Encyclopedia of Shinto
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|3. Institutions and Administrative Practices
|Modern and Contemporary
A Shinto university established as part of the Meiji trend that bewailed the sudden inclination toward, and uncritical veneration of Western culture and sought to reaffirm Japan's traditional culture. Its founding principle was "Establishing the origin" (moto wo tatsuru koto). It traces its origins to the Center for the Study of Classical Culture (Kōten kōkyūjo) founded in the Iidachō neighbourhood of Tokyo in 1882. Kokugakuin was established eight years later as a three-year educational institute for males specializing in Japanese history, Japanese literature, and Japanese law. In 1904 it was upgraded to the status of vocational college and in 1906 it changed its name to shiritsu Kokugakuin daigaku or "Private Kokugakuin University." A major expansion program was launched in 1918 and the university moved sites to Shibuya in 1923 when it was recognized as a university under the University Ordinance (Daigakurei) of 1920. The Center for the Study of Classical Culture was abolished at the end of the war but the university survived, and subsequently established a range of academic departments including literature (1948), politics (1949; restyled economics and political sciences in 1950), and law (1963). The graduate school was launched in 1951 with Japanese literature and Shinto studies programs. Thereafter three further programs were added: Japanese history, law, and economics. Kokugakuin had been training Shinto priests during the pre-war period since the creation of the Center for the Study of Classical Culture, but in 1947 it created a Shinto studies department (Shintō kenkyū bu) and relaunched its program for the training of shrine priests. It was re-styled the Shinto training department (Shintō kenshū bu) in the following year and, in 1950, it became a Shinto training unit attached to the literature department. Thereafter, with its special Shinto training program, and its optional program it began to produce large numbers of shrine priests. In addition, the university instituted annual training seminars in summer and spring. The qualification offered by the university is the Shinto priest rank of meikai on the undergraduate and special programs and the ranks of seikai and provisional seikai on the optional program. Attendance at the seasonal seminars leads to the qualifications of seikai, provisional seikai, and chokkai (the highest rank of the four-tiered ranking system encompassing jōkai, meikai, seikai, and chokkai).
The Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics (Nihon bunka kenkyūjo), founded in 1955, became an official research unit of the university in 1980. The Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics engages in research on Japanese culture, and aims to grasp the diversity and substance of Japan's national culture in a comparative context. 1965 saw the foundation of the Orikuchi Memorial Research Institute of Antiquity (Orikuchi-hakase kinen kodai kenkyūjo). Educational institutions attached to Kokugakuin include an early childhood education vocational school, two kindergardens, the Kugayama high and middle schools, Kokugakuin High School, and a junior college. In 1981, the university celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary. A related educational institution is Tochigi Gakuen which has its own junior college and high school.
— Ishii Kenji