About Tenri University

The Founder of the University

Shozen Nakayama,The Second Shimbashira

In 1925, the Second Shimbashira, Shozen Nakayama (1905-1967), founded Tenri University's predecessor, the Tenri School of Foreign Language, with the intention of educating missionaries in linguistic skills for use in the overseas missions of Tenrikyo. This was the first private foreign language school in Japan. The school began with the departments of Korean, Chinese, Cantonese, Malay, and Russian. At that time, however, Korea was not recognized as a country by the Japanese Government. Therefore, the Tenri School of Foreign Languages was the first private institution in Japan which offered Korean language instruction. It adopted a coeducational system, which was very rare and unique in Japan at the time, and made efforts to foster students in the development of individual talents at a time when intellectual training was predominant.
Founder Shozen Nakayama, who was interested in the history of Catholic missionary activities in the Orient as well as Tenrikyo theology, began collecting cultural materials for students' research. This was the origin of the world famous Tenri Central Library. Furthermore, the Founder enthusiastically engaged in the research of folk culture and collected archaeological and ethnological materials. This collection developed into Tenri Sankokan Museum.
The Founder not only enjoyed judo and rugby, but also contributed to the popularization and international exchanges of sports, and above all, to the internationalization of judo. Moreover, he helped train many famous athletes and established the Faculty of Physical Education of Tenri University, which continues to lead students' sports activities in Japan to this day.
The Founder's foresight and leadership formed the University's educational basis. Today, the spirit of the Founder is still vividly alive in the educational pursuits of Tenri University.