In the late Edo period, the founder of Doshisha, Joseph Hardy Neesima (1843-1890) left Japan for the US at the age of 21, defying an overseas travel ban in the process. For Neesima, who was intolerant of restraints on freedom in the stifling feudal society in which he grew up, it was an adventurous quest to seek a land where greater equality, freedom and human rights were the norm.( Jo Neesima and Doshisha ) While studying overseas, he embraced Christianity and started nurturing a special dream - a dream to provide education based on Christian principles in Japan, fostering people who value freedom and conscience. Ten years later, immediately after returning to Japan, Neesima founded Doshisha Eigakko (English Academy) in Kyoto. ( The Purpose of the Foundation of Doshisha University ) ‘Doshisha’ means ‘a community created by those who share the same aspiration’ - the aspiration embedded in the dream of Joseph Neesima. The school song of Doshisha contains the words, ‘one purpose’, and expresses Doshisha’s ideals.
Doshisha University has two main campuses. One is the Imadegawa Campus located in the heart of Kyoto City, north of Kyoto Imperial Palace and adjacent to a noted Buddhist temple, Shokokuji. As the birthplace of Doshisha University, the history of the Imadegawa Campus is an integral part of Doshisha 145-year-old story. ( IMADEGAWA ) Five buildings on this campus are designated as national important cultural properties. Kyoto’s rich artistic and cultural heritage also provides a distinctive character to the educational approach of Doshisha University. Exposure to the culture of Kyoto during the time spent studying at Doshisha University will be a positive experience that stays with students throughout their lives. The Kyotanabe Campus, the other main campus, is located in southern Kyoto Prefecture, where modern buildings, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and services, stand on 790,000 square meters of land surrounded by a lush green natural environment. ( KYOTANABE )
Yae was the sister of Kakuma Yamamoto, a former samurai who made a significant contribution to the foundation of Doshisha. Yae met Neesima in Kyoto during a stay with her brother. They married in 1876, a year after Doshisha Academy was established. The wedding was Christian in style and was the first of its kind to be held in Kyoto. Neesima and Yae had a very happy marriage although Yae was sometimes misunderstood by others because of her strong and self-reliant character. Yae offered help and encouragement when Neesima was facing obstacles and protests from Shinto priests and Buddhist monks opposed to the establishment of a Christian school. She also showed deep affection towards the students, providing support whenever she could. In a letter to an American friend, Neesima highly praised Yae’s rich and warm humanity. After Neesima passed away, Yae served at the Japan Red Cross and contributed to the empowerment of volunteer nurses. She was also actively engaged in the tea ceremony as a tea master under the name of Sochiku Neesima.