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The oldest university in Japan

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Ancient schools of learning in Japan

In the 6th century, with the introduction of Buddhism and Confucianism in Japan from China and Korea, the imperial courts devised the first formal learning in Japan.

In this blog by Takane sensei, a Japanese language teacher at JOI online school, she introduces one seat of learning that began at a temple and could be said to be the first actual university in Japan ( a title that Keio University lays claim to).

Read this blog for an introduction to some interesting Japanese history as well as a great way to learn Japanese for free.

The oldest university in Japan


By TAKANE Yukiko


成田空港から車で30分ぐらいのところに、飯高寺(はんこうじ)というお寺があります。 1580年ごろ、このお寺にお坊さんが仏教学問所を開きました。 今の学校に例えると、大学と同じです。 その後全国に広がったので、飯高寺(はんこうじ)は日本で一番古い大学になります。

お坊さんになるために、8課程あり、全課程が終わるまで36年かかったと言われています。 1年に6ヵ月学び、そのうち3ヵ月は自分で学習して単位を取りました。 1日でも講義を休むと進級できなかったそうです。 お坊さんになるまでは長い年月がかかったんですね。

巨木にかこまれ、とても静かな場所に飯高寺(はんこうじ)はあります。 派手なお寺ではありませんが、雰囲気を感じられる場所です。


To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video. [embed=videolink]{"video":"","width":"400","height":"225"}[/embed]


成田空港(なりたくうこう)から車(くるま)で30分(ぷん)ぐらいのところに、飯高寺(はんこうじ)というお寺(てら)があります。 1580年(ねん)ごろ、このお寺(てら)にお坊(ぼう)さんが仏教(ぶっきょう)学問所(がくもんじょ)を開(ひら)きました。 今(いま)の学校(がっこう)に例(たと)えると、大学(だいがく)と同(おな)じです。 その後(あと)全国(ぜんこく)に広(ひろ)がったので、飯高寺(はんこうじ)は日本(にほん)で一番(いちばん)古(ふる)い大学(だいがく)になります。

お坊(ぼう)さんになるために、8課程(かてい)あり、全課程(ぜんかてい)が終(お)わるまで36年(ねん)かかったと言(い)われています。 1年(ねん)に6ヵ月(ろっかげつ)学(まな)び、そのうち3ヵ月(さんかげつ)は自分(じぶん)で学習(がくしゅう)して単位(たんい)を取(と)りました。 1日(いちにち)でも講義(こうぎ)を休(やす)むと進級(しんきゅう)できなかったそうです。 お坊(ぼう)さんになるまでは長(なが)い年月(ねんげつ)がかかったんですね。

杉(すぎ)巨木(きょぼく)にかこまれ、とても静(しず)かな場所(ばしょ)に飯高寺(はんこうじ)はあります。 派手(はで)なお寺(てら)ではありませんが、昔(むかし)雰囲気(ふんいき)を感(かん)じられる場所(ばしょ)です。

The oldest university in Japan

About 30 minutes drive from Narita airport, there is a temple called Hankouji Temple. In around 1580, the monks of this temple began a school for Buddhist studies. If this is compared to the schools of today, it would be the same as a university. After that, this spread all over the country, and so this makes Hankouji Temple Japan's oldest university.

There were 8 curriculum for becoming a monk, it is said to have taken 36 years to complete all the curriculum. You studied for about 6 months of the year, and 3 months of this was self study for which you received school credits. If you were absent for even one day, you couldn't move up a grade. Becoming a monk took a long period of many months and years.

Hankouji Temple is in a very quiet place, surrounded by giant Japanese cedar trees. It is not a showy temple, but you can feel the atmosphere of the olden days here.

仏教(ぶっきょう) Buddhism 

学問所(がくもんじょ) school

全国(ぜんこく)whole country

課程(かてい) curriculum

全課程(ぜんかてい)all of curriculum

学(まな)ぶ learn

学習(がくしゅう) learning,study

単位(たんい)credit in school

講義(こうぎ) lecture


年月(ねんげつ)period,months and years

杉(すぎ) Japanese cedar

巨木(きょぼく)big tree

派手(はで)colorful, showy

昔(むかし) olden days



Hajimemashite, I am Yukiko Takane.
I live in Chiba Prefecture. My hometown is near the ocean and is surrounded by rice fields - its a laid-back place. The sashimi and rice is really good here. My family home makes rice as well, so I usually help out during the harvest season. I may look weak, but actually I can lift a 30kg bag of rice.

In the past, I taught Japanese in Saipan and Cebu islands. The people I got to know there are precious to me. I am really looking forward to meeting you all in the online classrooms. I have been called 'Takani' Sensei or 'Okane' sensei by my students. Well, I am not a 'crab' nor am I 'money' - the name is Takane. Doozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Try to use your newly learned vocabulary and phrases all the time in the lessons. Looking forward to meeting you all in class !

Start 3 Trial FlexLessons for only $9 !

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