Photos: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC)

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japan rugby

japan rugby






Brother Armin visited Hakodate La Salle, the most northern school and community in LEAD, from February 12 to 15. He arrived via Tokyo on the 12th in the middle of winter. Since he comes from the “paradisiac Manila” he brought some warm wind that might have made the temperature rise to nine degrees during those days --- a rather unusual temperature for the season; and curiously enough, after he went back, the weather forecast was more “snow again!”.


During his visit, Brother Armin addressed the staff of the school during the daily morning general meeting. His words will remain in the memory of some of the teachers, especially those who feel how Hakodate La Salle could be more integrated to our school network as an “association for the educational mission” for the youth in The Lasallian World. The presence of Brother Visitor has become indeed AN ICON OF HOPE for us here in Hakodate.

Brother Visitor also joined us during morning prayer at school. Four or more boys came to pray at the school chapel. There, Brother Armin greeted a student and a teacher who had been to the Philippines as volunteers.


Brother Armin had the opportunity to meet the two Brothers in the community as the main purpose of his pastoral visit. Different issues were discussed namely, the future of education in Japan (specifically in our boarding school), the strengthening of association and collaboration within LEAD and Japan, religious education, Inter-LEAD exchange programs, Lasallian formation and our commitment with La Salle Home in Sendai.

The vice principal and the head teacher joined us for dinner at the Brothers house. The barriers of language soon faded away and the Lasallian “language” gained strength and understanding as we shared our meals.


Hakodate La Salle High School was founded by the French Canadian Brothers in 1960. After four years, it became a boarding school only for boys and has remained providing the same brotherly environment till now. 21 years ago we opened the junior high section for teenagers and now two thirds of the students spend 6 years with us. Needless to say, at the end of their Lasallian experience, all these students feel they are brothers with a common new family name: Lasallians.


Moreover, we took Brother Armin to pay his respects to the founding Brothers at their tomb.

We cannot thank the Brother Visitor enough for coming. We will be expecting Brother Armin's return to this community with his choice from any of the four seasons we enjoy here. (Text & Photos: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC)



I have always been curious how people outside truly perceive our school. While it is said that the school is well known, I was lucky to have witnessed how a television company covered and told the story about our school to the public. As far as I know, we did not pay anything for this nationwide program so I thought that it was a good chance for an objective appreciation. The 2-hour special program by BS TV Tokyo was called, ‘The名門校:日本全国すごい学校名鑑’ (The prestigious school: a list of Japan’s amazing schools). The teaser online said, “Many famous schools are not just schools with high numerical standards. We will show you the school’s teaching styles, rules, facilities, extra-curricular activities, and alumni network. We will also show you the secrets of super high schools such as Kaisei and La Salle. Discover the foundation behind the amazing high schools who currently shape not only universities but also modern Japan!” So last January 5, I rushed home just so I could catch the show at 7:00 p.m.

Five schools were featured – Hokurei HS (Sapporo), Yokohama Suiran HS, Kaisei HS and Seijo HS (both in Tokyo) and fortunately of course, our school in the far-flung city of Kagoshima. The school feature started with the boys happily singing the school anthem aboard the ship for a field trip and of course it showed interviews and snaps of the students’ daily life in school. They talked to famous alumni (a former government minister, a corporation president) and a doctor who was an alumnus and our current PTA Chairman. His father was also an old boy and his son currently studies in the school. He said he loves the school because it is in the rural area (maybe because the atmosphere allows students to concentrate on studying), and that because of the diversity of students who come from various prefectures, many experiences are possible.

One interesting point I thought they highlighted was how the blackboards are very long. I didn't know it was unusual until I watched the show. The students related that tests are very frequent - weekly, especially for the senior high school. The worldwide nature of De La Salle as a religious congregation was also featured and its two schools in in Japan, the other being in Hakodate. As Br. Domingo, the current Principal, showed the Brothers’ House, he was also able to introduce the Founder, and explain the values of Faith, Service and Fraternity (Communion), and ‘family spirit’, a popular invocation in the Japanese Lasallian Family.

A considerable amount of time was spent to feature the dormitory life of more than half of our students. There is a cut-off time for them to exit the dormitory so that they wouldn’t be late in the morning and the camera crew even caught the students who were so late, they were not able to wear their socks properly. It showed the size of the common bath and the scale of the laundry services. They focused on one student who is such a huge fan of a female celebrity, he has covered his walls with her posters and his cabinets with fan stuff. On the other hand, rules in the dormitory were also explained e.g. ban on mobile phones, private TV sets and comic books. When this was said, the hosts of the show seemed surprised. It also showed that while there was mandatory study time at the common area in the evening, some students still continue studying privately in their rooms and even wake up early in the morning to study again for at least two hours.

The ‘other side’ of course was presented, with students enjoying the famous sports festival in the region and the walk around the Sakurajima volcano in December, among other extra curricular activities. The feature ended with meaningful reflections from the students. One said that being in La Salle enabled him to have many amazing experiences. Another said that the dormitory life taught him cooperation, friendship, and brotherhood among his classmates. I wasn’t too sure in the end if any secret to the success has been revealed but I thought that the highlighted parts of the school were of course very noteworthy to the eyes of the Japanese people. Surely, this was a good kick-off to start the year and of course, a beginning reflection as we honor the achievements of the Brothers and Partners who have worked hard ahead of us. May this inspire all members of the Lasallian Family in Japan as we anticipate the 70th Founding Anniversary of La Salle High School in Kagoshima and 60th Anniversary of Hakodate La Salle, both in April of this year!

Service and communion, the spirit of La Salle, is being practiced here in Hakodate, Japan. Currently, the country is under the state of emergency, and there is no work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the vulnerable people are those affected the most. Some of these belong to the families of our Youth Exchange program.

So, on May 30, volunteers of our Catholic Youth Group from La Salle Hakodate, Hokkaido University of Education, and Vietnamese members, provided food assistance good for two weeks to 36 people. Br. Rodrigo Treviño FSC, principal of La Salle Hakodate, also helped with the food aid.

We are currently providing food aid through donations. So far we have received rice and cup noodles from the food bank, disaster crackers, 20 loaves of bread from King Bake Corp., and sanitary products from Ms. Sasaki. Thank you very much! If there is anyone who can help us with donations, please contact us.

You are part of the miracleOur Vision, Our Passion, Our FutureLive Jesus in our hearts. Forever! (Text & Photos: Mr. Deok Bosco Han)

JAPAN - On July 28, the Hakodate La Salle Mission Club extended help to 25 foreign technical trainees who were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers and students pooled resources to buy food supplies and distributed it to those in need. The said club participates in the international immersion program by the diocese annually but has since been postponed due to the travel restrictions. (Text: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC; Photos: La Salle Japan Facebook Page)

Hakodate La Salle Mission Club Helps Out

Hakodate La Salle Mission Club Helps Out

On January 14, as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, junior high school students and teachers of La Salle Gakuen, Kagoshima, formed the image of St. La Salle at the school field. Without a separate practice day, they asked the students to line up, to trace the provided trail, to stand and to wave at the cameras – all in 35 minutes. Efficient as always! (Text & Photo: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC)

JAPAN - La Salle won the top prize in both the junior high and high school divisions.

In the junior high school division, Mr. Adachi, a junior at La Salle Junior High School, gave a presentation on "Global Energy Issues.

In the high school division, La Salle Mission club students presented "Think Globally Act Locally (Toward the realization of multicultural conviviality)”.

Mr. Ishimaru, Director of JICA Hokkaido, an alumnus of Hakodate La Salle, came as a judge.

We hope that the students will be able to apply what they discussed in their presentations in the real world. We have high expectations for them.

De La Salle Brothers, in your 91st year of coming to Japan, we are very much looking forward to our journey as Lasallians.

Live Jesus in our hearts forever! (La Salle Japan Official Facebook Page)

JAPAN - As featured in a regional newspaper, Br. Rodrigo and the other members of the Catholic Church in Hakodate expressed solidarity and extended help to mostly Vietnamese and Filipino workers in the midst of the COVID-19 woes. Coordinated by Yunokawa Parish and together with Lasallians from Hakodate La Salle, they checked on the foreign workers, collected and distributed food supplies to those who needed it. (Text: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC; Photo: Hokkaido Shimbun / Hokkaido News)

JAPAN - On October 16-17, the Hakodate La Salle Mission Club held a two-day agricultural volunteer program at Lola Farm, an organic farm, to deepen their interest in "food" through food loss. Every year, the theme of the training session remains the same: "What is the purpose of human life?” We think about it through food in this time. Rather than throwing away the vegetables harvested here at Lola Farm because they were out of specification and could not be sold, we thought that we could change something by cooking them. After dinner, each of us reconsidered, "What people are living for," as Ms. Han introduced her one-year experience at an AIDS hospice in South Africa. We hope that the program will give each student the courage to feel something and start moving.


Live Jesus in our hearts, forever! (Text & Photos: Mr. Deok Bosco Han)

JAPAN - Since the foundation of the La Salle Gakuen in 1950, then Brother Principal Marcel Petit encouraged the students to share clothing and daily necessities with the poor who were still restarting their lives after the war. These were collected in baskets before Christmas and given to those who needed it. Since its revival in 1993, the Mothers’ Association, PTA and the alumni have supported this student-run project. This annual fundraising and volunteering activity has helped countless local charities and has sustained support to the projects of De La Salle Solidarieta Internazionale ONLUS.

This year, despite the challenges of COVID-19, the students soldiered on showing their commitment to animate the spirit by organizing selling booths and events for their fellow students and teachers. (Text: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC; Photos: La Salle Japan Facebook Page)

JAPAN - The Hakodate La Salle Mission Club asked Br. Nico Mariano FSC’s help in connecting with Br. Lucas Ah Do FSC of La Salle Myanmar. Through Zoom, we asked Br. Lucas to teach us simple Myanmar language and culture. We knew a little bit more about Myanmar through the Q&A session.

Why are we studying about Myanmar? Because the students of La Salle Bamboo School in Thailand come from Myanmar. Burmese is their mother tongue rather than Thai. It was an hour and a half of surprise and learning.

Br. Lucas, thank you very much. See you again on April 29 or 30 via Zoom. (La Salle Japan Official Facebook Page)

JAPAN - We were allowed to use the La Salle chapel and gymnasium. 13 Japanese (Hakodate La Salle High School, Iai Girls High School, Chubu High School, University of Education JICA) and 13 Vietnamese members joined us in the morning via Zoom.

We had talks by Fr. Yamauchi SJ and Sr. Valeria (Canossian) from Tokyo. Fr. Lam OFM from Sapporo gave us a peace message, and everyone prayed for peace while thinking about it. At the end of the session and in candlelight, each person’s prayer was placed on the altar, and we had time to unite for peace.

After the self-introduction and sharing at lunchtime, the participants enjoyed a sports exchange. In the afternoon, we deepened exchanges beyond language barriers through various sports events. We are happy if we were able to give people the courage to take action and make things sustainable.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever! (Text & Photo: Mr. Deok Bosco Han)

Education journalist Toshimasa Ota in January 2021 released a book entitled, ‘Top 10 Super Preparatory Schools Showdown’, where he featured an in-depth analysis of public and private high schools in Japan who have shown impressive passing rates in the country’s competitive universities and public medical school examinations.

Toshimasa presented separate rankings for those who have successfully passed the entrance examinations of The University of Tokyo (for the east), Kyoto University (for the west), and 50 Public Medical Schools, and a summary comparison which spanned from 2016 to 2020. La Salle Gakuen in Kagoshima ranked in the Top 10 spot in the final analysis.

In his online articles, Toshimasa said that until the 1960s, the public schools used to be at the top of the rankings but from the 1980s, the private schools gained significant traction. For the University of Tokyo, most of the top schools were private schools for boys. La Salle Kagoshima landed in the Top 13 on that list. For Kyoto University, the public schools fared better due to the expansion of the school districts in Kansai in recent years.

For the public medical schools ranking, La Salle Kagoshima was ranked as the Top 4 in the list. While La Salle Kagoshima used to rank higher in Tokyo University in years past, the new ranking in the public medical schools reflects the shift in career goals, mainly in the field of medicine, as a response to the increasing needs of an aging population.

One of the school’s former pillars, Br. Marcel Petit FSC, wrote in a 1983 Lasalliana article, “[In Japan, Catholic] schools are operating under a handicap, which only a high reputation, based upon academic superiority and excellent moral training, will enable them to overcome. Catholic schools must be outstanding schools if they wish to succeed.”

As the school celebrates its 70th founding anniversary, Br. Marcel’s words continue to be an enriching piece for reflection, not only for the school community but also for the Lasallian mission in Japan. (Text & Photo: Br. Aikee Esmeli FSC)

(Original articles may be found on the following links. If opened through a Google Chrome browser, a rough English translation option would be available.)


"入試直前おさらい 最難関国公立大学合格ランキング”


La Salle Gakuen’s 70th batch of senior high school students in their graduation ceremony last February 10

The First Four Brothers: (from Left to Right) Br. Marcel, Br. Laurent, Br. Daniel, and Br. Liguori


Excerpts from Br. Andre Labelle’s article, “Japan - 80 Years of Lasallian Presence"

Four Brothers from French speaking Canada (Montreal) came to Hakodate in northern Japan, at the invitation of the Canadian Dominican Fathers responsible of the Catholic Church in that region in order to open a Catholic school for boys in that city. In 1934, a nice and wide piece of land was bought and plans were discussed. Unfortunately for various social reasons, to open a school was impossible, and the Brothers transferred to Sendai in 1936. A small language school was opened there, but soon, in 1936 and 1940, two of the Brothers were sent to different cities in Manchuria (China) joining other Brothers coming directly from Canada to teach in seminaries held by French or Canadian missionaries. A third Brother of the four was sent with the first Japanese postulant to Indochina, for his novitiate, and remained in Kuala Lumpur so he could come back with him at the end of the novitiate in 1941. But in 1941, war began in South East Asia.

“The foreign missionaries were incarcerated in concentration camps, either in Japan or Manchuria from December 1941 to August 1945. One of the two Brothers in Manchuria died in 1943 in the concentration camp. As for the Brother in Malaysia, he was not allowed to go back to Japan till after the war. Those four years were, for all, very difficult ones. It was only in 1946 that a work began for a new. First, an orphanage in Sendai in 1948 came up, then a school in the south of Japan, Kagoshima, in 1950. It was followed by a Brothers’ House in Tokyo, with an attached university students dormitory, which later were transferred to Hino, a suburb of Tokyo. And, at last, the desired school of Hakodate could open in 1960, after 28 years of waiting. Among those 28 years, 10 years were needed for the land, bought before the war, to be given back to the Brothers. And with God’ grace, organized by our Alumni, the school celebrated, in 2010, its golden jubilee.

JAPAN - Before coming to Japan as a lay person or as a Brother, I liked flowers as most people do. I lived in a culture where there were flowers in the house only for certain occasions or in churches or chapels. To have flowers meant to go to the market and buy them or the easiest way, to order them through a shop. People around me at home or in our communities didn’t grow flowers for inside decoration. In other words, to have flowers or not was the way to live ordinary life.

I arrived in Japan on August 26 of 1987 and soon I began to see the role of flowers in different ways even in ordinary life. One of the new words I learned was “生け花” (ikebana) which literally means - living flower(s). This is one of the arts people have cultivated for years in this country. I became interested to appreciate the role of flowers in daily life. I must confess that I have never taken any class or course on putting and arranging cut flowers in a vase. After four months in Japan, I gave it a try and put together my first and “original” arrangement. From the very first time I did not follow orthodoxy; I did not use flowers but two branches of Japanese maple and one of ginko. You can see me in that old picture of 34 years ago. That was the beginning of something new to me.

I have come to discover that putting flowers together in “my way” have helped me contemplate the beauty of each blossom or the combination of different shapes, dimensions and colors, even if I don’t follow the rules of the traditional Japanese delicate art of ikebana. I play with what I get my hands on from the flowers in our garden. Now, I know this is not just cutting flowers and bringing them inside. I actually grow most of the raw materials for the arrangements I do. In other words, gardening and flower arrangement have become part of my daily life.

I have reached the point that, in doing these two things, I consider them to be the integral part of a therapeutic technique that pays well for my health. The more I get involved working with plants, the more I discover that it is a way to keep connected with mother nature. I cannot help it but I came to understand how the person becomes someone that bridges nature, humans, and the Creator. I am immensely grateful to discover and practise this down-to-earth and simple theological journey. Most probably if the Lord had not have brought me to this land, I would have continued to see flowers just as flowers.

Putting flowers inside the house, I make an environment that pleases my own eyes and perhaps the eyesight of people living together with me. When I put flowers in the chapel, I feel that I am not alone; nature is also praising the same God.

Here in the northern part of Japan we enjoy the four seasons. Each season produces different flowers (except winter) that help me become more imaginative in how I can put the flowers together. Any arrangement even using the same type of flowers will look different depending on the vase I use. Vase and flower combination produces a unique sense of harmony. One of the Japanese ikebana secrets is the use of “kenzan” that holds the flowers vertically and allows you to bend the position of flowers. The kenzan is a piece of metal that has many nails inserted, allowing you to play with flowers and the vase to produce something original.

Finally, I insist that what I do with the flowers has no right to be called “ikebana”. But if you insist, you can call them “unorthodox” ikebana. I hope you will be able to see flowers in a different way. And what is more, buy a kenzan and give it a try! (Text & Photos: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC)