Tenri University

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Tenri University (天理大学, Tenri Daigaku) is a Japanese private university in Tenri, Nara Prefecture, an independent part of the secular mission of the new religious movement Tenrikyo. It was established in February 1925 as the coeducational Tenri Foreign Language School (天理外国語専門学校, Tenri Gaikokugo Senmon Gakkō), enrolling 104 students, and was reorganised as a university in April 1949. [1]



Tenri University building Tenri University1.jpg
Tenri University building


The Tenri Foreign Language College, the predecessor to Tenri University, was founded by the Tenrikyo Young Men's Association (a subdivision of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters) under the direction of the second Shinbashira, Nakayama Shozen. The college was founded to educate Tenrikyo adherents who would engage in missionary work abroad. At the time of its establishment in 1925, Tenri Foreign Language College was the only private foreign language school in Japan. [2]

In 1928, following the government's Technical Schools Act, the Tenri Foreign Language College was split into two schools – Tenri Foreign Language College and Tenri Women's Academy. In 1944, Tenri Foreign Language College was reorganized and renamed as Tenri Language College, and in 1947, the school absorbed the Tenri Women's Academy, which itself had been renamed the Tenri Women's Technical College. [2]


In 1949, Tenri University was instituted as a four-year college. At its founding the university only had one faculty, the Faculty of Humanities. [2] In 1959, faculties in Foreign Language and Physical Education were added. [2] By the 1970s, the university had developed a strong reputation in Japan for foreign language study and judo. [3] In 1992, the university was reorganized into the four faculties that remain today – Human Studies, Letters, International Studies, and Health/Sports Studies. [4]

In the twenty-first century, Tenri University has added graduate programs – the Graduate School of Clinical Studies in 2004, the Graduate School of Physical Fitness in 2015, and the Graduate School of the Study of Religion in 2017. [4] The university conducts a Japanese Studies program for international students and participates in cultural exchange programs with other universities. [5]

Structure and associated institutions

Tenri University is part of the oyasato-yakata complex, a square almost one kilometer in diameter that also houses a seminary, public schools, Tenrikyo lectures, and the Tenri Hospital.

Tenri University operates Tenri Central Library, a notable Japanese library, as well as the Tenri University Sankōkan Museum.

The Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, the research branch of Tenri University. Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion.jpg
The Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, the research branch of Tenri University.

Notable students and faculty

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The oyasato-yakata (おやさとやかた) complex is a collection of buildings in Tenri City, Nara, Japan, that form an incomplete square 872 metres (2,861 ft) on each side surrounding the Divine Residence (Oyasato), a structure sacred to the Japanese new religion Tenrikyo. The task of revitalizing the area around the Residence was informed by both religious prophecy and city planning, and construction began in 1954 on a project that continues today. The oyasato-yakata is a massive organizational undertaking that is understood by Tenrikyo adherents as a spiritual practice, creating a model city that reflects their belief in a Joyous Life. As such a practice it has involved the entire Tenrikyo community, from the volunteers who assist in construction to professors who plan the scope of future wings. Archaeologists have also excavated ancient artifacts beneath its foundations.

Tenri Central Library

Tenri Central Library is the library of Tenri University. It has notably extensive collections in antiquarian material, including original manuscripts from 13th-century Japan, and artifacts of European exploration and early visits to Japan. Dating to 1926, the library predates the university itself. It has its origins in the private collection of the family of the foundress of Tenrikyo, Oyasama.

In Tenrikyo, God is a single divine being and creator of the entire universe. The first two characters in the Japanese kanji for Tenri-O-no-Mikoto are 天理, where 天 refers to heaven or divinity, and 理 refers to reason or knowledge, thus "Tenri" (天理) refers to divine or heavenly knowledge, and in a sense adds a divine nature to truth itself whereas "天理" also means "natural law" or its pseudonym, "divine law." The English name most frequently used to refer to Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto outside of ritual is "God the Parent"; in Japanese, the equivalent common name is Oyagamisama. In Tenrikyo, God has no gender.

Tenrikyo Church Headquarters Main headquarters of the Tenrikyo religion

Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is the main headquarters of the Tenrikyo religion, located in Tenri, Nara, Japan. This establishment is significant to followers because it is built around the Jiba, the spot where followers believe the god Tenri-O-no-Mikoto conceived humankind.

The following is a timeline of the Tenrikyo religion, highlighting significant events since the birth of Tenrikyo's foundress Miki Nakayama. Specific dates are provided in parentheses; the lunar calendar is indicated with ordinal numbers while the Gregorian calendar is indicated with name and number.

The Life of Oyasama

The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, or The Life of Oyasama, is the biography of Nakayama Miki published and authorized by Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Life of Oyasama is one of the supplemental texts to the Tenrikyo scriptures, along with The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and Anecdotes of Oyasama.

The Doctrine of Tenrikyo 1903 doctrine of the Tenrikyo religion

The Doctrine of Tenrikyo is the doctrine of the Tenrikyo religion, published and sanctioned by Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Doctrine of Tenrikyo is one of the supplemental texts of the Tenrikyo scriptures, along with The Life of Oyasama and Anecdotes of Oyasama.

This article presents a selected bibliography of Tenrikyo.

Tenri University Corporation manages the education system of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The corporation supervises Tenri Kindergarten, Tenri Elementary School, Tenri Middle School, Tenri High School, Tenri University, Tenri Central Library, Tenri University Sankōkan Museum, and the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion.

Nakayama Shōzen

Nakayama Shōzen was the second Shinbashira of Tenrikyo. He was the first son of Nakayama Shinnosuke, the first Shinbashira, and the great-grandson of Nakayama Miki, the foundress of Tenrikyo.

Tenri Seminary is the seminary of the Japanese new religion Tenrikyo, located in Tenri, Japan.


  1. 沿革 (in Japanese). Tenri University. 2005. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department (1986). The Teachings and History of Tenrikyo. Tenri, Japan: Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department. p. 180-3.
  3. Hawkins, John N.; Judith A. Takata (July 1972). "Tenri University: A Religious Approach to International Education". Peabody Journal of Education. 49 (4): 300–306. doi:10.1080/01619567209537870. JSTOR   1492467.
  4. 1 2 "Tenri University course guide for 2018-19 school year." Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  5. "Japanese Studies Course." Tenri University. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  6. Geesink, Anton (1966). My Championship Judo. Arco. ISBN   0-668-01501-2.
  7. "光州の人気者 方言巧み「面白い日本人」(Popular people in Gwangju: The "amusing Japanese" who's good at the local dialect)". Hokkaidō Shimbun. 27 March 2002. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  8. "Japan's judo giant seeks revenge over French rival". CNN. 25 August 2000. Retrieved 3 July 2007.

Coordinates: 34°35′51″N135°50′43″E / 34.59750°N 135.84528°E / 34.59750; 135.84528