He was born in the province of Hizen ill in 1838, which is now Saga prefecture. His father was an officer in the artillery, and during his early years his education consisted mainly of the study of Chinese literature. Happily for him, however, he was able to acquire in his youth a knowledge of English and Dutch, and by the help of some missionaries he succeeded in obtaining books in those languages on both scientific and political subjects. These works effected a complete revolution in his mind. He had been designed by his parents for the military profession, but the new light which now broke in upon him determined him to devote his entire energies to the abolition of the existing feudal system and to the establishment of a constitutional government. With impetuous zeal he urged his views on his countrymen, and though he took no active part.
He is a founder of Waseda University.