The reason why I ask this question is that I teach a comprehensive course entitled “Chuo University and Modern Japan” at the Faculty of Law, while researching, collecting, and organizing various documents related to our University in the University History Compilation Office located on the Tama Campus.
The course opened in academic year 2004 with the aim of providing a holistic understanding of Chuo University’s history, covering the first 100 years since its establishment in 1885 up until its 100th anniversary in 1985, linking it to the historical process of modern Japan. The course is run by a total of 8 full-time and part-time instructors taking turns, and divided into two semesters where Course 1 is offered in the spring and Course 2 in the fall.
I teach the history of Chuo University around the time it relocated to Tama, which is covered during the final period of the fall semester. Last year during class, I asked about 30 students in a casual manner where Chuo University was located before it moved to Tama. They looked puzzled. Leaving aside the fact that a majority of these students have been taking this course since spring, I thought about this question for a moment.
Then I suddenly realized the fact that, although obvious, our university existed in Tama well before my current students were born, and that their parents may have studied and graduated here as well. If Chuo students currently studying in Tama were to put themselves back in the days when the university existed in Kanda-Surugadai, Chiyoda-Ku, located at the corner of central Tokyo, it would be their grandparents’ era.
As mentioned earlier, Tama Campus opened in 1978. The very beginning of Tama Campus goes back to 1960, however, when the university acquired its land in Tama. Back then, Higashinakano in Hachioji-shi was still called Yugimura in Minamitama-gun.
After World War II, the government established the Standards for Establishment of Universities, demanding better conditions for education and research. At the time, Chuo University had its main campus on a narrow strip of land in Surugadai and was trying to improve its conditions by purchasing land where the current Korakuen Campus is located. We had a baseball field in Kichijoji, a sports ground in Nerima, and a pool in Asagaya.
The Tama Campus project was originally based on the university’s plan to concentrate sports facilities and upgrade general education courses through relocation to comply with the government’s Standards for Establishment of Universities. In addition to a sports ground, the university built various arenas for track, baseball, rugby, and tennis, as well as classrooms and laboratories for academic courses, utilizing its spacious land, while providing professional education basically in Surugadai. After several changes were made to the plan later on, partly due to the oil crisis in 1973, the university relocated all of its four Faculties (including both daytime and evening courses) in the humanities space, namely the Faculty of Law, Economics, Commerce, and Letters, to Tama after marking 54 years of history in Surugadai. We often hear stories about a university relocating one or two of its faculties, but no other private university in the Tokyo area has taken the pioneering approach of fully relocating its campus from the urban core to the suburbs.
Chuo University held a lavish ceremony to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 1977 at the Tama Campus following its completion. At their new venue in Tama, many referred to the university’s full-fledged relocation as a 100-year project.
Allow me to return to the story about my lecture last year. I conducted a survey for my first class, asking students what the beauty of the Tama Campus was. I received various interesting answers, but a vast majority of the comments concentrated on the abundant nature surrounding the campus. While some may think this is obvious and one of the few qualities to point out, it showed that the students were enjoying the benefits of Tama Campus—the refreshing verdant view from the fourth-floor library, the indescribable pleasure of the wide blue sky, and the soothing experience of seasonal changes. These are all unique in many levels compared to the high-rise universities in the city center.
This experience, in my opinion, is the most attractive quality of the Tama Campus. Why is this experience so attractive? That is because it leads to the heightening of your senses. This campus itself is a precious spiritual environment that naturally sharpens your five senses, facilitates communication among students, and strengthens their relationships.
We will soon be hosting the Hakumon Festival, one of Chuo University’s biggest events organized by our students. The number of visitors has apparently been 50,000-60,000 for the past few years. This outstanding planning ability and customer attraction capacity are driven by our students’ energy, power, and communication skills.
Although this is only an example of their potential, I think the source of their energy lies in the quality of the Tama Campus. As I recall, the copy for our 100th anniversary in 1985 was “Knowledge Needs Scale.”
I believe that, while taking root in Tama, Chuo University will continue to be the communal center of intellectual and cultural activities.