Tsunesaburō Makiguchi

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Tsunesaburō Makiguchi
1st President of Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai
In office
18 November 1930 - 18 November 1944
Succeeded byJōsei Toda (removed Kyōiku from the organization's name)
Personal details
Born23 July 1871 (Lunar calendar date on 6 June)
Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Died18 November 1944 (aged 73)
Sugamo Prison (present-day Toda Memorial Auditorium[citation needed]), Toshima, Tokyo, Japan
Resting placeTaiseki-ji Head Temple by Gojunoto Pagoda (left backside), Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
(since 1944–Present)
Alma mater

Tsunesaburō Makiguchi (牧口 常三郎, Makiguchi Tsunesaburō 23 July 1871[1][2] [Lunar calendar date on 6 June] – 18 November 1944) was a Japanese educator who founded and became the first president of the Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai (Value-Creating Education Society), the predecessor of today's Soka Gakkai.

Early life and career[edit]

Makiguchi was born in the small village of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in 23 July 1871 (Lunar calendar date on 6 June). Adopted by the Makiguchi family, he moved to Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, at the age of 14. Working his way through school, he graduated from Sapporo Normal School (today's Hokkaido University of Education). First employed as an assistant teacher at a primary school affiliated with his alma mater, he later taught high school and served as a dormitory superintendent.

Makiguchi's environmentally-minded new approach to geography appears in his book Jinsei Chirigaku (A Geography of Human Life) published in 1903 when he was 32. In this work, Makiguchi rejects the prevailing approach to the study of geography, based on the rote memorization of facts and place names, instead advocating a rational understanding of geography based on the relationship of the individual, human activity and industrial advancement to nature. This is one of, if not the, first published example of modern environmentalist thinking.[3]

Although recognized as an able teacher, Makiguchi's uncompromising attitude toward authorities created problems. His clashes with officials of the Ministry of Education, school inspectors, ward assemblymen, city councilmen, and top officials of the city of Tokyo were frequent and resulted in frequent transfers between schools.[4] After moving to Tokyo, he served as principal in a succession of six primary schools, from 1913 to 1932.

During those years, he devoted much consideration to the relationship between life and education, developing his theories on sōka or the creation of value, the happiness of the individual, the prosperity of society at large, and their interrelationships in practice.

Educational reformer[edit]

His aforementioned work Jinsei Chirigaku (A Geography of Human Life), predates the academic study of geography at the Imperial Universities of Kyoto and Tokyo in 1907 and 1911, respectively, and pioneered a new approach to teaching geography in Japan. Written between the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, the work presents human geography as a subject for both formal and nonformal learning to advance an understanding of cultural differences shaping and shaped by the relationship between human activity and its natural environment.[3] While "Japanese geographers of the time were chiefly concerned with describing the physical features of the earth,"[5] Makiguchi was arguably the first to discuss human geography as a system of knowledge correlating location theory and spatial distribution of human phenomena with economic, social and political geographies.[6]:64–65 In Makiguchi's words, "it is through our spiritual interaction with the earth that the characteristics that we think of as human are ignited and nurtured within us."[7] In this work, Makiguchi also formulated the concept of humanitarian competition as an approach to international relations, writing that: "The important thing is the setting of a goal of well being and protection of all people, including oneself but not at the increase of self-interest alone. In other words, the aim is the betterment of others and in doing so, one chooses ways that will yield personal benefit as well as benefits to others. It is a conscious effort to create a more harmonious community life."[8] This publication is one of, if not the, earliest set of ideas in the global modern environmental movement.

In response to problems throughout the education system that resulted from the Meiji government's adoption of the Imperial Rescript, Makiguchi published the first volume of Sōka Kyōikugaku Taikei (The System of Value-Creation Pedagogy) together with his close friend and disciple Jōsei Toda on November 18, 1930.[9] The date was later adopted as the Founding Day of Sōka Gakkai. The four-volume work, published over a period of five years, sets forth his thoughts on education and proposals for systemic reform. Rather than education serving the state, as embodied in the Imperial Rescript on Education, Makiguchi proposed a student-centered education with the purpose of ensuring the happiness of the learner.[10]

He also proposed the creation of an educational system comprising a partnership of school, home and community. In this system, a child would spend half a day in school and the other half in apprenticeships and other types of work activities at home and in the community befitting the nature and needs of the child. Makiguchi felt that implementing such a system would change bored, apathetic learners into eager, self-directed students.

"Makiguchi developed a theory of value that combined the idea of happiness as the goal of life with that of value as something that can be created. ... In value-creating pedagogy the main point of education is to aim for a happy life and develop the ability and attitude required to create value."[11]

Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai[edit]

In 1928, Makiguchi and Jōsei Toda both converted to Nichiren Buddhism. Makiguchi's encounter with this school of Buddhist thought took his life into an even deeper and broader dimension, resulting in the establishment of the Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai (Value-Creation Education Society), the predecessor of today's Soka Gakkai organization. In Nichiren's teachings Makiguchi found support for his theory of value-creation and a world view consistent with his aims of educational reform and social betterment centered on addressing the subjective realities of the individual.[12] It can be said that Makiguchi created and developed a grassroots movement as the foundation of a lasting peace, an objective he perceived at the very heart of Nichiren Buddhism.

Wartime arrest[edit]

During World War II, he opposed Japan's military government's attempts to impose the doctrine of State Shinto through strict control of religions and thoughts inimical to its war effort. While there was some debate as to whether Makiguchi's actions were in direct opposition to the war,[13][14] it is clear that "his outspoken criticism of the prevailing belief system represents an implicit and explicit protest against an extreme abuse of the educational process for militarist purposes."[15]

In 1943, due to his refusal to accept the talisman and support the war,[16] he was arrested and imprisoned as a "thought criminal" together with Jōsei Toda and 20 senior leaders of Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai for violating the Peace Preservation Law revised in 1941 and under which tens of thousands were arrested. Yet, in spite of being subjected to harsh interrogations, he never retreated from his beliefs; the 72-year-old former principal continued to assert the value of freedom of religion as a fundamental human right. On November 18, 1944, he died in prison of extreme malnutrition. His remains were laid to rest at the left backside of the Five-Story Gojunoto Pagoda at Taiseki-ji, the head temple of Nichiren Shōshū.[17][18]


Makiguchi is remembered to this day by members of the Soka Gakkai in Japan and the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) around the world. During morning and evening prayers, members take a moment to express gratitude to the first three presidents of Soka Gakkai: Tsunesaburō Makiguchi (president from 1930-1944), Jōsei Toda (president from 1951–1958), and Daisaku Ikeda (president from 1960–1979, honorary president from 1979 to the present and president of SGI from 1975 to the present).

A secular network of Soka schools around the world, including several independent secondary schools, and two universities (Sōka University of Japan and Soka University of America) were established by Daisaku Ikeda based on Makiguchi's pedagogy.

Makiguchi's value-creating system of education has attracted the attention of educators around the world. His Sōka Kyōikugaku Taikei has been translated into English, Portuguese, French and Vietnamese. In Brazil, Makiguchi's theory of education based on value-creation has been sponsored in 55 schools and introduced in 1,103 classrooms to more than 340,000 students.[19]


  • Education for Creative Living: Ideas and Proposals of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Iowa State University Press, 1989; ISBN 978-0813803920
  • Makiguchi the Value Creator: Revolutionary Japanese Educator and Founder of Soka Gakkai, Weatherhill, 1994; ISBN 978-0834803183
  • A Geography of Human Life, Caddo Gap Pr, 2002; ISBN 978-1880192429
  • Makiguchi and Gandhi: Their Education Relevance for the 21st Century, UPS, 2008; ISBN 978-0761840688
  • Soka Education: For the Happiness of the Individual, Middleway Press, 2010; ISBN 978-0977924554
  • Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944): Educational Philosophy in Context, Routledge, 2013; ISBN 978-0415718776
  • Philosophy of Value by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, translated by Translation Division Overseas Bureau. Seikyo Press, Tokyo, 1964.


  1. ^ Makiguchi, Tsunesaburō (1989). Education for Creative Living [Ideas and Proposals of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi]. Iowa, U.S.: Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0813803918.
  2. ^ "Significant SGI Dates" (PDF). VeryPDF Software. VeryPDF Software.
  3. ^ a b Odata, Toshihiro (1994). "牧口常三郎 『人生地理学』 の地理学史上の再評価" [A Reappraisal of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi's 'Jinsei Chirigaku' in the History of Geography in Japan] (pdf). Chiri-Kagaku [Geographical Sciences] (in Japanese). 49 (4): 197–212. doi:10.20630/chirikagaku.49.4_197. Retrieved 21 August 2018. Lay summary.
  4. ^ Murata, Kiyoaki. Japan's New Buddhism: An Objective Account of Soka Gakkai. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1969. pp. 73-74
  5. ^ Murata, p72
  6. ^ Takeuchi, Keiichi; Nozawa, Hideki. "Recent Trends in Studies on the History of Geographical Thought in Japan—Mainly on the History of Japanese Geographical Thought" (pdf). Geographical Review of Japan. 61 (Ser. B) (1): 59–73. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  7. ^ Makiguchi, Tsunesaburo. A Geography of Human Life. Ed. by Dayle M. Bethel. Caddo Gap Press, 2002, p25
  8. ^ Makiguchi. A Geography of Human Life. p.286
  9. ^ Kumagaki, Kazunori. "Value-Creating Pedagogy and Japanese Education in the Modern Era," The Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 10 (2000) Special Issue, p31
  10. ^ Kumagai, pp32-34
  11. ^ Kumagai, p41
  12. ^ Miwa, Zeho (December 2002). "A consideration of how the works of Nichiren were received by readers: the case of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi". Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies. 51 (1): 520–524. doi:10.4259/ibk.51.524. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  13. ^ Miyata, Koichi (2002). "Critical Comments on Brian Victoria's "Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?"". Journal of Global Buddhism. 3: 79–85. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  14. ^ Victoria, Brian (2001). "Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?". Journal of Global Buddhism. 2: 72–91. Archived from the original on 31 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. ^ Ito, Takao. "Reading Resistance: The Record of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi's Interrogation by Wartime Japan's 'Thought Police'". Educational Studies. 45 (2): 133–145. doi:10.1080/00131940902762169.
  16. ^ Tsunesaburo Makiguchi Website Committee. "Tsunesaburo Makiguchi". Religious Reformer. Soka Gakkai.
  17. ^ Daniel B. Montgomery: Fire in the Lotus, Mandala 1991, S. 186-187
  18. ^ http://www.wrs.vcu.edu/profiles/SokaGakkai.htm
  19. ^ de Melo Silva, Dilma, "Makiguchi Project in Action—Enhancing Education for Peace," The Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 10 (2000), p62


Ikeda, Daisaku. "John Dewey and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi: Confluences of Thought and Action." 2001. In Soka Education: For the Happiness of the Individual, 1-32. Santa Monica, CA: Middleway Press, 2010.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
new office
1st President of Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai
18 November 1930 – 18 November 1944
Succeeded by
Jōsei Toda