In 1924, six sisters of Notre Dame of Waltham (United States) arrived in Japan to assume responsibility for the college for girls in Okayama. Anti-American feelings were strong at that time in Japan so the sisters concentrated on their principle ministry: education. The first missionaries had acted with wisdom; in reality, education was very important for Japanese society. On December 8, 1941, when war was declared, the American sisters were detained in a camp near Hiroshima. Three Japanese sisters and other educators continued the work of the SNDs in Okayama. When the war was over, the American sisters returned to their convent and school. The government and the people of Okayama admired their loyalty and their devotion to education and responded with respect and gratitude. The Notre Dame school in Okayama became successful.
In a culture where Buddhism and Shintoism ( only .35% of the Japanese population is Catholic), the sisters in Japan are surrounded by associates, often former students having converted to Catholicism, need support for their faith.
At Hiroshima, Kurashiki and Okayama, the sisters have established a strong tradition of excellent schools which are available to youth from nursery school through university level. Some Japanese sisters accompany individuals in Bible study or give religion courses to groups of students.