Tatsuo Kishimoto, Kozo Miyagi, and Misao Yashiro founded the Meiji Law School, the predecessor of Meiji University. All three were born in the Kaei era, between 1848 and 1853, to lower-class samurai families. Kishimoto was raised in Tottori, Miyagi in Tendo, and Yashiro in Sabae, all rural areas far away from the capital.
After the revolution ending the Tokugawa shogunate, they were selected to study in Tokyo at the behest of the newly formed Meiji Government. They met each other at the Meihoryo (the Meiji Law Residence, later to become the Ministry of Justice Law School), which had been established with the purpose of quickly developing judicial officers. At this school, the three young men studied French law under the supervision of the famous French jurist, Boissonade, and other foreign teachers, after which they each went their own way. Kishimoto and Miyagi went to study in France, the former becoming a justice and the latter a public prosecutor after returning to Japan. Yashiro secured a position in the House of Elders, the legislative branch of the government, and as such was in charge of the education and administration at such private law schools as the Kohogakusha (founded by Doryu Kitabatake).