In 1929 he graduated from Tokyo University majoring in Theology, Religious Studies and Philosophy. He travelled all over the world and in 1933 participated at the World Conference of the Religions. In 1949 he published the Tenrikyo Doctrine.
Most of the judokas around the world think that the name of Tenri is related to a judo club, but in reality it is the name of the above religion. It was the latter that gave the name to the city. Originally there were three villages Tambaichi, Shoyashiki and Isonokami which thanks to the religion became rather wealthy. The people from the villages talked to the Nakayama family because they wanted to unifiy the three villages and call the new city Tenri. Shozen Nakayama opposed this idea as he did not wish to mingle politics with the religion. But thanks to a popular referendum the motion passed and the city of Tenri was born.
In 1925 the 2nd Shimbashira founded the University which included a foreign language department. It was the 1st private language school in japan. He adopted a co-education system which was quite rare in Japan. He faced many challenges in order to allow the students to develop their individual talents. The intellectual formation was predominant. His intention was to well prepare the missionaries to send all over the world.
Shozen Nakayama started judo practice as well as other sports quite young. According to him sport was a mean to thank God who has landed the body to the athletes.
In the sports world he occupied several places among which Head of the Sports Association, Councelor of the Swimming and Judo Federations. It is for this reason that many sports are practiced at Tenri University, but his main focus and passion has always been on judo, which he taught also his kids.
He found in Kano Shihan’s principles those of the “Joyous Way” of the Tenrikyo. He loved to say that all human beings are brothers and sisters and that is has to become the reality within the entire world. If you think that judo is the best use of the body and the spirit “Seryoku Zenyo” and in mutual welfare “Jita Kyoiei”, then the meaning of judo within the “Joyous Way” clarifies itself.
The reason why so many judokas from the Western world are attracted by Tenri Judo is clarified by Sensei Shozo Awazu 9th Dan, who is the technical reference within the French Judo Federation. He says: “In Tenri there is a very big dojo. It is the second dojo after the one of the Kodokan.”