free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And care should be taken that Tsunayoshi


The third shogun, Iemitsu, addressing the mother of his son, Tsimayoshi, is said to have expressed profound regret that his own education had been confined to military science. "That is to me," he is reported to have said, "a source of perpetual sorrow, and care should be taken that Tsunayoshi, who seems to be a clever lad, should receive full instruction in literature." In compliance with this advice, steps were taken to interest Tsunayoshi in letters, and he became so attached to this class of study that even when sick he found solace in his books. The doctrines of Confucius attracted him above all other systems of ethics. He fell into the habit of delivering lectures on the classics, and to show his reverence for the Chinese sages, he made it a rule to wear full dress on these occasions, and to worship after the manner of all Confucianists. It has already been related that a shrine of Confucius was built in Ueno Park by the Tokugawa daimyo of Owari, and that the third shogun, Iemitsu, visited this shrine in 1633 to offer prayer. Fifty years later, the fifth shogun, Tsunayoshi, followed that example, and also listened to lectures on the classics by Hayashi Nobuatsu. Subsequently (1691), a new shrine was erected at Yushima in the Kongo district of Yedo, and was endowed with an estate of one thousand koku to meet the expenses of the spring and autumn festivals. Further, the daimyo were required to contribute for the erection of a school in the vicinity of the shrine. At this school youths of ability, selected from among the sons of the Bakufu officials and of the daimyo, were educated, the doctrines of Confucius being thus rendered more and more popular.

Under Tsunayoshi's auspices, also, many books were published which remain to this day standard works of their kind. Another step taken by the shogun was to obtain from the Court in Kyoto the rank of junior fifth class for Hayashi Nobuatsu, the great Confucian scholar, who was also nominated minister of Education and chief instructor at Kongo College. Up to that time it had been the habit of Confucianists and of medical men to shave their heads and use titles corresponding to those of Buddhist priests. In these circumstances neither Confucianists nor physicians could be treated as samurai, and they were thus excluded from all State honours. The distinction conferred upon Hayashi Nobuatsu by the Imperial Court effectually changed these conditions. The Confucianists ceased to shave their heads and became eligible for official posts. Thereafter, ten of Hayashi's disciples were nominated among the shogun's retainers, and were required to deliver lectures periodically at the court of the Bakufu. In short, in whatever related to learning, Tsunayoshi stands easily at the head of all the Tokugawa shoguns.


A noteworthy incident of Tsunayoshi's administration was a change of calendar, effected in the year 1683. The credit of this achievement belongs to a mathematician called Shibukawa Shunkai. A profound student, his researches had convinced him that the Hsuan-ming calendar, borrowed originally from China and used in Japan ever since the year A.D. 861, was defective. He pointed out some of its errors in a memorial addressed to the Bakufu under the sway of the fourth shogun, but the then prime minister, Sakai Tadakiyo, paid no attention to the document. Shunkai, however, did not desist. In 1683, an eclipse of the moon took place, and he demonstrated that it was erroneously calculated in the Chinese calendar. The fifth shogun, Tsunayoshi, was then in power, and the era of his reforming spirit had not yet passed away. He adopted Shunkai's suggestion and obtained the Imperial sanction for a change of calendar so that the Husan-ming system went out of force after 822 years of use in Japan.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us