He attended the official school of the domain of Nagaoka, his home town, and later the school of the head temple of the sect in Kyoto. He entered Tokyo Imperial University, graduating from the philosophy course in 1885. He specialized in Indian thought and in 1896 received his doctorate.
He helped Miyake Yujiro and others to found the magazine Nihonjin in 1887 and established a school called the Tetsugakkan (present-day Toyo University) in the Hongo section of Tokyo. He traveled about on lecture tours throughout Japan and to Manchuria and Korea as well, and died in Dairen in 1919.
He utilized Western philosophical theory to present a systematic analysis of Buddhist thought and on the basis of this theoretical framework offered criticisms of Christianity. He also labored to combat superstition by examining various tales of ghosts and spirits and attempting to offer rational explanations of them. His aim was to exercise a positive influence upon the thinking of the society of his time and to that purpose he invited Kato Hiroyuki and others to join him in forming the Tetsugakkai (Philosophy Society) in 1884.