Hayao Kawai was born in Sasayama-city of Hyogo prefecture in 1928. He was a clinical psychologist and an honorary professor at Kyoto University. He earned a doctorate in education from Kyoto University. From February of 2002 to January of 2007, he was Commissioner of Cultural Affairs (third person to be given the post of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs as a private citizen, and the first in 17 years).
After graduating from the Department of Science at Kyoto University in 1952, he studied abroad in the United States, and later acquired the qualification as a Jungian analyst at the Jung Institute of Switzerland, which was a first for a Japanese. Later, he established the Japan Association of Sandplay Therapy and the Japanese Society of Certified Clinical Psychologists as part of his contributions to the understanding and practice of Jungian analysis domestically and internationally.
In 1982, Kawai won the Osaragi Jiro Prize with The Japanese Psyche: Major Motifs in the Fairy Tales of Japan, and in 1988, he won the Shincho Prize of Arts and Sciences with The Buddhist Priest Myoe: A Life of Dreams. Aside from the works mentioned above, there are many works such as Buddhism And The Art Of Psychotherapy, Depth of Japan’s Hollow Center Structure, Torikaebaya Man and Woman, Die Frauen um Prinz Genji – Eine Japanische Geschichte voller Weisheit (German Edition), Myth and Japanese Psyche, Trip to Navaho Scenery of the Soul, and his posthumous work, Hachan the Crybaby(愛哭鬼小隼 Chinese version).
Kawai was the council chair and advisor to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology as part of the personal advisory group to the former prime minister Obuchi, Initiatives of Japan in the 21st Century, and contributed in many ways to Japanese politics and education. In 1995, he received the Purple Ribbon Medal; in 1996, he won the Cultural Prize by Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK); in 1998, he won the Asahi Prize; and in 2000, he was designated a Person of Cultural Merit. In August 2006, he suffered a stroke and passed away on July 19, 2007.