President's Greeting

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President's Greeting

President Dosho WAKAHARA

Ryukoku University traces its roots back to 1639, when a seminary was established within the precincts of the Nishi Hongwanji temple with the purpose of providing advanced education in Buddhism. Over its long history since then, Ryukoku has undergone continual development, and has grown into a major university with seven faculties, eight graduate schools, a junior college, and four research centers. As the foremost institution of higher education affiliated with Nishi Hongwanji, headquarters to one of the most vital Buddhist traditions in the world today and a World Cultural Heritage site, Ryukoku University has for more than 360 years been dedicated to creating a learning environment productive of outstanding graduates. Our research activities extend from our rich tradition of Buddhist scholarship to the forefront of knowledge in the humanities and the social and natural sciences, and our innovative results have attracted international attention.

Private universities reflect the character of the “founding spirit” on which their education, research, and community outreach programs stand. Ryukoku University takes as its foundational mission the providing of education rooted in the spirit of the Shin Buddhist tradition (Jodo Shinshu). The name “Ryukoku” is derived from the name of the site in the eastern hills of Kyoto where the remains of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Shin Buddhist tradition, were interred. The locale is known as “Otani,” and the single Chinese character for Otani ( ) was separated into its component parts (谷koku and龍 ryu) to form the name of the university.

It is said that modern societies of the twenty-first century are “knowledge-based,” meaning that our activities in all areas rely heavily on knowledge, information, and technology. For this reason, there is increasing need for persons possessed not only of fine character, but also broad learning, a high level of specialization, and the ability to create and apply new knowledge. I believe it is institutions like Ryukoku University, which stand firmly on the ideals with which they were founded, that can meet the demands of today’s society.

Our vision for the twenty-first century is to be a university working at once globally and locally for harmony in coexistence (tomoiki). The Japanese term tomoiki (“living together”) is used at present in various contexts, suggesting the ideal of amity within multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies or the interrelatedness of humankind and the natural world. What is most important, however, is the idea that “diverse beings coexist in harmony,” and that even though different, there is no need for complete assimilation or loss of individuality. Diversity is recognized and accepted, while opposition and conflict due to differences are ameliorated to produce more adaptable and accommodating relationships. This reflects the temperate and flexible nature of tomoiki. In Buddhist understanding, tomoiki originates from the teaching that “all beings arise in interdependence, and all beings mutually support each other in existence. There is nothing that exists independently, in itself alone.” From this, we learn that we must reflect on our egocentric, divisive tendencies and, with deepening awareness that we live dependent on others, grow in gratitude and humility. In this way we come to coexist with others to bring about a better world. This is the outlook that has pervaded the traditions of Ryukoku University since its founding.

Today, there are many outstanding institutions of higher education in Japan, with great variety in types of universities, but the question, “What is it that constitutes a university?” remains. We at Ryukoku University, as we look to the 370 anniversary of the school’s founding, continue to be guided by our distinctive founding spirit in serving as a center for international research and education and training men and women capable of contributing to society in a broad spectrum of specializations and professional fields.

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