Sophia University


Sophia University was established by the Society of Jesus, a Catholic order with a five-century-long history of promoting education. The philosophy of the first Jesuits still flourishes on the campuses of Sophia and is evident in the students' passionate attempts to understand different cultures, in the ideals of service and living in harmony with others, and most of all in the emphasis on an education that develops each student's individual character. Sophia is a unique institution where the ideals of Christian humanism form the acknowledged basis of teaching and research, a philosophy that the university is determined to hand down to future generations.

The origins of Sophia University can be traced back to 1549, when St. Francis Xavier arrived in Japan on a mission from the Society of Jesus. Realizing that the Japanese people possessed a highly advanced culture, Xavier wanted to open a European-style university in the country. However, it took until 1906 for the project to get under way, as it was in this year that Pope Pius X eventually authorized the Society of Jesus to establish the first Catholic university in Japan.

To this end, three Jesuits were dispatched on a special mission in 1908. They were the Rev. Joseph Dahlmann, a German with a profound knowledge of Indian and Chinese culture, the Rev. Henri Boucher, a Frenchman who had worked for many years in China, and the Rev. James Rockliff, an Englishman who was active in the United States. The university was finally established in 1913 and Fr. Hermann Hoffmann, a German philosopher, was chosen as its first president. The Jesuit spirit of these four founding fathers emphasizes respect for the history and culture of different peoples, and encourages efforts toward understanding across national and cultural divides. This same spirit continues to permeate and guide education at Sophia today.