A History of Japanese Literature/Book 6/Chapter 2

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CHAPTER II

THE KANGAKUSHA (Chinese Scholars)


Towards the end of the Muromachi period, learning in Japan had reached its lowest ebb. Hideyoshi, at the height of his power and fame, was an ignorant man, as letters written by him remain to testify, and he had great difficulty in finding scholars competent to conduct the negotiations with China and Corea which arose out of his invasion of the latter country. He was, however, a friend of learning. His successor Iyeyasu (1603–1632) fully recognised the necessity of wider knowledge for building up the new social and political fabric which he created. His patronage of printing has been already mentioned. He also established schools, and devoted much attention to the collection and preservation of printed books and manuscripts. A special department was provided by him, where he employed a staff of monks in copying out the family records of the Daimios.

Among the scholars who enjoyed Iyeyasu's patronage the most eminent was Fujiwara Seikwa, a native of Harima, where he was born in 1560. Himself a poet, he was a descendant of Fujiwara Sadaiye, a well-known Tanka-writer of the thirteenth century. As a boy he gave great promise of talent. He received the Buddhist tonsure, but soon recognised the emptiness of Buddhism, and applied himself with great diligence to the study of the ancient Chinese literature. Finding, however, that the difficulties caused by the want of competent teachers and suitable text-books were too great for him to surmount, he made up his mind to go to China and continue his studies there. He had got as far as the province of Satsuma, and was waiting for a ship, when one of those apparently trivial incidents occurred which exercise a profound influence on the fate of a nation. He overheard a boy in the house next to the inn where he was staying read aloud from a Chinese book which was unfamiliar to him. Upon inquiry, it proved to be a commentary by Chu-Hi on the "Great Learning" of Confucius. A brief examination showed him its importance. Equally delighted and astonished, Seikwa exclaimed, "This is what I have so long been in want of." Eventually he discovered a complete set of the philosophical works of Ching Hao (1032–1085), Cheng I. (1033–1107), and Chu-Hi (1130–1200), the famous Chinese schoolmen and expositors of the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius under the Sung dynasty. He was so strongly impressed by their perusal, that he resolved to abandon his intention of proceeding to China, and to devote himself entirely to their study at home.

Seikwa subsequently made the acquaintance of Iyeyasu at the camp of Nagoya, where Hideyoshi was then preparing his famous invasion of Corea. Iyeyasu recognised his merit, and sent for him repeatedly to expound the classics; but Seikwa, taking offence at being confounded with the rabble of ordinary monks, pretended illness, and having introduced as his substitute his pupil Hayashi Rasan, retired to a quiet village near Kiōto. Here pupils flocked to him in great numbers, many of them the sons of court nobles or Daimios; and he also received flattering offers of appointments, all of which he declined. In 1614 he was offered a post as teacher in connection with a project of Iyeyasu's for establishing a school at Kiōto. This proposal he accepted, but some civil disorders which broke out soon after rendered this scheme abortive. Seikwa died in 1619 in his fifty-ninth year. He left nothing which deserves notice as literature; but it is hardly possible to estimate too highly the service he performed by making known to his countrymen the philosophical literature of the Sung schoolmen. His Kana Seiri may be mentioned as a typical example of his writings. As its title indicates, it is an attempt to facilitate the study of the Sung philosophy in Japan.

The whole literature of the Yedo period is so thoroughly pervaded by moral principles and ideals based on this system of thought, that it is desirable to give a brief outline of it here. Those who wish to make themselves more thoroughly acquainted with it will find the means of doing so in Monseigneur de Harlez's École Philosophique de la Chine, and some able papers contributed by Dr. Knox and others to the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Japan in 1892.

Professedly an exposition of the doctrines of the ancient Chinese sages, the Sung philosophy is in reality an essentially modern system of ontology, ethics, natural philosophy, and principles of government, subjects which to the Chinese mind are inseparable.

According to Chu-Hi, the origin and cause of all things is Taikhi (Taikyoku in Japanese) or the "Great Absolute." The energy evolved by its movement produced the Yang ( in Japanese), and when it came to rest, the Yin (In in Japanese) was the result. The Yang is the active, positive, productive, male principle of nature, while the Yin is regarded as passive or receptive, negative and female. By the mutual action of these two principles the Kosmos was formed out of chaos, the Yin manifesting itself in the settling down of the impure sediment as earth, while the lighter and purer part, representing the Yang, ascended and formed heaven. The Yin and Yang are also the source of the five elements, water, fire, earth, metal, and wood. Each of these has its proper function, on the right discharge of which depend the regular sequence of the four seasons and phenomena generally. These processes go on eternally. There is no such thing as a creation in this system. The energy which produces all these results is called in Chinese K'e, in Japanese Ki (Breath). It follows fixed laws called Li (Ri in Japanese). The precise nature of these two last conceptions has been elucidated (or obscured) by many volumes of dissertations both in China and Japan.

Chu-Hi says little of Ten (Heaven). In his philosophy its place is taken by the more impersonal Taikhi. But in Japan, as with Confucius and Mencius, Ten is all-important. It is the nearest approach to a deity which the essentially impersonal habit of mind of these nations permits. Ten or Tendō (the Way of Heaven) is said "to know," "to command," "to reward," "to punish," or "to be wroth," and is looked up to with reverence and grateful emotion. But the conception falls short of that of a personal deity as we understand the phrase. There are in Japan, at any rate, no temples to Ten, no litanies, and no formal acts of worship.

Ethics are in the Chu-Hi system a branch of natural philosophy. Corresponding to the regular changes of the seasons in nature is right action in man (who is the crown of nature) in the relations of sovereign and subject, parent and child, elder brother and younger brother, husband and wife, friend and friend. To his sovereign or lord he is bound to be faithful, to his parents dutiful, and to his elder brother respectful. Affection should characterise the relations of husband and wife, and trust that of friend with friend. A man should also display in his conduct the five virtues of Goodness, Righteousness, Propriety, Enlightenment, and Good Faith. The same combination of ethics and natural science is implied in Confucius's doctrine when he says that the command of Heaven is called natural disposition, accordance with this natural disposition is called the path (of duty), the regulation of this path is called instruction. Man's heart is naturally good. In like manner Kiusō, a Japanese exponent of the Chu-Hi philosophy, says, "Man makes the heart of heaven and earth [nature, we would say] his own."

Principles of government are also found a place in this philosophy. If the sovereign practises the virtues above described in his own person, the people will naturally imitate his example, and good government will be the result. But the necessity of dealing out justly rewards and punishments, of encouraging sages to lead the people in the right way, and of purity in making appointments, is not lost sight of.

The Japanese have added little or nothing to Chu-Hi's philosophy. It is in its application that the national genius reveals itself, and more especially in the relative importance attached by them to the various moral obligations incumbent on man.

It is here that we must look for an answer to a question which will occur to all who take the smallest interest in the Japanese, namely "In what respect does their national character differ from that of European nations?"

The vices and virtues are on the whole the same with them as with ourselves. It is in their "Table of Moral Precedence," as it were, that we discover some striking differences. The most noteworthy instance of this is the commanding position assigned to loyalty, which in the moral ideas of this period overshadows and dwarfs all other obligations. It means not so much the reverent submission due by all his subjects to the Mikado, although in theory this was not lost sight of, as of the Daimios to the Shōgun, and, in a still higher degree, of men of the two-sworded class to their immediate chiefs. Implicit obedience and unfaltering devotion to his feudal lord was the Samurai's most sacred duty. For his lord's sake the retainer was bound not only to lay down his own life cheerfully, but to sacrifice the lives and honour of those nearest and dearest to him. Japanese history and literature teem with instances which show the extreme lengths to which this virtue was carried, not only in theory, but in practice. It was responsible for many acts of barbarity, such as that of Nakamitsu, a favourite hero of Japanese drama and story, who slew his own innocent son, and substituted his head for that of his lord's heir, who had been guilty of a capital offence. But there was also associated with it unshrinking courage, loyal service, and disinterested self-sacrifice to a degree for which we must go to ancient Rome to find a parallel. The political system of which this virtue was the vital support is now a thing of the past. Daimios and Shōguns exist no longer. But those who know the Japan of the present day will readily recognise the same quality in the spirit of national patriotism and zeal in the discharge of public duty which honourably distinguish the descendants of the former Samurai.

Next after loyalty in the Japanese scale of virtues stands filial piety. The State being composed of families, if the family is badly managed, the State cannot be well governed. If the child is disobedient to his parents, he is not likely to prove a loyal and obedient subject when he grows to manhood. Hence the necessity, from a political point of view, of filial piety. On the extreme importance attached to this virtue both in China and Japan it is needless to dilate.

Among the chief duties of a Samurai to his lord, or of a child towards his parent, was that of revenge. The forgiveness of injuries had no place in the moral code of the Japanese of this time. No more stern obligation rested on them than to execute dire vengeance for the unmerited death or disgrace of a parent or lord. That this was not in theory only, there are many well-authenticated instances in real life to show. It applied to women as well as to men, though in their case, as in that of the lower classes of society, it was regarded more or less as a counsel of perfection. If they did rise to the occasion, all the more honour was paid them. The drama and fiction of modern Japan are full of stories of revenge (kataki-uchi), and this passion occupies the same place of honour with their novelists that love does in European fiction.

In presence of the obligations imposed by loyalty and filial duty, life was regarded as of no account. When we remember the humane Buddhist influences to which Japan was so long subjected, and the ancient national character reflected in the mildly sentimental Heian literature, the disregard of human life which pervades history and fiction alike during the Yedo period is not a little remarkable. It is conspicuously observable in the ethics of suicide. The moral code of this time contains no canon 'gainst self-slaughter. On the contrary, the occasions when a Japanese Samurai was bound to commit suicide were innumerable. Grave insults which it was impossible to revenge, unmerited disgrace, gross blundering, errors of judgment, or even simple failure in official matters, crimes not of a disgraceful character, all entailed the necessity of suicide, or at least made it the most honourable course to pursue. If a Samurai had occasion to remonstrate with his lord for some act of misgovernment, he frequently emphasised his appeal by suicide. The case of the forty-seven Rōnins who slew themselves in a body at the grave of their master after having executed a bloody revenge on his enemy, is known to all readers of Mr. Mitford's Tales of Old Japan. Another admired example is that of a governor of Nagasaki who in 1808 committed suicide in the approved manner because he was unable to detain and destroy a British man-of-war which had defied his authority. The case of the last of the Shōguns may also be quoted. On the downfall of his power in 1867 he was urged by one of his Council to save the honour of his family by a voluntary suicide. He flatly refused to do so and left the room, whereupon his faithful adviser retired to another part of the castle and solemnly performed the hara-kiri.[1] Of suicides, attempted suicides, or threatened suicides of men, women, and children, on the stage and in fiction, there is simply no end.

Human nature being the same everywhere, the duties arising out of the relations of the sexes are essentially the same in Japan as in Europe. Chastity, both in men and women, is a virtue, as it is with ourselves. But in the Yedo period it was thrust into the background by the more urgent claims of loyalty and filial duty. In theory a man should have but one wife. In the case of the heads of great houses, one or even more concubines were allowed, but only with the bonâ fide object of having children. Vulgar licentiousness was condemned, and in the case of officials was visited with severe punishment.

The position of the wife, as of women generally, was very different in the Yedo period from what it had been in earlier times. Chinese notions of the absolute subjection and the seclusion, as far as possible, of the sex, made great progress. Women were now rarely heard of in public life, and disappear completely from the world of literature—a significant fact when we remember the feminine masterpieces of the Heian period. A woman's first duty was to be faithful and obedient to her husband. Second marriages of widows were not absolutely forbidden, but women who refused to contract such unions were highly commended, and when we meet with the word "chastity" in a Japanese book, it is generally this form of the virtue which is meant. A wife was bound to revenge her husband's murder, and in fiction at least was permitted to sacrifice her own honour with this praiseworthy object. Some European travellers and novelists speak as if an unmarried woman's maiden fame were a thing of no account in Japan. This is simple nonsense. But it can hardly be denied that more particularly in their case chastity holds a lower place in the scale of virtues than in Christian countries. According to the code of morality of novelists and dramatists, it is permissible for, and even obligatory on, a girl to allow herself to be sold into prostitution in order to support her destitute parents. Incidents of this kind are very common indeed in their pages.

The harlot figures very prominently in the literature of the Yedo period, and in Japan, as elsewhere, writers have not been wanting who have done their best to surround this calling with a halo of romance. But, as Mitford has shown, Japanese opinion on this subject is on the whole sound. There may be some difference of degree, but of the substantial identity of the feeling with which prostitution is regarded by them and by ourselves there can be no doubt. The proverb, "When you find an honest harlot and a three-cornered egg, the moon will appear on the last day of the [lunar] month," very clearly indicates the general opinion of this class.

Piety, by which must be understood a devotion to Buddhist religious practices, was not in high estimation under the Tokugawas. It is not a distinctive virtue of the Japanese character at any period of their history.

On the extreme punctiliousness and ceremony which characterised all the doings of a well-bred Japanese, of his sensitiveness on the point of honour, and of his cult of the sword as a sort of incarnation of the spirit of the Samurai, this is not the place to dilate. Nor need anything be said of the virtues of frugality, sobriety, honesty, and liberality, as they hold practically the same position in Japan as with ourselves. The duties of superiors to their inferiors, of a lord to his retainer, of a father to his son, and of a husband towards his wife, may also be taken for granted. Though less frequently insisted upon, they are by no means passed over by the Japanese moralist.

As time went on, the code of morals derived from the teachings of the philosophers of China, and expounded and applied by their Japanese followers, gained in precision and detail. But what had originally been a wholesome and vivifying influence became a burden to the nation. It fell most heavily on the Samurai, all whose actions were governed by strict rules and punctilious etiquette, in a way which was fatal to any reasonable share of personal freedom. In short, the great fault of the later Shōgunate was over-regulation in almost every department of life. I was one day walking with the late Count Terashima, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, in one of those beautiful creations of the landscape gardener's art which abound in Tokio. He pointed to a grove of fir-trees standing by an artificial lake, which had been trimmed and trained by generations of gardeners into quaint and not unpleasing but stunted shapes. "There," he said, "is an emblem of the Japanese nation under the Bakufu [Shōgunate]. That is what Chinese learning did for us."

There is much in this type of humanity which it is hard for us Europeans to understand and appreciate. The Japanese of the ancient classical period appeal more strongly to our sympathies. Even Herodotus and Plato, far removed as they are from us in point of time, are immeasurably nearer to modern Englishmen in all their ideas, sentiments, and moral standards, than the Japanese of fifty years ago.

Fujiwara Seikwa was the forerunner of a long series of Kangakusha. His pupils became in their turn teachers, and handed on the torch of learning, which now began to burn brightly. It is difficult to give an idea of the rage for the acquisition of knowledge which possessed the Japanese people during the seventeenth century. It can only be compared to the passion for European learning of the last thirty years.

Following the example of the great founder of their dynasty, the Tokugawa Shōguns encouraged learning by every means in their power. They founded libraries and colleges, subsidised professors, and were liberal of their favours to all eminent scholars. Tsunayoshi, the fifth Tokugawa Shōgun (1680–1709), an indifferent ruler, was passionately fond of learning. He surrounded himself with scholars, and spent all his leisure time in study. He used even to deliver lectures on the Chinese classics to audiences composed of Daimios and high officials, Shinto functionaries and Buddhist priests. It was in his time that Yedo began to take prominence as a literary centre.

The Daimios, in their turn, vied with one another in attracting distinguished Kangakusha to their service, and in establishing high schools for the teaching of the classics, Chinese and Japanese history and composition. Nor were the people neglected. Nearly every temple had a terakoya attached to it, where the children of peasants, mechanics, and tradespeople were instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

It is impossible to notice all the Kangakusha who flourished at this time, or to enumerate their most voluminous writings. They do not take high rank as literature. A word of mention is due, however, to Hayashi Rasan, also called Dōshun, with half-a-dozen other aliases, which it is needless to reproduce here. All the Kangakusha indulged in a profusion of aliases, much to the confusion of bibliographers and writers on Japanese literature. Dōshun (b. 1583, d. 1657) was a pupil of Seikwa. He was a devoted student, and never passed a day in his life without reading something. It is related of him that once, when obliged to flee from his house by a great conflagration, he took some books with him in his kago, and continued his work of annotation on the way. The list of his publications comprises one hundred and seventy separate treatises, mostly of a scholastic or moral character. There are also some memoirs useful to the historian, and one hundred and fifty volumes of miscellanies, essays, &c. He held an official position under the Shōgun's Government, by which he was employed in drafting laws, and in giving advice on knotty questions which required learning for their solution. He was the founder of a long line of official Kangakusha which lasted until the downfall of the Shōgunate in 1867.

His son, Hayashi Shunsai (1618–1680) compiled about 1652 a history of Japan entitled Ō-dai-ichi-ran. It is in every respect a very poor production, and is only mentioned here because a translation into French by Klaproth was published by the Oriental Translation Fund in 1835.

Passing over a number of scholars deservedly remembered with gratitude in their own country for their services to learning and good morals, we come to Kaibara Yekken (1630–1714), who was born at Fukuoka, in Chikuzen, of the Daimios of which province his family were hereditary retainers. His father held an official appointment as physician, and Yekken himself acquired some proficiency in the art of medicine. His first teacher was his elder brother, under whose instructions he was weaned of a liking for Buddhism, and devoted himself to the study of the Chinese classics. When he grew up to manhood he went to reside in Kiōto, where he benefited by the instruction of Kinoshita Junan and other scholars. He had, however, no regular teacher. After three years spent in study he returned to his province, where he held honourable official posts under three successive Daimios until 1700, when he retired on a pension, and took up his abode in Kiōto, where he spent the remainder of his days. His wife is said to have been an accomplished woman. She accompanied him on his travels to various parts of Japan, and assisted him in his literary labours.

Yekken was a voluminous writer, and in the course of a long life (the Kangakusha were remarkable for longevity) produced over a hundred different works, comprising moral treatises, commentaries on the Chinese classics, learned dissertations on Japanese philology, botanical works, and books of travel. His sole object in writing was to benefit his countrymen; and his style, though manly and vigorous, is wholly devoid of rhetorical ornament, and of those frivolities of language which were so freely indulged in by contemporary novelists and dramatists. He used the Kana or native phonetic script as far as possible, so as to bring his teachings down to the level of children and ignorant people. Though perhaps the most eminent scholar of his day, there is not an atom of pedantry about him. No Japanese books are more easy of comprehension than his. Their principal fault is one very common with Japanese writers of the Yedo period, namely, diffuseness and repetition.

Due allowance being made for his age and country, Yekken's writings are full of excellent morality of a plain, common-sense description. It is hardly possible to overestimate their influence, or the service which he rendered to his country by his teachings.

The following detached sentences from the Dōjikun, a treatise on education, composed by him at the age of eighty, will give some idea of their quality. They have been somewhat abridged in translation.

"In the houses of the great, good persons should be chosen from the first to be attached to the child. Even the poor should be careful, so far as their circumstances will permit, that their children should associate with good people. This is the teaching of the [Chinese] sages."

"A wet-nurse should be of a gentle disposition, staid and grave of demeanour, and of few words."

"A boy's education should begin from the time when he can eat rice, speak a little, and show pleasure or anger."

"Some nurses make cowards of children by wantonly telling them frightful stories. Ghost stories and the like should not be told to children. They should not be too warmly clad, or have too much to eat."

"Cunning, chattering, lying women should not be engaged as nurses. Drunkards, self-willed or malicious persons should also be avoided."

"From their infancy, truth in word and thought should be made of the first importance. Children should be severely punished for lying or deceit. Let their parents be careful not to deceive them, for this is another way of teaching them to deceive."

"A tutor should be a man of upright life. A child should not be put to learn of a disreputable person, no matter how clever he may be."

"Better for a child to lose a year's study than consort for a day with a base companion."

"Every night the child's sayings and actions during the day should be reviewed, and if necessary, punishment administered."

"At the age of ten a boy should go to school. If he remains longer at home he is apt to be spoiled by his parents."

"Before sitting down to study, a boy should wash his hands, set a guard upon his thoughts, and compose his countenance. He should brush the dust off his desk, place his books upon it in an orderly manner, and read them in a kneeling posture. When he is reading to his teacher, he should not rest his book on a high desk, but on its case or on a low stand. It should certainly not be placed on the floor. Books should be kept clean, and when they are no longer required, the covers should be put on, and they should be put back in their place. This should be done even when the pupil is called away for some urgency. Books should not be flung about, stridden over, or used as pillows. The corners should not be turned down, or spittle used to raise the leaves. If waste paper contains texts from the classics or the names of sages, boys should be careful not to apply it to common purposes. Nor should waste paper with the names of one's parents or lord be defiled."

Yekken devotes the third volume of the Dōjikun to the education of girls. The two great virtues of a woman are, in his opinion, amiability and obedience. In another place he sums up the good qualities of a woman as—

"1st. A womanly disposition, as shown in modesty and submissiveness.

"2nd. Womanly language. She should be careful in the choice of words, and avoid lying and unseemly expressions. She should speak when necessary, and be silent at other times. She should not be averse to listening to others.

"3rd. Womanly apparel. She should be cleanly, avoid undue ornament, and have a proper regard to taste and refinement.

"4th. Womanly arts. These include sewing, reeling silk, making clothes, and cooking.

"Everything impure should be kept from a girl's ears. Popular songs and the popular drama are not for them. The Ise Monogatari and Genji Monogatari are objectionable on account of their immoral tendency."

Yekken recommends parents to write out the following thirteen counsels and give them to their daughters on their marriage. I have abbreviated them a good deal.

"1. Be respectful and obedient to your parents-in-law.

"2. A woman has no [feudal] lord. She should reverence and obey her husband instead.

"3. Cultivate friendly relations with your husband's relatives.

"4. Avoid jealousy. If your husband offends, remonstrate with him gently, without hate or anger.

"5. Generally, when your husband does wrong, it is your duty to remonstrate with him gently and affectionately.

"6. Be of few words. Avoid abusive language and falsehood.

"7. Be always circumspect in your behaviour. Get up early. Go to bed at midnight. Do not indulge in a siesta. Attend diligently to the work of the house. Do not become addicted to saké or tea. Avoid listening to lewd songs or music. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples being public resorts for pleasure, should be sparingly visited before the age of forty.

"8. Have nothing to do with fortune-tellers or mediums, and do not offend the gods and Buddha by too familiar importunities. Attend to your human duties, and do not let your heart run astray after invisible supernatural beings.

"9. Economy in domestic matters is all-important.

"10. Keep young men at a distance. On no account have any written correspondence with them. Male domestics should not be allowed to enter the women's apartments.

"11. Avoid conspicuous colours and patterns in your dress. Choose those suitable for a somewhat older person than yourself.

"12. In everything your husband and his parents should come before your own parents.

"13. Do not attend to the tattle of female servants."

This is commonplace enough. But Yekken could rise to higher flights on occasion, as the following extract from a treatise on the philosophy of pleasure (Raku-kun) will show. The sentiment is of a distinctly Wordsworthian quality.

"If we make inward pleasures our chief aim, and use the ears and eyes simply as the means of procuring such delights from without, we shall not be molested by the lusts of these senses. If we open our hearts to the beauty of heaven, earth, and the ten thousand created things, they will yield us pleasure without limit, pleasure always before our eyes, night and morning, full and overflowing. The man who takes delight in such things becomes the owner of the mountains and streams, of the moon and flowers, and needs not to pay his court to others in order to enjoy them. They are not bought with treasure. Without the expenditure of a single cash he may use them to his heart's content, and yet never exhaust them. And although he enjoys possession of them as his own, no man will wrangle with him in order to deprive him of them. The reason is that the beauty of mountain and river, moon and flowers, has from the beginning no fixed owner.

"He who knows the boundless sources of delight which are thus contained in the universe, and who finds his enjoyment therein, envies not the luxurious pleasures of the rich and great; for such enjoyments are beyond those of wealth and honours. He who is unconscious of them cannot enjoy the delectable things in the greatest abundance which are every day before his eyes.

"Vulgar pleasures, even before they pass, become a torment to the body. If, for example, carried away by desire, we eat and drink our fill of dainty things, it is pleasant at first, but disease and suffering soon follow. In general, vulgar pleasures corrupt the heart, injure the constitution, and end in misery. The pleasures of the man of worth, on the other hand, nourish the heart and do not entice us astray. To speak in terms of outward things, the pleasures which we derive from the love of the moon or of flowers, from gazing on the hills and streams, from humming to the wind or following the flight of birds with envy, are of a mild nature. We may take delight in them all day long and do ourselves no harm. Man will not blame us, nor God remonstrate with us for indulgence in it. It is easy to be attained, even by the poor and needy, and has no ill consequences. The rich and great, absorbed in luxury and indolence, know not these pleasures; but the poor man, little affected by such hindrances, may readily procure them if he only chooses to do so."

On Gardening

"When you move into a house your first care ought to be to plant fruit-trees. Others may come after. Forethought for ten years consists in planting trees. In planting, fruit should come first, flowers should be your next care, and foliage last of all. Fruit is of the greatest use to man; and fruit-trees should be planted in large numbers, particularly the orange and the lime. When their fruit has formed and ripened, it is not inferior in beauty to flowers. In planting persimmons, pears, chestnuts, and pepper, the best sorts should be selected. For flowering trees, the ordinary plum should come first. The red-blossomed plum is also good, and the cherry. It is a pity it sheds its flowers so soon. The camellia remains long in bloom, and its leaves are beautiful. It grows readily from cuttings, and blossoms early. The kaidō [Pyrus spectabilis], and azaleas of different kinds, are also to be commended. For foliage-trees, choose the cryptomeria, the Thuya obtusa, the podocarpus, and evergreen-trees generally. Bamboos should be planted on the northern side, as a protection against fire and wind. They may be cut down from time to time, and put away for use on occasion. In the front garden plant willows, cherry-trees, firs, and cryptomerias. Avoid planting too thickly; it makes too much moisture, and in summer harbours mosquitoes, which are a plague.

"Vegetables may be planted for everyday use. They are fresher when grown at home than if bought in the market. Besides, the luxuriance of their leaves delights the eye not less than the beauty of flowers.

"Moreover it tends to edify the heart if we plant trees and herbs in our gardens and love them. In our leisure moments we should pay some attention to looking for things easy to get, just as they may turn up, and planting them. If we strive after procuring things hard to come at, and either beg them unconscionably of our friends, or buy them at a high price, we get proud of the number of kinds we have collected, or of the superiority of the flowers. This leads to rivalry in the goodness of the flowers. Trouble ensues, and heart-burnings, which are injurious to self-discipline, yield no pleasure, and cause nothing but anxiety."

Yekken was also a poet. The following Tanka was composed by him when he felt death approaching:—

"The past
Seems to me
Like a single night:
Ah! the dream
Of more than eighty years!"

The most distinguished of the Kangakusha was undoubtedly Arai Hakuseki. He was born in Yedo in 1657, his father being in the service of Lord Tsuchiya, a small Daimio of the province of Kadzusa. Hakuseki has fortunately left an autobiography, a very rare kind of literature in Japan, and we have therefore much fuller information regarding his life than is usual in the case of Japanese authors. It was written not for publication (the copy before me is in manuscript), but for the information of his own descendants, so that they might not have the dissatisfaction he himself had experienced of knowing little about their ancestors. This autobiography was written in 1716, after Hakuseki had retired from public life. It is entitled Ori-taku-shiba ("Burning Faggots"), in allusion to a poem of the Emperor Go Toba which speaks of the smoke of faggots at evening bringing back the memory (of a departed dear one who had been cremated?). The early part of this work is taken up with an account of "the man who was his father," to use Hakuseki's curious phrase, a metsuke[2] or inspector of the Daimio's Yedo mansion. In him he has given a minute and loving description of a Japanese gentleman of the olden time. I transcribe a few sentences:—

"Ever since I came to understand the heart of things, my memory is that the daily routine of his life was always exactly the same. He never failed to get up an hour before daybreak. He then had a cold bath, and did his hair himself. In cold weather, the woman who was my mother would propose to order hot water for him, but this he would not allow, as he wished to avoid giving the servants trouble. When he was over seventy, and my mother also was advanced in years, sometimes when the cold was unendurable, a lighted brazier was brought in, and they lay down to sleep with their feet against it. Beside the fire there was placed a kettle with hot water, which my father drank when he got up. Both of them honoured the Way of Buddha. My father, when he had arranged his hair and adjusted his clothing, never neglected to make obeisance to Buddha. On the anniversaries of his father's and mother's death he and my mother prepared the rice for the offerings. This duty was never entrusted to servants. After he was dressed he waited quietly till dawn, and then went out to his official duty."

·······

"Since I remember, there were but few black hairs on his head. He had a square-shaped face with a high forehead. His eyes were large, he had a thick growth of beard, and was short of stature. He was, however, a big-boned, powerful man. He was never known to betray anger, nor do I remember that even when he laughed he ever gave way to boisterous mirth. Much less did he ever descend to violent language when he had occasion to reprimand any one. In his conversation he used as few words as possible. His demeanour was grave. I have never seen him startled, flurried, or impatient. When he applied the moxa,[3] he used to say there was no use in small and few applications, and would put on five or seven great patches at the same time without showing any sign of suffering. The room he usually occupied he kept cleanly swept, had an old picture hung on the wall, and a few flowers which were in season set out in a vase. He would spend the day looking at them. He painted a little in black and white, not being fond of colours. When in good health he never troubled a servant, but did everything for himself."

As a boy Hakuseki gave many proofs of precocious intelligence. Before he was three years of age he copied out some Chinese characters in a recognisable manner. His Daimio noticed him and kept him constantly about his own person.

"In the autumn of my eighth year, Tobe [his Daimio] went to the province of Kadzusa, leaving instructions that I was to be taught writing. In the middle of the twelfth month of the winter of that year he returned, and I resumed my usual attendance on him. In the autumn of the next year, when he went again to his province, he set me a task, ordering me to write out every day in the day-time three thousand Chinese characters in the round or cursive script, and at night one thousand. When winter came on and the days became shorter, it frequently happened that the sun approached his setting before my task was finished. I would then take my desk out to a bamboo veranda which faced the west, and finish it there. Moreover, as I sometimes got intolerably sleepy over my nightly task, I arranged with the man who was told off to serve me to put two buckets of water on the aforesaid veranda. When I became very drowsy I took off my coat and poured one of the buckets of water over me. I then resumed my clothing and went on writing. The cold produced in this way for a while answered the purpose of keeping me awake. But after a time I became warm again, and the drowsiness came back, when I poured water over myself as before. With two applications of this kind I was able to get through most of my work. This was in the autumn and winter of my ninth year. . . . From my thirteenth year Tobe used me to conduct most of his correspondence."

Hakuseki was an ambitious youth, as the following saying of his shows: "If, alive, a man cannot become a Daimio, better die and be a king of Hades." In this spirit he refused an eligible offer of marriage to the daughter of a wealthy merchant, although both he and his father, who had retired on a small pension, were in great poverty. In 1682 he entered the service of Hotta, the Daimio of Furukawa, with whom he remained ten years. When he left him Hakuseki was almost destitute. His only property was a box containing three hundred cash, and three measures of rice (a week's supply). His teacher, Kinoshita Junan, of whom he always speaks with the greatest reverence, tried to procure him an appointment with the Daimio of Kaga; but Hakuseki, being appealed to by a friend who had an aged mother in that province dependent on him for support, begged Junan to use his influence for him instead. Hakuseki had no favourable opportunity of advancement until 1693, when he was thirty-six years of age. On the recommendation of Junan, he was then engaged as Professor of Chinese by Iyenobu, subsequently (1709–1713) Shōgun, but at this time Daimio of Kōfu.

His relations with Iyenobu were throughout of the most cordial nature. He was always receiving from him presents of clothing and money. When Hakuseki lectured on the Chinese classics, Iyenobu listened with the greatest respect, refraining in summer from brushing off a mosquito, and in winter, when he had a cold in his head, turning away from the lecturer before wiping his nose with the paper of which he kept a supply in his sleeve. "You may imagine," says Hakuseki, addressing his posterity in the Ori-taku-shiba, "how quiet the rest of the audience were."

In 1701, by command of Iyenobu, Hakuseki composed his greatest work, the Hankampu, a history of the Daimios of Japan from 1600 to 1680. It is in thirty volumes and must have required immense research, yet it was written in a few months. Having received the order in the first month, he began the draft on the eleventh day of the seventh month. The manuscript was completed in the eleventh month, and a fair copy was made by Hakuseki himself and laid before Iyenobu on the nineteenth day of the second month of the following year. Hakuseki mentions these details with obvious pride in his autobiography. They are very characteristic of the extreme rapidity of composition of Japanese authors during this period. They expended no superfluous labour of the file upon their works. Yet the Hankampu cannot be called a carelessly written book. Not only does it contain most valuable material for the future historian of Japan, but the style is highly commended by the best native critics for its combined elegance and vigour, neither leaning too much to Chinese pedantry on the one hand, nor to Japanese purism on the other. So far as a "Western barbarian" may be allowed an opinion, this praise is not undeserved, though it is perhaps unnecessary to endorse the language of a native admirer who declares that "Hakuseki's heart is brocade, his bowels are rich embroidery, his spittle produces pearls, and his half-conscious mutterings form harmonious music." The Hankampu contains much genealogical and other matter which has little interest for the European reader. Even Hakuseki's countrymen at the present day will probably admit that there is more than enough of this element. Although one of the most important works of the Yedo period, I doubt whether it has been printed. The Shōguns' government was much given to cachotterie in matters of state, and very many of the most interesting political works of this period were only circulated privately among the official class. Two copies in my possession are both in manuscript, the form in which Hakuseki's works are usually met with. In the case of the Hankampu there were probably substantial reasons for refraining from publication. It was hardly possible, especially for a man of Hakuseki's fearless and uncompromising nature, to relate without offence the history of three hundred and thirty-seven noble houses down to twenty years before the time of writing.

The following extract will give some idea of the scope and character of this work:—


Itakura Shigehide as a Judge of Criminal Cases

"It is impossible fully to set forth here the reputation of this man while he remained in office, or his fame throughout the Empire. I shall only take one principal instance.

"From the time that he received his appointment, he was in the habit, when on his way to the tribunal and before taking his place there, to pay distant worship in a corridor which faced the west. Here a tea-mill[4] was placed, and the paper slides being drawn, Shigehide seated himself behind them and heard the cases while grinding the tea with his own hand. Everybody wondered at this conduct, but no one dared to question him. Many years afterwards he was asked the reason, and replied: 'Well, the reason why I worshipped afar in a corridor which faced the west before taking my place in the tribunal was this: I was worshipping the gods of Atago. I was told that among all the many gods these were the most efficacious, and I offered a prayer to them when I thus worshipped. I said in my prayer: "In deciding the cases which are brought before Shigehide this day, may there be nothing to which his heart is unequal. If he errs and allows selfish motives to influence him, may the gods be pleased that same moment to take away his life." And I adjured them daily, in virtue of my profound trust in them for years, not to let me live if self should get the better of me.

" 'Another thing which I thought to interfere with clearness of judgment is the emotion of the heart. A really good man will not allow such emotion to arise. Shigehide [himself], however, could not reach this perfection. So in order to test my heart and ascertain whether it was calm or perturbed, the only expedient I could think of was to grind tea. When my heart was steady and calm, my hand was accordant with it. The mill then went round smoothly, and the powdered tea which fell from it was beautifully fine. I knew when the tea fell down in a fine powder that my heart was free from emotion. Not till then did I pronounce judgment.

" 'The reason why I heard cases with a paper screen interposed was this: Taking men in general, a glance at their faces shows that some are ill-favoured and others prepossessing; some are honest-looking, others knavish. There are many such varieties—more than I can tell. On looking at them we are apt to conclude that the honest-looking man's evidence is true, and that the actions of the knavish-looking fellow are all false, though they may be straightforward enough. We think that the plaint of the man of prepossessing appearance shows that he has been wronged, and that the contention of the ill-favoured man is erroneous. In all these cases the heart is moved by what we see with our eyes. Even before the witnesses utter a word, we say in our hearts, "Such a one is a knave, such a one is right, such a one is straightforward," so that when we come to hear the evidence we are apt to wrest it to our preconceived ideas. But very frequently it is seen during the trial that among prepossessing countenances some belong to men who are truly detestable, and that of ill-favoured men some are deserving of sympathy. Among the honest-looking there are knaves, and true men among the knavish-looking. Men's hearts are hard to know, and the plan of judging of them by their looks will not answer. . . . Even for those against whom there is no charge, it must be a terrible thing to appear in a court of justice. Some there are who, when they see before them the man in whose hands are life and death, are bewildered and cast down to such a degree as to be unable to plead what they might in their defence. When I reflected on this I felt that it was after all better that the judge and the prisoner should not see one another face to face. This was my reason for taking my seat with a screen interposed.' "


Next to the Hankampu, Hakuseki's most important work is the Tokushi Yoron, which was written by order of Iyenobu in 1712. It gives for the first time a general view of Japanese history for two thousand years, dwelling more particularly on periods of change and revolution, and showing the connection of events in a way which had never been previously attempted. Its historical value is considerable, but the style is not considered equal to that of his earlier work.

Iyenobu became Shōgun in 1709. From this time forward Hakuseki, although holding no definite position in the government, was his constant adviser in state affairs. His influence was given on the side of common-sense and justice. One of the first matters he was concerned in was a currency question. To meet the expenses of the installation of the new Shōgun, the Minister of Finance, Hagiwara Shigehide, proposed various schemes involving the debasing of the currency. These were vigorously opposed by Hakuseki, and with complete success, Hagiwara being deprived of office, and the currency at length (in 1714) placed on a solid foundation. A more doubtful financial measure taken by his advice restricted the export of gold and silver, and limited the number of vessels engaged in foreign commerce.

Throughout Iyenobu's reign Hakuseki was the acknowledged authority on financial matters. In 1741 an embassy arrived from Corea. He was charged with the negotiations, and acquitted himself with great credit. At this time he received the title of Chikugo no Kami, and a grant of 500 kokus of rice annually. His strong interest in foreign affairs is evidenced by a little work called Gojiryaku, a collection of memoranda (still in manuscript) on Loochoo, the forms of diplomatic intercourse, the movement of specie, &c.

To us Europeans the most interesting episode in Hakuseki's life is his relations with an unfortunate Italian missionary, Father Sidotti, who landed alone in the province of Satsuma in 1708, with some wild hope of being allowed to preach the Christian religion in Japan. He was at once arrested, and ultimately sent to Yedo, where, after some time had elapsed, he was handed over to Hakuseki for examination.

In the Seiyō Kibun ("Notes of the Western Ocean"), Hakuseki has given a history of this affair, to which he has appended such information regarding the geography and history of European countries as he was able to extract from this unhappy man. Owing chiefly to difficulties of interpretation, it is meagre in the extreme, but yet interesting as the first attempt of a Japanese writer to give an account of Europe.

Sidotti produced in Hakuseki that mixed feeling of perplexity and irritation which contact with a profound religious faith so often excites in thinkers of the positive type. The devotion to his sovereign and religious chief (for so Hakuseki thought it) which prompted him at the Pope's command to journey to so distant a country, and there for six years to undergo peril and suffering, appealed strongly to a man who had himself a stern sense of duty. Hakuseki reported to his Government that it was impossible to witness without emotion Sidotti's firm adherence to his own faith, and he also spoke with warm appreciation of his kindly disposition and scientific knowledge. "But," said he, "when this man begins to speak of religion his talk is shallow and scarce a word is intelligible. All of a sudden folly takes the place of wisdom. It is like listening to the talk of two different men."

The "folly" which Hakuseki had more particularly in view was an outline of Bible history and Christian doctrine which Sidotti had dictated to him in the fulness of his heart. In its Japanese form it is a dry and soulless husk, which affords some excuse for Hakuseki's obtuseness to its spiritual import. It should be a warning to missionaries not to attempt the teaching of religion until they have something more than a tyro's command of the language. As Hakuseki's attitude towards Christianity is essentially that of educated Japanese at the present day, I may quote some of his observations.

"The foreign word 'Deus,' which the Western man used in his discourse, is equivalent to 'Creator,' and means simply a Being who first made heaven and earth and the ten thousand things. He argued that the universe did not come into existence of itself. 'It must,' he said, 'have had a maker.' But if this were so, then who made Deus? How could he be born while there was yet no heaven or earth? And if Deus could come into existence of himself, why should not heaven and earth do so likewise? Again, there is the doctrine, that before the world existed, there was a heavenly paradise made for good men. I cannot understand how men could have any knowledge of good and evil while there was yet no heaven and earth. It is unnecessary to discuss all his notions about the beginning of the world and of mankind, of paradise and of hell, as they are all derived from Buddhism.

"What will be thought of the idea that Deus, pitying the heinous criminals who had broken the heavenly commands, and who of themselves could not give satisfaction, was three thousand years after, for their sakes, born as Jesus, and in their stead redeemed their guilt? This sounds very childish. At the present time, the judge who is charged with the infliction of punishment may yet take a merciful view of the circumstances and grant pardon or mitigation. And in the case even of the heavenly commands, what was there to prevent Deus from pardoning an offence against them, or mitigating the punishment, more especially as he himself was the author of the prohibition which was broken."

Hakuseki discusses Noah's flood in the same spirit. The Ten Commandments, he thinks, were borrowed mainly from Buddhism, as well as the miraculous occurrences connected with the birth of Christ, and His styling Himself "Deus." The rite of baptism he refers to the same source.

The result of Hakuseki's examination was a report, in which he pointed out that the Shōgun's Government had three courses open to them: first, to send Sidotti back to his own country; second, to retain him in imprisonment; and third, to put him to death as prescribed by law. He gave his own voice strongly in favour of the first course, but the second was the one actually adopted. Sidotti died in prison not long after.[5]

On the death of his patron in 1713, Hakuseki wished) to retire from public life. But it was pointed out to him that his help was required to carry out certain measures already contemplated by the late Shōgun. He therefore consented, from public motives, to continue his counsels. Iyenobu was succeeded by his son Iyetsugu, then four years of age. A momentous question now arose which convulsed official circles in Yedo for some time. Was a child of such tender years bound to wear mourning for his father or not? Hayashi Shuntai, the hereditary official representative of Chinese learning at the Shōgun's court, declared for the negative. But he was no match for Hakuseki, who maintained the affirmative proposition, and fairly crushed his opponent under a weight of learning and argument which seems to us rather disproportionate to the occasion. In his autobiography Hakuseki tells the story of Shuntai's discomfiture with great triumph.

At Iyetsugu's death in 1716, the reins of power passed into other hands. Hakuseki was no longer consulted, and spent the remainder of his days as a recluse among his dearly loved books. He died in 1725 in his sixty-ninth year. His life shows that in Japan at this time a career was open for talent. He owed little to any one but himself. It was sheer worth, force of intellect, and a self-reliant, uncompromising character which raised him to the unique position of influence which he held.

His works, inclusive of state papers and reports to his Government, number over three hundred. In addition to those already mentioned, there may be named Yezodan Hikki (in MS.), which treats of the productions of Yezo, the Yezo language, and the Aino revolt of 1669; Nantōshi, a geographical work on Loochoo; Keizai Tenkei, or "Principles of Finance"; Kwahei Kō, a work on the currency; Gunki Kō, on arms; Kishin Ron, a book on the nature of the gods; Gwakō Benran, a work on painting; Ketsugoku Kō, on knotty points of criminal law; Dōbun Tsūkō, on the various forms of script used in Japan; Shuko Dzusetsu, an antiquarian work; Tōga, a dictionary of Japanese words in twenty books; and Sairan Igen, an expansion of the historical and geographical part of the Seiyō Kibun.


Muro Kiusō was born at Yanaka, in the province of Musashi (not far from Yedo), in 1658. He was distinguished from his earliest years by a love of learning. When only thirteen he was taken into the service of the Daimio of Kaga, who was so much struck by his precocious talent that he sent him to Kiōto to study under the famous Kinoshita Junan.

In 1711, on the recommendation of his friend and fellow-pupil Hakuseki, Kiusō received a Government appointment in Yedo as Professor of Chinese. In 1713 he took up his residence in a house at Surugadai, a lofty platform which overlooks Yedo from the north, near the spot where a Christian church now stands, conspicuous to the whole city. Here he spent the remainder of his days. When Hakuseki retired from public life, Kiusō to some extent took his place as adviser to the Shōgunate. The Shōgun Yoshimune (1716–1751) esteemed him highly and consulted him continually. Kiusō died in 1734 in his seventy-seventh year.

Kiusō is best remembered by his Shundai Zatsuwa (1729),[6] a work of his old age. The title means "Miscellaneous Talk on Surugadai." It consists of notes taken of the discourses which he delivered in answer to "those who believed in the Old Man and came to him with questions," and covers a wide variety of subjects. It contains unsparing denunciations of Buddhism, superstition, and heresy from the faith as it is in Chu-Hi; pantheistic philosophy, metaphysics, politics, lectures on the arts of war and poetry, literary criticisms, and so on. Kiusō propounds to the world no original ideas on these subjects. His philosophy is simply that of Chu-Hi in a Japanese garb. But in him, as in Hakuseki, the inner spirit and temper of mind which it fostered in Japan is seen at its best. Some Christian ideals are wanting. Forgiveness of one's enemies is not to be found there, nor is a chivalrous consideration for the weak and for women very conspicuous. But a noble enthusiasm for lofty ideals and high achievements with a scorn of meanness and duplicity pervades all the utterances of this Socrates of Surugadai. Loyalty to friends, devotion to duty, and a high-souled contempt for cowardice, dishonesty, and self-seeking, are their unfailing characteristics.

Kiusō, like the other seventeenth and eighteenth century expounders of Chinese philosophy, had a supreme contempt for Buddhism. The Kangakusha's ideal of life was essentially different. To the Buddhist the spiritual life is all-important. For its sake men should wean themselves from the things of this world, sever all family ties, and retire to hermitages or monasteries, there to spend pure and holy lives in pious meditation and religious observances. The Chinese philosophy, on the contrary, is eminently practical. It may be summed up in one word—duty. The various relations of human life being ordained by Heaven, it is man's business not to evade the obligations thus imposed on him, as the Buddhists would have him do, but to fulfil them faithfully at all costs.

Japan owes a profound debt of gratitude to the Kangakusha of this time. For their day and country they were emphatically the salt of the earth, and their writings must have helped materially to counteract the pernicious influence of a very different class of literature which now began to deluge the country, the pornographic writings of Jishō and his school.

Kiusō's style is unequal to his matter. He is frequently obscure, and is somewhat too fond of learned allusions to Chinese history and literature. In both respects he contrasts with his predecessor Yekken, and even with Hakuseki, though the latter could be erudite enough upon occasion. But his learning was probably not misplaced considering the audience whom he was addressing, while his obscurity seems due to the fact that he moved in an intellectual sphere so far above his contemporaries that he found the Japanese language of his time an inadequate vehicle to convey his thoughts.

The following extract from the Shundai Zatsuwa will give some idea of Kiusō's philosophic vein:—

The Morning-glory (or Convolvulus)

"'Oh for the heart
Of the morning-glory!
Which, though its bloom is for a single hour,
Is the same as that of the fir-tree
Which lives a thousand years.'Matsunaga.

"To my mind there is a profound meaning in this verse. Many poems, some of ancient date, have been composed on the morning-glory, for the most part alluding to its short-lived bloom, and associating it with the melancholy sentiment of autumn. It is thus made an emblem of this transitory world. Such verses have no deeper meaning. The lines of Haku Kyo-i [in Chinese, Peh Kü-yih]—

'After a thousand years at last the fir decays:
The hibiscus-flower glories in its one day's life'—

have the stamp of official approval, and are reckoned elegant. But there is here a forced endeavour to make glory and decay the same, and to assimilate robust life with early death. This may sound fine in the ears of the vulgar, but it is after all a very superficial view. Such ideas go no further than to reproduce the drivel of Gautama [Buddha], or to lick the spittle of Chwang-chow [a Taoist philosopher]. This cannot be the meaning of Matsunaga's 'heart differing not from that of the fir-tree.' What do you say, gentlemen? To this old man's mind it says, 'He that in the morning has found the Way may die content at night.' To blossom in the early morn, to await the sun's rays and then to fade, is the nature which the morning-glory has received from heaven. There are in the world fir-trees which live a thousand years, but the morning-glory, though endowed with so brief a span of existence, never forgets itself for a moment or is envious of others. Morning after morning the flowers unfold, enchantingly beautiful; and having exhausted that natural virtue which has been allotted to them, they wither. Herein they show their faithfulness to duty. Why should it be regarded as vain and unprofitable? The fir does just the same, but the morning-glory, being short-lived, illustrates this principle in a more striking manner. Not that in the mind of the fir-tree there is any idea of a thousand years, or in that of the morning-glory the thought of a single day. Each simply fulfils its allotted nature. The view of the thousand years of the fir-tree as robust vigour, and of the one day of the morning-glory as vain and transitory, belongs simply to the man who looks on them from without. It is absurd to suppose that in the mind of the fir-tree or convolvulus there is any such thought.

"All things without sense are the same. But man, endowed with feeling, and described as the soul of the universe, becomes entangled by his own craftiness, and so long as he does not learn the Way, falls short of this perfection. This is why it is necessary for him to learn the Way. To learn the Way must not be taken to be anything of a special kind, such as the spiritual vision of the Buddhists or the like. The Way is the original right principle of things. It is something which vulgar men and women know and practise as well as others. But as they do not truly know it, they do not thoroughly practise it. They learn it, but do not fully comprehend it; they practise it, but not with conspicuous success. They may go on striving to the end of their days, but they will never enter into its full meaning. Now to learn the Way is nothing more than to acquire a true knowledge of this principle, and to practise it effectively until you have the restful feeling of a fish in water, and take the same pleasure in it that a bird does in the groves. It should be made one's very life at all times, never being departed from for a moment. If, so long as we live, we follow the Way, when we die these bodies of ours and the Way come to an end together, and a long peace ensues. Living for a day, let us fulfil the Way for that day and die; living for a month, let us fulfil the Way for that month and die; living for a year, let us fulfil the Way for that year and die. If we do so, there will be left not an atom of regret, even if we die in the evening after having learnt the Way in the morning.

"Looking at the matter in this light, why should the morning-glory resent that it must fade when the sun's rays fall upon it? Though its life is but for a day, it has bloomed to the full extent of its endowment, and there is nothing left. It is widely different from the thousand years of the fir-tree in length of time, but they are both alike in that they exhaust the command of Heaven [fulfil their destiny] and are satisfied. This is what is meant by the expression 'a heart differing not from that of the fir-tree.' Doubtless Matsunaga wished that his heart should become even like it, and therefore wrote this poem of the morning-glory."


In the following passage, which contains echoes of Taoist doctrines, Kiusō approaches very nearly to the idea of a personal Deity:—

"The Saden [an ancient Chinese book] says, 'God[7] is uniformly intelligent and just.' It is his very nature to be so. Now while all men know that he is just, they do not know that he is intelligent. Yet there is nothing of so keen an intelligence as God. How is this? Man hears with his ears, and beyond their reach he hears nothing though he were as quick of hearing as Shikō; he sees with his eyes, and beyond their range he can see nothing, were he as sharp-sighted as Rirō; with his heart he reflects, and, however swift his intuitions may be, still this must involve delay. God borrows not the help of ears or eyes; nor does he waste time in reflection. With him sensation is immediate, and is followed by immediate responsive action. This, be it observed, is his nature, and flows not from two or three, but from a single reality.

"But although there is in heaven and earth a something infinitely quick of hearing and infinitely sharp of sight, independent of conditions of time or space, present as if actually on the spot, passing to and fro without any interval, embodying itself in all things which are, and filling the universe, it has neither form nor voice, and is therefore not cognisable by our senses. It is, however, sensible to the Real and the True. As it feels, so it responds. If there is no truth or reality, there can be no response. If it did not feel, it would not respond. The response is therefore a proof of its existence. That which responds not, of course does not exist. What a wonderful property for heaven and earth to possess!

"In the words of a stanza composed by priest Saigiō when he made a pilgrimage to the shrines of Ise—

'What it is
That dwelleth here
I know not;
Yet my heart is full of gratitude,
And the tears trickle down.' "

"Think not that God is something distant, but seek for him in your own hearts; for the heart is the abode of God."

"To forsake all evil and follow good is the beginning of the practice of our philosophy."

"The Way of the Sages is not sundered from matters of everyday life."

"That which in Heaven begets all things is in man that which makes him love his neighbour. So doubt not that Heaven loves goodness of heart and hates its opposite."

"Has not bravery itself its root in goodness of heart, and does it not proceed from sympathy? It is only when it arises from goodness that bravery is genuine."

"Once when I was in Kaga I heard a man say, 'All faults whether great or small may be excused in the eyes of the world upon repentance and amendment, and leave behind no stain of deep-seated baseness. But there are two faults which are inexcusable, even when repented of—theft, and the abandonment by a Samurai of a post which he is bound to defend with his life."

"Avarice and cowardice are the same. If a man is stingy of his money, he will also grudge his life."

"To the Samurai first of all comes righteousness, next life, then silver and gold."

Kiusō's righteousness and our righteousness are appreciably though not essentially different. The former approaches the Roman ideal more than the Christian. He uses the word to describe the conduct of the forty-seven Rōnins, who, having avenged an insult to their master which led to his death, by the murder of the offender, then committed hara-kiri together. This incident occurred in Kiuso's own lifetime. He consecrated their memory in a booklet in the Chinese language entitled Gi-jin-roku, which, although not in itself a very important contribution to history, has been the parent of a whole literature. A later writer gives a list of one hundred and one works relating to this subject, including fiction and the drama. Mr. Mitford has told the story in his Tales of Old Japan. It is highly characteristic of the Yedo period of Japanese history.

It is not creditable to the Japanese Government of this time, that although Kiusō presented the Shundai Zatsuwa to his patron the Shōgun in 1729, it was allowed to remain unpublished until 1750, although all the while a flood of pornographic literature was being poured out over the country without let or hindrance.

The modern literary language of Japan owes much to the Kangakusha, more especially to those of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The older Japanese of the Taiheiki was wholly inadequate for the expression of the host of new ideas which were the offspring of the revival of learning and the reorganisation of the State. The social changes and the marked advance in civilisation and the arts which accompanied this movement required a new vocabulary. Just as we resorted to Latin and Greek to meet a similar want, the Kangakusha enriched their language by the adoption of large numbers of Chinese words. This process was carried to great excess in later times. But writers like Hakuseki and Kiusō were no pedants. They were practical men who were accustomed to use their pens for practical purposes, and who wrote to make themselves understood, not to display their cleverness or learning. In their hands the Japanese language not only gained much in fulness of vocabulary, but acquired a clearness and directness unattainable with the more cumbrous forms of the older language. Needless to say, pillow-words, pivot-words, and all such frivolous excrescences of style were utterly disdained by them.


  1. Literally "belly-cut," a term which some English wag has thought fit to render by "happy despatch."
  2. This is the word usually rendered "spy."
  3. A kind of tinder, applied to the skin in small patches and then burnt, as a remedy for various ailments.
  4. A small hand-mill of stone used for reducing tea to powder before making the infusion. The whole is then drunk—leaves and all.
  5. The principal part of the Seiyō Kibun, from which the above particulars are taken, has been translated by the Rev. W. B. Wright, in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, August 1881.
  6. Partly translated by Dr. Knox in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 1892. But a more complete and accurate translation is desirable.
  7. Or "the Gods." The Chinese and Japanese languages rarely distinguish between singular and plural. The concluding part of this extract, however, shows that Kiusō was thinking of a single Deity.