He studied Zen Buddhism under Tanzan Hara and Chinese classics under Bankei Otsuki.
Around 1868, he was tutor to Koson Otani, Chief Abbot of the Shinshii Sect. With Takeshi Inoue and Mokurai Shimaji, he organized a religious community. Founded the Shogakukai and Wakeikai, social welfare organizations, with Shoichi Toyama and Tairoku Kikuchi.
Started the newspapers, Akebono Shimbun and Ko/co Shimbun, and Meikyo Zasshi (magazine) for social reform. He, Hisoka Maejima and Masanao Nakamura organized the Rakuzenkai society (1869), then the Tsukiji School for the Blind.
Also founded a primary school teachers' training school and a Buddhist school. With Keiun Maeda, he organized a Buddhist federation which strove to sound Buddhists to the House of Representatives. Worked for abolition of capital punishment.
Was appointed president of Toyo University (1914), a Buddhist institution. Wrote books on Zen Buddhism and contributed much to reforms in Buddhist circles.