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Carrying on Yukichi Fukuzawa’s Ambition

It is said that heaven does not create one man above or below another man. Any existing distinction between the wise and the stupid, between the rich and the poor, comes down to a matter of education.”

So begins the book An Encouragement of Learning, written by Yukichi Fukuzawa at the beginning of the Meiji period. Here Fukuzawa expounded the importance of freedom, equality, and human rights, leading the nation into a new era, the modern Japan as we know it today.
Keio University, which Fukuzawa founded, is where his educational philosophy continues to be carried on today.

Fukuzawa, a learned yet unpretentious individual, spurned ceremony for an attitude of action. His philosophy of dokuritsu-jison, or independence and self-respect, serves as a reminder to think and act for oneself even when it may go against the grain.

Fukuzawa Builds Keio on New Principles

Fukuzawa, who studied under Koan Ogata in Osaka, was ordered by his clan to travel to Edo (present-day Tokyo) to open a school for Dutch studies in 1858. Fukuzawa, fresh from his travels in America and Europe in the early 1860s, began to confidently espouse an education that did not conform to the Neo-Confucian customs of his time. Philosophies such as independence and jitsugaku, or empirical science, were already tenets of Keio at this time, and they still lie at the heart of education and research at Keio University today. In 1868, Fukuzawa moved his school to Shiba and renamed it after the era of the time, Keio, building the cornerstone of a school that has grown to be one of the most influential modern institutions in Japan. Students today, by inheriting his principles, continue to travel down a path Fukuzawa first laid over 150 years ago.

The Mission of Keio University

To be a constant source of honorable character and a paragon of intellect and morals and...make Keio a leader of society.”

Yukichi Fukuzawa emphasized the importance of both honor and intellect in the pursuit of academic learning, and aspired to shape a personal character suitable of societal leaders. His legacy is embodied within the Mission of Keio University, which Fukuzawa left to his pupils just five years before his death.

“Keio University is not merely a place for academic pursuit. Its mission is to be a constant source of honorable character and a paragon of intellect and morals for the entire nation and for each member to apply this spirit to elucidate the essence of family, society, and nation. They will not only articulate this essence in words, but also demonstrate it in their actions, and by so doing make Keio a leader of society.”

It is now known as the truest purpose of Keio in its most concise form.

Understanding Fukuzawa and Keio’s Founding Principles

Gijuku
Private school

義塾

Gijuku - Private school

Fukuzawa put a new twist on an old word with gijuku, altering its meaning from ancient Chinese texts to refer to schools modeled after the British public school system.

Dokuritsu Jison
Independence and Self-Respect

独立自尊

Dokuritsu Jison - Independence and Self-Respect

“Whosoever perfectly realizes the principle of Independence, both of Mind and Body, and, paying due respect to his own person, preserves his dignity unblemished―him we call a man of independence and self-respect.”
The basic spirit of Keio University is that of independence and self-respect, to protect the dignity of oneself and others and act with discretion and responsibility in every matter.

Jitsugaku
Science

実学

Jitsugaku - Science

Fukuzawa valued jitsugaku, which refers to science rather than short-sighted practical disciplines. Jitsugaku calls for individuals to solve issues by thinking critically from a scientific approach in order to reveal the empirical truth.

Kihin no Sengen
Source of Honorable Character

気品の泉源

Kihin no Sengen - Source of Honorable Character

Throughout his writings, Fukuzawa consistently emphasized the importance of a strong moral compass in addition to intellect in the pursuit of learning. One of Keio’s educational objectives is to be a leader of character for society.

Hangaku-hankyo
Learning while Teaching,
Teaching while Learning

半学半教

Hangaku-hankyo - Learning while Teaching,
Teaching while Learning

The principle of hangaku-hankyo unites Keio members and makes no distinction between pupil and teacher, between the learned and those just beginning to learn. From Keio’s humble beginnings, there has been a spirit that students and teachers alike have the capacity to both teach and learn together.

Jiga Sakko
Creating History to Define the Future

自我作古

Jiga Sakko - Creating History to Define the Future

Jiga sakko (also read Ware yori inishie wo nasu) denotes a sense of purpose and courage to do something unprecedented, staying the course while enduring and overcoming hardships and challenges along the way.

Shachu Kyoryoku
Collaboration within the Company

社中協力

Shachu Kyoryoku - Collaboration within the Company

The “company” discussed here comprises the teachers and staff, students and graduates, and in a wider sense, even the parents of current students. The Keio University Iji-kai (Support Group), which has economically and financially supported Keio’s operations, is a proud tradition of this cooperation.

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