Shoyo Tsubouchi studied at Aichi English School, was sent on a prefectural scholarship to Kaiseiko (predecessor of Tokyo University).
After graduating Shoyo Tsubouchi was appointed instructor at Tokyo Semmon Gakko (predecessor of Waseda University) where he served till his death.
A man of letters and a brilliant scholar of English he began translating the works of Scott, Lytton and Shakespeare into Japanese (1880). His two novels Tosei Shoseikatagi (Modern Student's Traits) and Shosetsu Shinzui (Quintessence of Novels) established his literary fame (1885). He published the Waseda Bungaku magazine and wrote essays and articles (1891).
Shoyo Tsubouchi founded the Waseda Middle School (1896); conferred a doctorate (1899); did much to improve the standards of operas and wrote Shinkyoku Urashima (about 1900); founded a dramatic school (1909). He was appointed emeritus professor of Waseda University (1915) and established a cultural society at Waseda University (1920). He translated the complete works of Shakespeare and founded a theatrical museum at Waseda University (1928).