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Manshi Kiyozawa Edit Profile

清沢 満之


Manshi Kiyozawa was a priest of the Meiji period and reformer of the Jodo Shin sect of Buddhism.


Manshi Kiyozawa was born in 1863 in Nagoya. He was a son of an ashigaru (low-ranking samurai).


In 1878 he became a priest in the Otani branch of the Jodo Shin sect and entered Ikuei Kyoko, the school attached to Higashi Hongan-ji in Kyoto. In 1882 he went to Tokyo for further study, entering the preparatory school for Tokyo University. I he following year he entered the philosophy course of the university, where he studied under the American professor Ernest Fenol- losa. He graduated in 1887.


In 1888 became principal of Kyoto Prefecture Middle School. At the same time he became head of a temple called Saiho-ji in Mikawa Ohama in Aichi Prefecture. In 1890 he resigned his position as principal of the middle school and entered upon a life of religious austerities, determined to devote himself to reforming the educational facilities of his sect.

Up to this time he had been active as a philosopher of religion.

In 1894 he resigned his academic position as a result of tuberculosis and moved to Suma in Hyogo Prefecture to convalesce. At this time he devoted himself to contemplation of the inner meaning of faith, writing a work entitled Zaislm zange-roku.

The following year he came out of retirement and, frustrated in his attempts to carry out educational reforms, determined to work for reform of the jodo Shin sect as a whole. To effect this, he joined with like- minded friends in 1896 in founding an organization to publish a magazine called Kyokai Jigen. His aim was to introduce democratic methods in the management of the religious order, but he encountered bitter opposition and was expelled from his sect in 1897. He became convinced that institutional reform was less pressing than the need for the establishment of a sound inner spirit. In 1899, after the order expelling him from the sect had been rescinded, he went to Tokyo to supervise Shinshu University run by the Jodo Shin sect. In 1900 he joined with his disciples Tada Kanae, Akegarasu Haya, and Sasaki Gessho in founding a religious organization called the Kokodo and the following year began publication of a magazine entitled Seishinkai.


  • Other Work

    • The numerous articles that he published in it represent his efforts to promote spiritual concerns and were later collected in the volumes entitled Seishin shugi and Seishin kowa.

    • His principal ideas being summed up in a work entitled Shukyo tetsugaku gaikotsu. The work, which makes a critical use of Hegelian dialectic to define the basic ideas oi Buddhist philosophy, was translated into English and won favorable notice at the World Religious Conference in Chicago in 1893.


Followers of the Jodo Shin sect had tended to look upon their religion as somethings concerning the family as a whole. Kiyozavva's aim was to induce believers to reexamine their faith critically in terms of modern ways of thought and personal awareness and to reaffirm it as a matter of individual conviction. His efforts led him to attach renewed importance to the Agama sutras of early Indian Buddhism and the Tannisho of Shinran, and he played an important role in drawing attention to these texts. Among his disciples were Soga Rybshin and Kaneko Taiei, both leaders in the religious world of modern japan.


He married Kiyozawa Yasuko, adopting his w’ife's family name.