Keio has a proud history which dates back to the formation of a school for Dutch studies in 1858.
Producing the Next Generation of World Leaders
Keio has a proud history as Japan's very first private institution of higher education, which dates back to the formation of a school for Dutch studies in 1858 in Edo (now Tokyo) by founder Yukichi Fukuzawa.
Since the school's inception, the students of Keio have risen to the forefront of innovation in every imaginable academic field, emerging as social and economic leaders.
In today's internationally interdependent world, Keio places great effort upon maintaining the finest teaching faculty and superlative facilities.
Based on the knowledge and experience of their predecessors, today's Keio students strive to develop the leadership qualities that will enable them to make valuable contributions to tomorrow's society.
Keio University traces its beginnings to the original Keio Gijuku, an institution of Western learning unlike any other in Japan in its time.
Founder Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901) was a man of uncommon courage, vision, and wisdom who defied the established powers of the time and pursued knowledge above all else, endeavoring to understand the society and morals of 19th century civilization in Europe and North America.
His beliefs were very progressive in a Japan that was just beginning to awake from centuries of isolation.
His convictions and deeds made an indelible mark on the country that would, barely more than a century later, become the second-largest economic power in the free world.
Since its founding in 1858, the history of Keio University parallels the history of Japan's modern era. The vision and clarity of founder Yukichi Fukuzawa's original teachings have held up well for nearly a century and a half of serious academic inquiry in the service of Japan's development and modernization.
Fukuzawa believed that Japan's only choice for catching up with Western technology and social organization was to "always strive for progress and enlightenment, and provide the academic and moral education needed to create a generation of wise and capable leaders."
To this end, Keio University has continued to provide intellectual leadership that addresses the issues facing Japanese society in its quest for development, transformation, and modernization.
As we face the challenges of the post-industrial era of the 21st century, Keio continues to uphold the pioneer spirit of its founder in his pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress.
Founder of Keio, Yukichi Fukuzawa
It is said that heaven does not create one man above or below another man. Any existing distinction between the wise and the stupid, between the rich and the poor, comes down to a matter of education.
These words are from Yukichi Fukuzawa's first essay to the general public in 1872, and signaled the start of a new system of beliefs for the Japan of the time.
Key among these tenets was the belief that all members of society are equal, and are entitled to equal opportunities in education so that the best and brightest, no matter what station in life they were born into, can assume positions of power and influence for the betterment of society as a whole.
These beliefs represented the beginning of an end to the privilege and plutocracy of Japan at the time, giving hope to an entire country of citizens yearning for a new society where people would be judged entirely upon their merits rather than their caste or wealth. It was the beginning of modern Japan, as we know it today.
Yukichi Fukuzawa, who is most visible as the man portrayed on Japan's 10,000-yen note, is best known as one of modern Japan's first statesmen, a man responsible for introducing Western education, institutions, and social thought to Japan.
He was born in Osaka in 1835, the second son of a minor treasury official representing his home domain of Nakatsu, a northern province of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands.
Fukuzawa's father died suddenly when Yukichi was just a boy, and his family was reduced to poverty. He spent most of his youth doing odd jobs until money for his education became available when he was 14, ten years after the usual starting age.
By 1867, some 100 students were enrolled in Keio Gijuku, with Fukuzawa lecturing primarily on political economy. Meanwhile, he was also authoring many significant books, with An Encouragement of Learning (Gakumon no Susume) the most celebrated.
It was not long before he brought in professors from overseas, who provided students with an entirely new educational experience. Over the next two decades, Keio University assumed the posture that it maintains today.
It was gradually opened to more and more private students who were the offspring of common folk, introducing mathematics, economics, medicine, and other subjects representing fields that made direct contributions to the progress Japan was making in catching up with the West.
New concepts were being introduced by Keio University all the time, with Fukuzawa and his fellow colleagues coining new Japanese words to describe them in ways that could be understood by the average person.
One of significant contributions of Fukuzawa made during this time was the founding of the newspaper Jiji Shimpo (literally, "The Times") in 1883.
Fukuzawa was a prolific writer and statesman during this period. His introduction of new ideas was far ahead of the times, and among his works are several writings advocating equality for women and the eradication of the last vestiges of polygamy.