History of Gakurin Seminary

History of Gakurin from its inception to the present day is presented here.

1964 (Showa 39)


[Announcement on the Establishment of Gakurin Seminary]

In the New Year’s issue of “Yakushin”, Rissho Kosei-kai’s Founder, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, mentions the idea of establishing Gakurin in his New Year’s Guidance entitled “Let us be the Kosei-kai of the world” (excerpted below).
In his Dharma guidance, Rissho Kosei-kai Founder Rev. Nikkyo Niwano states, “We would like to build a foundation for the next 100 years of Rissho Kosei-kai by discovering and training future leaders with a keen sense of the times from among young practitioners of Buddhism across the country. It is an advanced education and training center for Buddhist practitioners and future leaders. Gakurin seminarians will further their studies in specialized fields such as politics, economics, law, and sociology, while at the same time, they will spend a certain period of time living and eating together for thorough training and practice of Buddhism. The goal is to educate and train a person who is a “pioneering leaders of the Bodhisattva path (leaders among Bodhisattvas) who can serve, guide and lead people unquestionably in “body, speech and mind.” I want the youth to broaden their horizons further, to have ideals on a larger scale, and to work toward the great ideal of transforming the spirit of humankind for the realization of world peace. We must understand each other, join hands together, and combine forces for the happiness of all humankind. In this regard, I greatly look forward to your arousal, young men and women.”
Apr. 8

[Inauguration of Gakurin]

The inauguration ceremony of the Gakurin held in the main hall on the fourth floor of the Great Sacred Hall on April 8. About 150 people attend, including Rissho Kosei-kai Founder Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, and Gakurin Lecturers Prof. Fumio Masutani, a Buddhist scholar and professor emeritus at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Prof. Haruo Komatsu, a political scientist and professor at Chuo University, Prof. Kogen Mizuno, a professor at Komazawa University (absent that day), and youth leaders including university students in Tokyo.

[Beginning of the designation “Honka” (main program)]

The academic system and educational curriculum of Gakurin Seminary were drastically reformed, and the two-year program was transformed to a three-year program, with two years of specialized courses and one to five years of research courses. Eligibility for application was also expanded to include not only university graduates, but also outstanding youth leaders who were active in local Dharma centers and other domains.
Jun. 1

[Beginning of the tradition of missionary practice at local Dharma centers]

Gakurin Seminarians sent to branch dojo for the first time for missionary practice.
New courses offered include: English Conversation (by Dr. J. Flaherty), Introduction to Religious Institutions (by Mr. Miyabe, General Affairs Department), Kosei-kai Basic Teachings (by Mr. Amaya, Director of Dharma Teaching Department), English Reading (by Mr. Nezu, Director of Kosei Publishing House) and English Composition (by Mr. Miyasaka, Director of Kosei Publishing House).


Mar. 23
“History of Buddhism” by Prof. Yoshio Nishi, Professor of Toyo University and Buddhist scholar, begins.
Mr. H.B. Gilman and Ms. P. Fierroe, Unitarians join as new English conversation instructors.


In late August, Gakurin seminarians make a pilgrimage to Shichinkaku and Mt. Minobu. Ms. Etsuko Nagamine and Ms. Heistein join as English instructors.
Rissho Kosei-kai Chairman Motoyuki Naganuma gives lectures on “History and Teachings of Rissho Kosei-kai”.


Apr. 1

[The First President]

The Board of Trustees of Rissho Kosei-kai announces the establishment of Gakurin’s President system, and Rev. Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai, is appointed as the first President of the Gakurin Seminary.
Apr. 8
Inauguration Ceremony of Gakurin President. The ceremony held at Gyogakuen.
Oct. 15
The 6th and 7th classes of the Honka Program dispatched to the secretariat of the 1st World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP/Religions for Peace) held in Kyoto, Japan.
This is the beginning of the tradition of dispatching Gakurin seminarians to international conferences related to inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.


Courses on “The Lotus Sutra” and “History of Indian Philosophy” offered by Prof. Yoshiro Tamura, a Buddhist scholar and professor at the University of Tokyo, and Prof. Hidetomo Kanaoka, a scholar of Indian philosophy and professor at Toyo University, respectively.


Dec. 1
New Gakurin Lecturers: Mr. Chutaro Ogawa, Kendo (Japanese Martial Art) Honorary Master of the Metropolitan Police Department; Rev. Dale Kenneth, Lutheran Seminary; Prof. Yoshiaki Iizaka, political scientist and professor at Gakushuin University; Prof. Kazuo Kasahara, historian and professor emeritus at Tokyo University; Prof. Masao Kunihiro, TV anchor, advanced simultaneous interpreter, anthropologist; Honorable Yasuaki Teramoto and Shodo Taoka, calligraphers; Mrs. Kenzo Kaneko, Kendo and Hiroshi Konuma join the faculty of the Gakurin Seminary.


Apr. 8
The Gakurin Flag Ceremony held. It is presented to Gakurin President Rev. Nichiko Niwano by Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, the founder of Gakurin, during the Ceremony of the Buddha’s Birth.
Aug. 22
The ceremony to welcome the first 18 students of the Women’s Special Training Course.
Inauguration of the Gakurin Women’s Special Program
Mr. D. Reed and Mr. Kenichi Iwasa join as new Gakurin instructors, and Ven. Shinko Mochiji (Nissei) on Nichiren’s Teachings.


Apr. 8
The first six students of the “Yo-ka (later called “Koju” University Program) enter the Gakurin Seminary. The Gakurin Koju Program is inaugurated.
New Gakurin Lecturers include: Mr. Keisen Kihara (Japanese Traditional Culture Art of Tea), Mr. Kazuyu Toyama (flower arrangement), Ms. Kietsu Fujiwara (Psychology), Ms. Tominiko Morito (counseling), and Mr. Hiroshi Ito (counseling). In addition to the above, 13 professors/lectures join in the Honka Program.


Prof. Yoshiaki Sanada, a law professor at Chuo University, Pastor Mullins of the Anglican Church of Australia, and Mr. Shinkan Nishikido, a Buddhist statue sculptor, join the Gakurin faculty.


Jan. 17
The Buddhist Pilgrimage to India by the 13th students of the program. This becomes the beginning of the tradition of Gakurin seminarians’ visit to Buddhist historical sites in India.
Apr. 26
The 1st Gakurin Kendo Tournament is held.
New Gakurin Lecturers including Prof. Norio Tonoki, a sociologist and professor at Waseda University; Prof. Haruo Sagaza, a professor at the School of Human Sciences, Waseda University; and Prof. Shigeko Tanaka, a professor at the School of Human Sciences, Bunkyo University, provide guidance to seminarians’ specialized researches.


Apr. 8
Gakurin 15th anniversary celebration at Horinkaku Guest Hall. Buddhist scholar Prof. Kogen Mizuno, a veteran lecturer at the Gakurin Seminary since its founding, delivers a commemorative lecture.
The 14th class of Gakurin Honka Program visit China as part of the “Asian Friendship Association” delegation.
Professor Xie Shihui, a physicist and professor at Tokai University, joins as a lecturer.


Prof. Kikuo Yamaoka, professor at Waseda University, an economist and theologian, and Rev. Dr. Allen, pastor of the Unitarian Church of Hawai, join as Gakurin lecturers.


Dec. 28
Dr. Tomonobu Shinozaki, a seventh class of Gakurin, receives a doctorate in religious ethics from Vanderbilt University Graduate School of Religion and Ethics in the United States. This becomes a pioneering case of Gakurin seminarians’ receiving doctoral degrees.


The 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Gakurin held at Horinkaku Guest Hall.


Mar. 20
President Rev. Nichiko Niwano receives an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the Salesian Pontifical University of Italy.


Jul. 31
The 22nd and 23rd Classes of the Honka Program participate in the North American Convention of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF).

1989 (Heisei 1)

May 20
Enshrinement ceremony of the Buddha focus of devotion held at Gyogakuen.
May 28
A ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Gakurin held.


Mar. 23
25th Class of Gakurin Honka participates in the Catholic Focolare Movement and its World Youth Convention in Rome, Italy. This becomes a pioneering dialogue and exchange between Gakurin seminarians and Focolare youth.
Jun. 30
Gakurin public lectures held with Prof. Yoshio Nishi, Professor Emeritus of Toyo University and Buddhist scholar, and Prof. Tokuo Satomichi, Professor of Toyo University’s Faculty of Literature.
Dec. 6
The first “Musashino Walk” held. President Nichiko Niwano and his wife participate, walking from Kosei Reien in Higashiyamato City to the headquarters of Rissho Kosei-kai. The history of the “Gakurin Walk” begins.


Students from the University of Tokyo’s Department of Religious Studies visit the Gakurin and engage in a dialogue with the Gakurin seminarians. Afterwards, Prof. Susumu Shimazono, Professor at the University of Tokyo, joins as Gakurin lecturer.
Nov. 24
Groundbreaking ceremony for the Hoju Women’s Vocational College conducted.


Dec. 1
Inauguration of the second Gakurin President, Rev. Hiroshi Niwano, replaced the first President. [The Second President of Gakurin Seminary]


The first group of seminarians from overseas enter Gakurin Seminary.
Apr. 7
Entrance ceremony for the first term of students of Hoju Women’s College of Information and International Studies held.
A ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Gakurin Seminary held.


Jan. 29
The 31st Class dispatched as volunteers for the rescue and rehabilitation work after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
Apr. 6
Gakurin Seminarians receive Rissho Kosei-kai international Sangha leaders from across the world.
Sep. 11
A training session for Intra-Buddhist dialogue and cooperation held. (Hieizan, Tenrikyo, and the PL Order).


34th class dispatched to China as part of the “Japan-China-Korea Buddhist Friendship Exchange Program.
Dec. 11
English Presentation Forum. This becomes the beginning of English Presentation Forum that continue to this day.


The name of the Gakurin Yoka changed to Gakurin Koju (brightening the world), named by Rev. Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai and the first President of Gakurin Seminary.


Sep. 15
Rev. Dr. Tomonobu Shinozaki becomes the third President of Gakurin Seminary.
[Third President of Gakurin Seminary]


Apr. 17
Inauguration of the Kansai Koju-kan.
Dec. 19
40th anniversary of the founding of the Gakurin Seminary held.


42nd and 43rd classes sent to the 8th World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP/Religions for Peace).
The 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st classes of the Koju participate in the Religions for Peace Global Youth Assembly as volunteers.


Aug. 16
Gakurin seminarians participate in the Middle East Reconciliation Program (Israel-Palestine youth).
Beginning of the Gakurin Lotus Scholarship.
Four first-term Gakurin Lotus students selected.
Prof. Toshio Koike, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo (since 2008) and Prof. Tadao Saito, Professor Emeritus of Tohoku University (since 2013) appointed as selection committee members.


Apr. 9
Welcomed the Israeli-Palestinian Youth Delegation as part of the Middle East Reconciliation Program.


Mar. 25
Gakurin Ome Campus newly established in Ome Rensei Dojo (Ome Retreat Center), and the Gakurin Dormitory and Gakurin Buildings were opened.
Apr. 5,6
Received German inter-religious delegation and held an exchange meeting.
Jun. 6
“Gakurin Sangha Gathering,” celebrating the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Gakurin, held at Horinkaku.
The 45th and 46th Classes visit Israel as part of the “Middle East Reconciliation Project. In the same month, they also visit Italy to engage in dialogue with the Catholic Focolare movement.


Gakurin seminarians participate in ARMS DOWN campaign, an international multi-religious youth disarmament campaign.


Gakurin seminarians dispatched as volunteers to the affected areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake in April and June.
Dec. 1
Inauguration of the fourth Gakurin President, Rev. Munehiro Niwano. [The Fourth President of Gakurin Seminary]


Sep. 24
50th and 51st Classes visit the Buddhist Association of China.
The 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Gakurin Seminary held at the Great Sacred Hall.

2019(Reiwa 1)

Feb. 14
Gakurin-sponsored symposium: “Considering the 100th Anniversary of Rissho Kosei-kai: Welcoming Prof. Lee Barker, President of Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary” held.


56th, 57th, and 58th Classses and 28th Classs of the international seminarians’ program dispatched to the “9th Asian Conference of Religions for Peace in Tokyo.
Dec. 1
Rev. Kyoichi Sugino inaugurated as the fifth president of Gakurin Seminary. [The Fifth President of Gakurin Seminary]


Mar. 3
Gakurin Koju New York English Training Class begins.
Lecture by Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, former Vice-Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Religions for Peace International Honorary President, and Bishop Emeritus of Oslo, Norway held.
Lecture by Mr. Toru Kuroe, former professional baseball player, for students in the Koju High School Program and Kosei High School held.
Lecture by Bishop Munib Younan of Jerusalem, Middle East held.
Koju Almni Network Roundtable Discussion held.
Gakurin Koju University Program Specialized Research Presentation Forum held.
Lecture by Mr. Somboon Chumphreempree, Executive Director of the International Network of Buddhists (INEB), held.
New lecturers on political science Prof. Masaya Kobayashi, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Chiba University, and on communication theory, Mr. Hajime Ozaki, Editor-in-Chief of Media Strategy Information, Kyodo News, and former New York and Geneva Bureau Chief, Israel join Gakurin.


Gakurin Public Lecture on the World’s Religions-Christianity offered by Prof. Renta Nishihara, President of Rikkyo University.
The Gakurin-International Network of Engaged Buddhists(INEB) coorganize the first International Young Engaged Buddhist Leaders Forum.
The Gakurin Seminary is a global training center for
engaged Buddhism and interfaith action.
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