Happy Science

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Happy Science
Kōfuku no Kagaku
OR holy symbol.png
Happy Science logo
Formation 1986
Founders Ryuho Okawa
Type Religious movement
Headquarters 1-2-38 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan
over 12 million (by own account)
Ryuho Okawa
Website happy-science.org
Formerly called
The Institute for Research in Human Happiness
Tokyo Shoshinkan in Sengakuji

Happy Science (幸福の科学 Kōfuku-no-Kagaku?) is a controversial new religious and spiritual movement, founded in Japan on 6 October 1986 by Ryuho Okawa, that is widely criticized as a cult.


In the 1980s, Ryuho Okawa read a series of books by Shinji Takahashi, founder of the new religious group God Light Association (GLA), and was deeply moved by them. In 1986, he resigned from a position at a prestigious trading corporation to found his own religion.[1] Happy Science became an official religious organization in Japan 7 March 1991. In the USA, Happy Science has been a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization since 1994.

In February 2008, the official English name for the group was changed from the Romanized Japanese Kofuku-no-Kagaku (literal translation "science of happiness") to the English rendering "Happy Science". Their former English name was "IRH - The Institute for Research in Human Happiness" which is still the name for their publishing company "IRH Press".


Tokyo Shoshinkan in Sengakuji

Okawa claims to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha and Confucius (among many other beings) and claims to be the incarnation of the supreme spiritual being called El Cantare. Happy Science claims that El Cantare is the true hidden name of the Heavenly Father in the Old Testament, Elohim, known in the Middle East as the God of creation (El) and in other ancient cultures of the world as the Cosmic Tree of Life and the World Tree. Okawa also claims to have direct communication with the "Guardian Spirits" of political figures, with whom he conducts interviews published in the organization's newsletter The Liberty and in book form. (See, for example, Okawa's book The Next President: Spiritual Interviews with the Guardian Spirits of Newt Gingrich vs. Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum, 2012.)

The basic teachings of Happy Science are "Exploration of the Right Mind" and the "Principles of Happiness". According to Okawa, in order to obtain happiness one must practice the Principles of Happiness known as "The Fourfold Path", Love, Wisdom, Self-Reflection and Progress. The only requirement to join Happy Science is that applicants must have "the aspiration and vision to seek the way and contribute to the realization of love, peace and happiness on earth".[2]

At the same time, the organization's political wing, the Happiness Realization Party promotes political views that include support for Japanese military expansion, support for the use of nuclear power, and denial of historical events such as the Nanjing Massacre in China—see the Japanese-language version of the organization's online news bulletin, The Liberty.[3] An April 2013 article in the English-language version of the journal transmits a message from the spirit of the then recently deceased "angel of light", former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher urging Japan to attack China, Taiwan and North Korea.[4]

Although its teachings are based on the Buddhist foundations of reflection and keeping Right Mind, it also incorporates modern day prosperity and development in order to improve oneself and society. The teachings given by Ryuho Okawa are said to be universal and center on the pluralistic belief that all major religions originated from one source.

Object of worship[edit]

Happy Science worships a deity named "El Cantare", who is said to be identical with Okawa himself. El Cantare was an object of worship in the aforementioned GLA group as early as 1976.[5]


Happy Science is one of many Japanese new religions, or shinshūkyō, which are looked upon as "controversial" by the mainstream press and public.[6] According to The Japan Times, "for many, the Happies smell suspiciously like a cult".[7] Not only the domestic Japanese press, but also international media in the United States, Uganda, Indonesia, Australia have applied the derogatory word "cult" to Happy Science.[8][9][10][11]

Happy Science have been noted for their use of high profile marketing company Dentsu Corporation, the largest advertising company in Japan, to implement their strategy.[12]

Happy Science has released promotional videos that claim North Korea and the People's Republic of China are plotting to invade and colonize Japan after first subduing it through nuclear warfare.[7]

In June 2012, Happy Science was blamed for a reservation mix-up at the Ugandan national stadium by the Ugandan athletes preparing for 2012 Olympics. Some athletes blamed Happy Science for their failure to qualify as they were forced to use the inferior track for time trials, as the national stadium was booked by Happy Science.[13]


  1. ^ Shimazono, Susumu (2004). From Salvation to Spirituality: Popular Religious Movements in Modern Japan (English ed.). Melbourne, Vic.: Trans Pacific. p. 267. ISBN 1876843128. 
  2. ^ "Happy Science - About Us". Happy Science Singapore. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  3. ^ "The Liberty Web" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  4. ^ "Mrs. Margaret Thatcher Speaks of Her Legacy From Heaven (Part 1)". The Liberty Web. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  5. ^ 沼田健哉 『現代日本の新宗教―情報化社会における神々の再生』 創元社、1988年。ISBN 978-4422140155
  6. ^ Muhumuza, Rodney (10 July 2012). "Happy Science, Controversial Religion From Japan, Succeeds In Uganda". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b McNeill, David (4 August 2009), "Party offers a third way: happiness", The Japan Times, retrieved 6 August 2009 
  8. ^ Sylla Saint-Guily, "Happy Science Is the Laziest Cult Ever," Vice (magazine), 3 October 2012.
  9. ^ Simon Musasizi, "Clerics call for probe into Happy Science," The Observer, 21 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Happy Science, a new cult offers celebrity guide to heaven," The Jakarta Post, 22 July 2012.
  11. ^ Beau Donnelly, "Blooming 'Happy Science' religion channels Disney, Gandhi, Jesus and Thatcher," The Age, 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ Media and religion in Japan: the Aum affair as a turning point, Dr. Erica Baffelli, Lecturer in Asian Religions University of Otago Department of Theology and Religious Studies, 2008.
  13. ^ "Uganda athletes anger at Happy Science Olympic mix-up". BBC News. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clarke, Peter B. (ed.) (1999), 'Kofuku-no-Kagaku: The Institute for Research in Human Happiness' in A Bibliography of Japanese New Religious Movements: With Annotations, Surrey, UK, Japan Library (Curzon), ISBN 1-873410-80-8, pp. 149–67
  • Pokorny, Lukas; Winter, Franz (2012). Creating Utopia': The History of Kofuku no Kagaku in Austria, 1989-2012, with an Introduction to Its General History and Doctrine. In: Hödl, Hans Gerald and Lukas Pokorny, ed. Studies on Religion in Austria. Volume 1, Vienna: Praesens, pp. 31–79
  • Yamashita, Akiko (1998), 'The "Eschatology" of Japanese new and new new religions: from Tenrikyo to Kofuku-no-Kagaku' in Japanese Religions, Vol. 23, January 1998, NCC, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 125–42
  • "The Transformation of a Recent Japanese New Religion: Okawa Ryuho and Kofuku no Kagaku" in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22, pp. 343–380

External links[edit]