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By Sawai Atsuhiro and H. E. Davey
Photos Courtesy of Sawai Atsuhiro

Nakamura Tempu


Nakamura Tempu Sensei was born on July 30 at Oji Mura, Toyoshima Gun, Tokyo Fu (presently known as Oji, Kitaku, Tokyo To). His father was Sukeoki, and his mother was Chou. He was born Nakamura Saburo, their third son.

Nakamura Sukeoki was from the Yanagawa Clan (1) in Kyushu and a high-ranking central government official, Director of the Department of the Mint in the Finance Ministry. Nakamura Saburo's mother is said to have been a bright and cheerful woman from the Capital of Edo (now Tokyo) (2).

A British engineer, who specialized in printing, was working for the Mint. He lived near the Nakamura family house in Oji, and his wife was fond of Saburo, so she taught him conversational English on a daily basis.

He finished his elementary school education at Honjo, Tokyo. Nakamura Saburo entered Shuyu Kan High School (3) in Fukuoka, Kyushu.

At 16 years old, he withdrew from the high school and stayed at the Genyo Sha (4), managed by Toyama Mitsuru (5). This was through the introduction of Baron Maeda Masana (Saburo's uncle), who was Undersecretary of the Agriculture and Commerce Ministry.

Nicknamed the "Panther of Genyo Sha" because of his fierce and quick temperament, Saburo became an errand boy for Kono Kinkichi, an intelligence officer in the Imperial Army, who held the rank of Captain. Saburo engaged in secret service activities in Manchuria and the Ryoto Peninsula in China a few months before the Japan /China War broke out. He studied Chinese language intensely for one year.

He entered Gakushuin High School (6), but he withdrew soon after beginning. He became a good friend of Iwasaki Hisaya (7).

At 26 years old, he was hired as an intelligence agent belonging to the General Staff Office. He received special training, which prepared him to enter Manchuria. He collected intelligence and engaged in military operations a few months before the Japan-Russia War began.

Nakamura Tempu with Sword

The Japan-Russia War broke out when Nakamura Sensei was 28 years old. He played a significant role in this conflict as a military agent involved in espionage and intelligence gathering. He was captured by a Russian squadron and given a death sentence. A few seconds before his execution by firing squad, he narrowly escaped death, when a hand grenade was thrown by his subordinate.

On another occasion, he was shot by a sniper during his patrol on the Great Wall of China. He jumped from the wall, and he was seriously injured, falling into a coma for about a month. For most of his life, he felt occasional acute dizziness as an aftereffect of this incident. He also had problems with his vision in both eyes.

Due to yet another wartime injury, a nerve was cut in his right hand, making it impossible for him to fully bend his right middle finger.

At 29 years old, he returned from war to his parents' house in Hongo, Tokyo. Nakamura Sensei was one of only nine people that returned home alive out of his group of 113 military personnel.

Around this time, Chairman Nezu Kaichiro asked him to join the management of the Dai Nippon Flour Mill (now the Nisshin Flour Mill) as an executive.

At 30 years old, Nakamura Sensei was diagnosed with a rapidly advancing case of tuberculosis, a disease that was often fatal. He was treated by a Dr. Kitazato, the top tuberculosis specialist in Japan, but he did not recover. To find a cure for his disease and to arrive at peace of mind, he began reading about medicine, religion, philosophy, and psychology.

At 33 years old, Nakamura Sensei traveled to the USA to seek advice and medical treatment, rather than waiting to die. Travel to other countries (back then) was difficult even for healthy people. He met Orison Swett Marden, reputed to be a great young philosopher and the author of How to Get What You Want, but Marden's method provided no psychosomatic cure for his disease.

At 35 years old, Nakamura Sensei's illness went into remission due to the medical treatments he received in the USA. Impressed by these treatments, he entered Columbia University, where he studied medicine.

Nakamura Tempu in a Seated Posture

His illness returned, prompting him to look for a psychosomatic cure in London, where he attended a psychology seminar titled "Mental Activities and the Nervous System," which was presented by H. Addington Bruce. He went to Paris, and he met a Dr. Lindler at Lyon University. This was through an introduction from the actress Sarah Bernhardt, and he studied with Lindler, who taught him an effective method of autosuggestion using a mirror.

His illness continued to worsen, but he still visited Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch, a famed biologist and philosopher living in Germany. His tuberculosis remained, however, and he found no answers to his questions concerning life, death, and the human mind.

In May of 1911, Nakamura Sensei decided to return to Japan by ship. On the way home, at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, he came across a yoga and meditation teacher named Kaliapa. He followed Kaliapa to the village of Gorkhe, which lies between China and India at the foot of the third peak of Mt. Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas.

Via the practice of yogic meditation, Nakamura Sensei experienced spiritual realization and awakened his higher mind after two years and several months of practice. His tuberculosis disappeared. He would later become the first Japanese to introduce yoga style philosophy and meditation to Japan.

At 37 years old, while returning from India to Japan, Nakamura Sensei stopped in Shanghai. There he met his old friend Yamaza Enjiro, then Japanese Ambassador to China. By his request, Nakamura Sensei joined the second Xinhai Geming Revolution. He assisted Sun Wen, and he became one of his highest political advisers. However, the revolution failed, and he came home to Japan. In a few years, he became President of the Tokyo Bank of Business & Savings. He also successfully managed several companies and played an active role in the Japanese business community.

At 43 years old, Nakamura Sensei was suddenly inspired to abandon his social position and wealth to found the Toitsu-Kai ("Association for Unification"). This was later renamed the Toitsu Tetsui Gakkai, the "Unification Philosophy and Medical Research Institute," and it was dedicated to helping people to improve their mental and physical health.

He began offering free classes in Shin-shin-toitsu-do, "The Way of Mind and Body Unification," which took place daily at Ueno Park and Hibiya Park in Tokyo. In September of this year, Mukai Iwao, Chief Prosecutor, noticed him and introduced him to Prime Minister Hara Takashi(8). Prime Minister Hara said, "This is a man to speak in a proper place, not in the streets."

As the result, many well-known people in political and financial circles came to attend his public lectures. Admiral Togo Heihachiro(9); Sugiura Jugo (10), a famed educator; and Ishikawa Sodo, a renowned Zen Buddhist priest of Sojiji Temple in Tsurumi, Yokohama are just a few of his early famous students.

Nakamura Tempu Performing Calligraphy

At the age of 47, at the request of Justice Minister Yokota Sennosuke, Nakamura Sensei was asked to intervene in a dispute involving the Korean Keinan Railway. During the process of successfully resolving this dispute, he met Saito Makoto, Korean Governor, and Nakamura Sensei established a Korean branch of his association.

When Nakamura Sensei was 48, famed Navy Admiral Yamamoto Eisuke (then President of the Japanese Naval Academy) advised Marquis Komatsu to become one of his students. Yamamoto was, at that time, President of the Japanese Naval Academy. By the recommendation of Komatsu (former Prince Kitashirakawa Teruhisa), he lectured several times to three Imperial princes (Higashi Kuni, Kita Shirakawa, and Takeda).

Many prominent people such as Ozaki Yukio (Justice Minister of Japan), Goto Shinpei (Interior Minister of Japan and President of Manchuria Railway), and Asano Soichiro (founder of Asano Cement Company) came to attend his lectures on Shin-shin-toitsu-do (a.k.a. Japanese yoga).

In December of 1924, the Kansai Headquarters of the Toitsu Tetsui Gakkai was established in Osaka.

When Nakamura Sensei was 49 his lecture entitled "Yamai and Byoki" ("Illness and Worrying about It") was put on air throughout Japan by the Osaka Broadcasting Station on June 8. His program was broadcast just eight days after the radio station was established. (Nakamura Sensei was one of Japan's first on-air featured speakers. History's inaugural radio broadcast in Japan took place on March 22, 1925 from Tokyo's Atago Mountain.)

1925 to 1947
From 1925 on, many district branches of the Toitsu Tetsui Gakkai were established in Kyoto, Nagoya, Kobe, Otaru (Hokkaido). In January 1940, the Toitsu Tetsui Gakkai was renamed the Tempu-Kai (the "Tempu Society"). Many seminars and activities were held nationwide until the start of World War II.

In March 1945 (the last year of WWII), Japan's wartime military government ordered the demolition of Tempu-Kai's headquarters in Tokyo. This was due to Nakamura Sensei's pacifist philosophy and public denouncements of the war.

In October 1946, the first Shin-shin-toitsu-do lectures after the war took place in the hall of the Toranomon Building in Shibaku, Tokyo. From that date, every month public lectures were held at various places in the war-ruined metropolis.

In October 1947, at the age of 71, Nakamura Sensei taught Japanese yoga (Shin-shin-toitsu-do) for three days to an audience of about 250 officials of the U.S. Army General Headquarters at the request of Commander Eikelburger. This seminar took place in the basement hall of the Mainichi Press Building. The millionaire John D. Rockefeller III happened to be in the audience. Impressed by the teachings of Japanese yoga, he offered to bring Nakamura Sensei to the USA to teach. Nakamura Sensei declined and stated that his first priority was to reestablish the health of the citizens of war torn Japan.

Japanese yoga activities began to take place throughout Japan.

Nakamura Tempu Sensei

Nakamura Sensei passed away on December 1, 1968 at the age of 92.

1968 to the present
The students directly taught by Nakamura Tempu Sensei numbered more than a 100,000. He taught people from all walks of life and from every part of Japan.

Among the past and present students of Shin-shin-toitsu-do are members of the Japanese Imperial Family, government officials, business leaders, famous scholars, Japanese Order of Culture recipients, Olympic gold medalists, well-known actors, and celebrated novelists.

At present, the only international organization to offer English language instruction in Nakamura Sensei's original teachings is the Kokusai Nihon Yoga Renmei (International Japanese Yoga Association) of Kyoto. Membership is free and includes a bilingual certificate and a subscription to the IJYA Journal. Visit to become a member.

Sawai Atshuhiro and H. E. Davey are the only authors to date that have written English language books on Nakamura Sensei's original teachings. For more information about these publications, drop by

1. The Yanagawa Clan was famous for cultivating many strong warriors.
2. A person born in Edo was called Edokko. In Japan, just mentioning that a person was Edokko implied that he/she was vigorous and quick to respond.
3. Even today, Shuyu Kan is a famous private high school in Kyushu.
4. The Genyo Sha was a well-known political group, considered to be right wing, which advocated and led a national movement to realize their version of democracy in Japan.
5. Toyama Mitsuru was an influential political activist and the leader of the Genyo Sha. He not only influenced politics in Japan, but he was involved in the Chinese Revolution lead by Sun Wen and the national independence movement in India. Nakamura Sensei was assisted by Toyama in many ways during his life. Toyama helped him get a visa to travel to the USA and helped to put him in a position to teach Japanese yoga to princes and princesses of the Imperial Family.
6. Gakushuin is a special high school to educate the members of the Imperial Family and the sons of the Japanese aristocracy. Later, Gakushuin University was also established. All of Japan's Emperors were educated there.
7. Iwasaki Hisaya was a son of the famed founder of the Mitsubishi Cartel, but this statement seems wrong to Mr. Sawai, because Hisaya was 11 years older than Nakamura Sensei. It might have been his younger brother Koyata, who was three years older than Nakamura Sensei. Koyata studied at Cambridge and became president of the Mitsubishi Company.
8. Hara Takashi was one of the most famous Prime Ministers in Japan. He was well-known for creating the Seiyu-Kai, Japan's first political party, and he contributed to the introduction of democracy in Japan.
9. Togo Heihachiro was a famous Admiral, often compared to Nelson of Britain; he is known as the "Nelson of the East." He led the Japanese fleet to defeat the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Empire during the Japan-Russia War.
10. Sugiura Jugo was a great educator and thinker. He studied chemistry in England, and he became President of Tokyo University (Division of Juniors).