Happy Science

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Happy Science
Kōfuku no Kagaku
Formation6 October 1986; 37 years ago (1986-10-06)
FoundersRyuho Okawa
TypeJapanese new religious movement
Headquarters1-2-38 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan
11 million (self-claimed),[1] 30,000 (estimated)[2]
Ryuho Okawa
Websitehappy-science.org Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
The Institute for Research in Human Happiness (until 2008)[a]
Ryuho Okawa, 15 February 2015

Happy Science (幸福の科学, Kōfuku-no-Kagaku), formerly known as the Institute for Research in Human Happiness,[a] is a controversial cult and new religious movement.

The Happy Science group includes a publication division called IRH Press, schools such as Happy Science Academy and Happy Science University, a political party called the Happiness Realization Party, and three media entertainment divisions, which are called New Star Production, ARI Production and HS Pictures Studio.

The group was founded in Japan on 6 October 1986 by former Wall Street trader Ryuho Okawa (1956-2023) whose followers regarded him as the incarnation of a supreme being from Venus.[4]


On 15 July 1986, Ryuho Okawa resigned from his position at TOMEN Corporation [ja] (now Toyota Tsusho) to found his own organization on October 6, which he dubbed Happy Science;[5] the Japanese government did not certify it as a religious organization until 7 March 1991. According to Ryuho Okawa, its aim is "to bring happiness to humanity by spreading truth". Before its foundation, Ryuho Okawa had published various books of "spiritual messages" that claim to channel the words spoken by religious and historical figures such as Jesus Christ, Confucius and Nichiren. In 1987, he printed The Laws of the Sun, The Golden Laws, and The Laws of Eternity, forming the core textbooks of Happy Science, along with its fundamental sutra The Dharma of the Right Mind.[6]


The basic teachings of Happy Science are "Exploration of the Right Mind", "The Fourfold Path", and El Cantare belief. According to Okawa, in order to obtain happiness one must practice the Principles of Happiness known as "The Fourfold Path": love that gives, wisdom, self-reflection, and progress. The only requirement to join Happy Science is that applicants must have "the aspiration and discipline to seek the truth and actively contribute to the realization of love, peace and happiness on Earth".[7] Among other teachings, they believe in the existence of reincarnation, angels, demons, heaven and hell, and aliens.[2] Members of Happy Science attend training courses (研修会, kenshūkai) and "qualification seminars" (資格セミナー, shikaku seminā) in order to increase their level within the group's hierarchy.[8]

At the same time, the organization's political wing, the Happiness Realization Party, promotes political views that include support for Japanese military expansion, support for the use of nuclear deterrence,[9] and denial of historical events such as the Nanjing Massacre in China and the comfort women issue in South Korea—see the Japanese-language version of the organization's online news bulletin, The Liberty.[10] Some other views include infrastructure spending, natural disaster prevention, urban development, and dam construction.[11] They also advocate fiscal conservatism, strengthening the US-Japan alliance, and a virtue-based leadership.[12] As of the spring of 2018, the Happiness Realization Party has 21 local councilors.[13]

Object of worship[edit]

Happy Science worships a deity named El Cantare who they believe is the "Highest God of Earth, the Lord of all gods". They believe that the being was first born on Earth 330 million years ago and that it is the same entity that has been worshipped at different times as Elohim, Odin, Thoth, Ophealis (Osiris), Hermes and Shakyamuni Buddha, with Okawa himself as the current incarnation.[2][14]


Tokyo Shoshinkan in Sengakuji

General headquarters, worship facilities, and missionary sites are located in Japan and other countries. Worship facilities are called Shoja (精舎 or vihara in Sanskrit) or Shoshinkan (正心館). In 1994, the first overseas branch, "Happiness Science USA" was established in New York.[15][16] The organisation has branches in several countries including South Korea, Brazil, Uganda, the UK, Australia, India and Singapore. In addition to places of worship, Happy Science also operates two boarding schools in Nasu and Ōtsu, Japan.[8]


Happy Science is a cult[14][17][18][19][20][21][22] [23][24] and one of many controversial Japanese new religions (shinshūkyō),[25] Through the 1990s the group had a bitter rivalry with doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo culminating in a failed assassination attempt on Okawa using the nerve agent VX injected into his car's air conditioning. It was one of many VX attacks by Aum members leading up to the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack which killed 14 and injured more than 5000 people.

Happy Science has also released promotional videos claiming, without evidence, that North Korea and the People's Republic of China are plotting the nuclear destruction of Japan.[17] The group has sold "spiritual vaccines," falsely claiming that they prevent and cure COVID-19, advertised virus-related blessings at rates from US$100 to over US$400, and sold coronavirus-themed DVDs and CDs of Okawa lecturing, which make false claims of supposedly boosting immunity, as of April 2020. After initially defying physical distancing measures, it later closed its New York temple, announcing that it had administered their fraudulent "vaccines" remotely.[2]

In February 2017, actress Fumika Shimizu abruptly retired from her former entertainment production agency amidst multiple filming projects for a full-time role in Happy Science, declaring she had been a member of the group since childhood, under the influence of her parents, both of whom were longtime believers in Happy Science.[1]

Okawa's son and potential successor, Hiroshi Okawa, left the movement and is now one of its outspoken critics. In an article in The New York Times, he commented, "I believe what my father does is complete nonsense".[2] His father has denounced Hiroshi as "demonic" and possessed by devils and the group has sued him for defamation.[2][26] In a 2022 interview with The World, Hiroshi described Happy Science as a "cult". Regarding Ryuho Okawa's spiritual channeling sessions, Hiroshi said "It's just a performance". Hiroshi also estimated the number of Happy Science members to be around 13,000.[27]

On February 10, 2022, the fifth chapter of anthology manga "Kami-sama" no Iru Ie de Sodachimashita ~Shūkyō 2-Sei na Watashi-tachi~ (A Home Life With God ~We Children Born Into Religion~) written by Mariko Kikuchi as a criticism of Happy Science and other fringe religious organizations was removed by the publisher, Shueisha following backlash from Happy Science. The other chapters were removed on March 17, 2022. It was later reported by the Weekly Flash magazine in April.[28]


  1. ^ a b "Fumika Shimizu Retires From Acting to Join Happy Science Religious Organization". Anime News Network. February 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kestenbaum, Sam (16 April 2020). "Inside the Fringe Japanese Religion That Claims It Can Cure Covid-19". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 March 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  3. ^ Handbook of UFO Religions. Brill. 8 March 2021. p. 491. ISBN 9789004435537. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  4. ^ Kestenbaum, Sam (16 April 2020). "Inside the Fringe Japanese Religion That Claims It Can Cure Covid-19". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Astley 1995, p. 347
  6. ^ Shimazono, Susumu (2004). From Salvation to Spirituality: Popular Religious Movements in Modern Japan (English ed.). Melbourne, Vic.: Trans Pacific. p. 267. ISBN 1876843128.
  7. ^ "Happy Science - About Us". Happy Science Singapore. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b Baffelli, Erica (24 June 2017). "Contested Positioning : "New Religions" and Secular Spheres". Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies. Japan Review. 30: 140–141 – via Nichibunken Open Access.
  9. ^ "The Happiness Realization Party". En.hr-party.jp. 21 September 2012. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  10. ^ "The Liberty Web" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Happiness Realization Party". Happiness Realization Party. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Happiness Realization Party". Happiness Realization Party. Archived from the original on 12 June 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  13. ^ About Japanese 50 new region (Japanese ed.). Takarajima. 19 April 2017. ISBN 978-4800270443.
  14. ^ a b Saint-Guily, Sylla (3 October 2012). "Happy Science Is the Laziest Cult Ever". Vice. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015.
  15. ^ 『「幸福の科学」教団史2008 法輪、転ずべし』p57
  16. ^ 「月刊 幸福の科学」1994年2月号p50
  17. ^ a b McNeill, David (4 August 2009), "Party offers a third way: happiness", The Japan Times, archived from the original on 7 November 2013, retrieved 6 August 2009
  18. ^ "Trump's 'stop the steal' message finds an international audience among conspiracy theorists and suspected cults". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  19. ^ Musasizi, Simon (21 June 2012). "Clerics call for probe into Happy Science". The Observer. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Happy Science, a new cult offers celebrity guide to heaven". The Jakarta Post. 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012.
  21. ^ Donnelly, Beau (2 November 2015). "Blooming 'Happy Science' religion channels Disney, Gandhi, Jesus and Thatcher". The Age. Archived from the original on 5 December 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Japanese cult representative is speaking for the 10th year in a row at CPAC". The Independent. 9 April 2021. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  23. ^ Gilbert, David (25 February 2021). "A Japanese Cult That Believes Its Leader Is an Alien From Venus Is Speaking at CPAC". www.vice.com. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  24. ^ Adelstein, Jake (26 February 2021). "Speaking at CPAC: Former Leader of Magical Cult That Channels Ghost of Trump". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  25. ^ Muhumuza, Rodney (10 July 2012). "Happy Science, Controversial Religion From Japan, Succeeds in Uganda". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  26. ^ "Japan's Strangest Cult?". False Gods. 28 March 2021. Event occurs at 7:10. Vice Media. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  27. ^ Winn, Patrick (30 November 2022). "Japan's infamous 'happy' cult sets sights on the United States". The World. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  28. ^ "Shueisha Removes Web Manga About Children Born Into Religion Following Alleged Backlash From Happy Science". Anime News Network. Retrieved 12 April 2022.


  1. ^ a b This was the official English name until 2008, while the Japanese name was, and continues to be, 幸福の科学 ("Happy Science"). The English name was abbreviated IRH or IRHH.[3]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]