A Profile of Tairyu Furukawa's Life



1920 Born in Saga Prefecture (Japan).
1940 Sent as a soldier in the Japanese Imperial Army to China, where he was wounded.
1944 Graduated from Senshu Institute of the Shingon Sect monastery on Mt.Koya (Wakayama Prefecture).
1945 Became head priest of a Buddhist temple in Saga Prefecture affiliated with the Shingon Sect.
1952 Became an editor of the religious review "Cosmos".Appointed chaplain to the Fukuoka prison and was placed in charge of prisoners condemned to death.
1961 Began a campaign to obtain a retrial for two innocent prisoners condemned to death
(the first such campaign by a prison chaplain in Japan).
1964 Received an award from the Police National Headquarters in Tokyo for collaborating in the arrest of Akira Nishiguchi, a wanted-suspect who had been fleeing across the country and who was subsequently found guilty of committing serial murder.
1969 Received a relic, a lock of Dr. Albert Schweitzer's hair from the late Tadashi Mukai, head of the Dr. Schweitzer Association of Kobe, as a sign of acknowledgement and appreciation for the campaign undertaken to assist the two innocent prisoners.
1973 Founded a new religious institution called Seimeizan (i.e. Mountain of Life) Schweitzer Temple and became its first head priest.
1975 After fifteen years of campaigning, he succeeded in obtaining anmnesty for Mr. Ishii, one of the two condemned prisoners. Mr. Ishii received an indefinite commutation of his sentence, while Mr. Nishi, the other innocent prisoner, was suddenly and secretly executed.
1981 Began lecturing on Thanatology at the University of Industrial Medicine (Fukuoka Prefecture).
1984 Built a monument in Arao (Kumamoto Prefecture) in memory of the hundreds of Chinese who died at the forced labor camps at the coal mines in the Arao region during the Second World War.

Undertook the first pilgrimage of reconciliation and peace to China, commemorating the victims of the Nanjing Massacre perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial Army. Yearly pilgrimages have been conducted since then.
1986 Established with Fr. Franco Sottocornola, an Xaverian Missionary Father in Japan, the Center for Interreligious Dialogue, the first instance in Japan of a Buddhist and Christian activity united in one single religious institution.
1989 Gave lectures on Buddhism and interreligious dialogue at churches and universities during a 40-day stay in Italy and England.

Received his first audience with His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

Attended the Third International Conference of Religious Leaders in Warsaw, Poland. From that time on Rev. Furukawa continuously attended these conferences held in various countries.

Mr. Ishii, one of the two innocent prisoners, who was released on parole after forty-two years and seven months' imprisonment, came to live with the Furukawa family at the Schweitzer Temple.
1994 Held an exhibition of his calligraphic works in five cities in Italy.
Met Mother Teresa in Warsaw, Poland.
1995 Received honorary membership in the Red Cross Society of China.

1998 While in Bucharest, Romania, he met Sr. Helen Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking and a leader in the abolition of capital punishment.
2000 While engaged in preparations for the posthumous retrial of Mr. Nishi, his health suddenly declined. After having lived eighty years, his life came to a close and he entered nirvana.