This article first reviews the political, economic, and cultural context within which Japanese during the Tokugawa era (1600–1866) mastered Kanbun 漢文 as their elite lingua franca. Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges were based on prestigious classical Chinese texts imported from Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) China via the controlled Ningbo-Nagasaki trade and Kanbun texts sent in the other direction, from Japan back to China. The role of Japanese Kanbun teachers in presenting language textbooks for instruction and the larger Japanese adaptation of Chinese studies in the eighteenth century is then contextualized within a new, socio-cultural framework to understand the local, regional, and urban role of the Confucian teacher–scholar in a rapidly changing Tokugawa society. The concluding part of the article is based on new research using rare Kanbun medical materials in the Fujikawa Bunko 富士川文庫 at Kyoto University, which show how some increasingly iconoclastic Japanese scholar–physicians (known as the Goiha 古醫派) appropriated the late Ming and early Qing revival of interest in ancient Chinese medicine rather than continue to follow more recent Song-Jin-Yuan 宋金元 medical practices (Goseiha 後世派) based on Song interpretations of the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經 (Yellow Emperor's inner classic). This group favored ancient treatment formulae and empirically based diagnoses, which drew on the Shanghan lun 傷寒論 (Treatise of Cold Damage Disorders) as a medical text and Zhang Zhongjing 張仲景 as a pioneering physician. Although many Japanese physicians favored Western medicine (transmitted via Dutch Learning 蘭學) over Chinese medicine in the mid-nineteenth century, most in the mid- and late-eighteenth century focused on mastering classical Chinese, and then Ming and Qing medical books entering Nagasaki from China. These new, critical currents of Chinese medicine in Japan provided the impetus later for growing Japanese interest in Dutch Learning and modern Western medicine.
In the stability and peace of the eighteenth century, Qing 清 China (1644–1911) and Tokugawa 德川 Japan (1600–1866) almost recognized each other as equal countries. Instead of tributary terms, the Japanese called China and Japan kuni 邦 (C. bang). Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations in this period, Qing China and Tokugawa Japan observed each other from afar and interacted realistically. In this period, for example, the Tokugawa ignored the Ming and Qing claim to be the “Middle Kingdom” 中國 by referring to China instead as a “kuni 邦” called “Chūka” 中華 (C. Zhonghua), “ihō” 異邦 (lit., “that different country,” C. yibang), Seito 西土 (C. Xitu, “the country to the west”), or Shina 支那 (C. Zhina).1
After Manchu troops invaded Korea in 1627 and 1637, they then captured Ming China's capital in Beijing in 1644. The Tokugawa now faced an empire in East Asia that might threaten their home islands. How did the Japanese respond? Remarkably, before they learned Dutch or English or French, tens of thousands of Japanese studied how to read and write the Chinese classical language (古文) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries using the native reading and writing approach known as kundoku 訓讀 (lit., “glosses for reading”) for Kanbun 漢文. I will contend this was because Japan's “early modern” 近世 transformations were consciously modeled on late imperial China. But the Manchu threat was transient. After subduing Taiwan and the Pescadores in the 1680s, the Qing turned westward and began military campaigns in Central Asia in the early eighteenth century.2
Before turning to medical learning in Japan, my account will first focus on Japanese curiosity about China, which began with study of the Chinese language. I will then show how such curiosity then quickly carried over to the scrutiny of contemporary Chinese statecraft, moral discourse, and medicine. Their literary, political, and economic encounters with China as “that other country” (ihō 異邦) in the eighteenth century inspired the Japanese to reenvision themselves as “masters of Chinese learning” (中國通). They hoped not only to keep pace with but also eventually to surpass the continental Goliath. The Japanese fantasized about learning from the most advanced state, society, and economy in the eighteenth century East Asian world. This Japanese focus on China as the model to emulate in the eighteenth century was of course redirected to Europe in the nineteenth. Ironically, many of the historical aspects of the rise of Europe in global history after 1600 and the rise of the British Empire in the eighteenth century also were direct reactions to the Ming and Qing empires, its civil service, its powerful economy, as well as its tea and industrial porcelain production.3
New Terms of Trade between China and Japan in the Eighteenth Century
Japan refused openly to acknowledge China as the leading power in East Asia. Nevertheless the Tokugawa government sought to discourage conflict and allowed the tally trade (J. kangō 勘合,C. kanhe) with Ming China to resume via Ningbo 寧波 in a new form after 1715. To enter Nagasaki harbor, where the shogunate had restricted China trade since 1635, Qing vessels had to formally accept—for the first time—Japanese terms in order to receive trading credentials (J. shinpai 信牌,C. xinbai; Nagasaki tsūshō shōhyō 長崎通商照票). The Ming tally trade had been a trading visa issued to tributaries like Ashikaga 足利 Japan (1338–1573) by the Ming court. Unhappy with the precedent that the preceding Ashikaga regime had formally asked for and received recognition as a Japanese tributary under the Ming, the Tokugawa issued its own trade credentials after 1715 to avoid tributary status under the Qing dynasty—and to imply Chinese subordination.4
In the eighteenth century, Nagasaki 長崎 was home to a Chinatown 唐館 (Tōjin yashiki 唐人屋敷), which during the peak of the trading season brought some ten thousand Chinese and Overseas Chinese to the city. However, Tokugawa control of the trade also forced a decline in the number of Chinese ships arriving in Nagasaki during the eighteenth century from 70 to less than 20 yearly. By comparison, Dutch ships arriving in Nagasaki in this period declined in number from 5 or 6 to 1 or 2 annually.5
Some southern Chinese merchants, who did not receive their new credentials giving access to the Japan market, complained to their officials. They charged that the acceptance of the Tokugawa era name 德川年號 on the new Japanese trading credentials 長崎信牌 was treasonous on the part of a vassal state like Japan. Local officials in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces responded by confiscating the Japanese trade credentials and reported the matter to the imperial court in Beijing. When the Tokugawa government was informed of the dispute by one of the ships that escaped and returned to Nagasaki with its Japanese credentials intact, the Japanese accused the Qing dynasty of ignoring foreign statutes. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and the dispute quickly blew over. The Tokugawa did not want to antagonize the Qing any further, and the Kangxi emperor 康煕 (r. 1662–1722) needed Japanese copper for minting Qing currency.6
Realism generally prevailed in eighteenth century diplomatic relations. As a result, Chinese ships with the proper trade credentials continued to visit Nagasaki throughout the Tokugawa era. The Japanese tallies proved effective in managing the Tokugawa trade with Qing China. The Qing state allowed trade with both Japan and Russia (since 1689 in Nerchinsk 尼布楚) to continue outside the tribute system. It is interesting, however, that Japanese Buddhist missions to China continued during the eighteenth century, but they followed earlier tributary traditions of entry. One group of monks from the Enryakuji 延暦寺 temple on Mr. Hiei 比叡山 in Kyoto 京都, for instance, prepared diplomatic papers in fall 1732 (九月), which were filed with Ningbo (Mingzhou 明州) officials (台州刺史) in early winter 1733 (二月) upon their arrival in Zhejiang. The diplomatic papers prepared by the Tendai 天台 monks were in the name of the “country of Japan” (Nihon koku 日本國), while Qing China was referred to as the “Tang” 唐 (J. Kara).7
As one of the chief Tokugawa ministers, Arai Hakuseki 新井白石 (1657–1725), an alleged Sinophile 頌華者 in the shogun's 將軍 inner circle who was proud of his Chinese poetry, played a pivotal role in drafting the 1715 regulations. He feared that the exodus of mineral resources through the Nagasaki trade to China had caused shortages, which had restrained domestic trade and increased smuggling. About 75% of the gold and 25% of the silver in Japan were spent on foreign trade, he noted. The goal of the new regulations was to restrict the Nagasaki trade in metals, especially copper and silver, to no more than 30 Chinese ships visiting Nagasaki per year. Japan had already placed a general ban on exporting silver in 1668, but this became permanent in 1763. Arai was also concerned about Qing expansionist policies, and he feared that the Kangxi emperor was maneuvering to weaken Japan. In the process, Nagasaki's native population went from a height of 64,523 in 1696 to 42,553, when the new trading restrictions were started in 1715.
The Manchu Threat and Tokugawa Perceptions of China
The Manchu conquest of China troubled the Japanese. Kumazawa Banzan 熊沢蕃山 (1619–1691), an eccentric samurai was best known for his efforts to adapt the Daoxue 道學 teachings of Wang Yangming 王陽明 (1472–1529) to Japan, when most Tokugawa scholars tended more toward the orthodox Song Learning 宋學 associated with Cheng Yi 程頤 (1032–1085) and Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130–1200). Cheng-Zhu 程朱 teachings were first brought to Japan during the Song 宋 dynasty by Chan (J. Zen) 禪學 monks associated with the Kamakura 鎌倉 (1185–1333) state and the Gozan temples 五山寺. Later, Korean scholars 朝鮮儒者 uprooted to Japan during Tōyōtomi Hideyoshi's 豊臣秀吉 (1536–1598) invasion updated Zhu Xi's teachings. Banzan openly discussed the strategic problems posed by an imminent Manchu invasion of Japan and stressed Japan's lack of preparedness in his 1686 Daigaku wakumon 大學或問 (Questions on the Great Learning). No one took Banzan's approach to classical learning too seriously at first, but the Tokugawa regime shared his fear that the Manchu conquest would spill across the Yellow Sea, just as the Mongol conquest had.8
In 1674, the Tokugawa government had already ordered Hayashi Gahō 林鵞鳳, the rector of the newly endowed shogunal college for classical learning 儒學 in Edo 江戶 known as the Senseiden 先聖殿, to assess the threat posed to Japan by the Manchu conquest of China. Gahō was the son of one of the two leading Cheng-Zhu 程朱 scholars in early Tokugawa, Hayashi Razan 林羅山 (1583–1657), who had the private college constructed in 1630. Under the Ashikaga regime, such diplomatic assignments would have been given to Buddhist monks in the five major mountain Zen temples (五山寺) in Kamakura. They were able to read and document difficult classical Chinese sources. For much of the sixteenth century, Confucian learning, particularly Cheng-Zhu 程朱 teachings, had been their prerogative; Buddhist spirituality and classical learning went hand in hand. The rulers of the Ashikaga-Muromachi 足利-室町 government had relied on Buddhist clerics, as masters of classical Chinese in an era of warrior dominance on the battlefield and aristocratic preeminence in family ancestry and cultural taste, for their official interactions with the Ming dynasty. During the widespread destruction of the Ōnin War 応仁の乱 from 1466 to 1477, however the Kamakura Zen monks began to lose their cultural influence, when the major Zen temples in Kyoto were burned to the ground and their monks dispersed.9
Hayashi Razan and Gahō represented the beginnings of a new constellation in Japanese state and society: Tokugawa classical scholars Jusha 儒者 (Confucians) who were often commoners (heimin 平民). Many like Razan were originally from Buddhist ranks, but after the pummelling Buddhism took in the sixteenth century civil wars 戰國時代, they had turned to the teachings of Confucius for their new calling. Their skill in classical Chinese led the Tokugawa court to rely on them rather than Buddhists to learn about the tumultuous events in China.10
After Hayashi Gahō compiled his account of current events in China, he called the work Ka'i hentai 華夷変態 (The reversal of China and the barbarians). In the preface, Hayashi presented China's transformation from “civilized” (ka 華) to “barbarian” (i 夷) because of the Manchu conquest. That the barbarous Manchus conquered China suggested to Hayashi and others that cultural superiority had passed to Japan, despite its failures to conquer Korea and China under Tōyōtomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉.11
Arrested briefly because he had vocally rejected the Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy, the troublesome samurai-scholar Yamaga Sokō 山鹿素行 (1622–1685), for example, also argued that the Manchu conquest proved Japan's superiority over China. He contrasted Japan, whose military had always repelled foreign conquests, with China's repeated subjugation by barbarians. The Manchus were simply the latest in a long line of outsiders in China. Japanese beliefs in the unbroken imperial lineage and its divine origin also evidenced their country's superiority. Yamaga concluded: “Our ruling dynasty (honchō 本朝) is descended from [the sun goddess] Amaterasu, and its lineage has remained intact from the times of the deities until today.”12
Asami Keisai 浅見絅斎 (1652–1711), Sokō's contemporary and a follower of the Yamazaki Ansai 山崎闇斎 (1618–1682) Kimon school 崎門學派, shared some of Sōkō's views of China. Asami prepared his account of China for lectures given between 1688 and 1689, shared in letters to his colleague Satō Naokata 佐藤直方 in 1700–1701. Published as “Chūgoku ben” 中國辨 (Disputations on the Central Kingdom), Asami's work denied China's priority as the Middle Kingdom. The new global geography prepared by the Europeans revealed that China's centrality was spurious. He also noted that barbarian 夷狄 areas had become integral parts of the Zhou order thousands of years ago. The sage-king Shun 舜 was a barbarian, for example, who had achieved sagehood and ruled over China.
Satō Naokata, also a follower of Kimon, took a more radical position than either Asami or Ansai. In his 1706 Chūgoku ron shū 中國論集 (collected arguments about the Middle Kingdom), Naokata held that the Chinese classics and the Shinto classics could not both be true. Neither the Chinese nor the Japanese imperial line was pure and unbroken and neither the Japanese nor the Chinese emperor was divine. Thus, for Naokata, neither Japan nor China was the “Middle Kingdom.”13
Yamazaki Ansai sided with Asami in this debate. As a result, the Kimon school stressed Confucian-Shinto syncretism 儒神折衷, which linked Cheng-Zhu learning to Japanese nativism 國學. Neither Yamazaki Ansai nor his immediate followers clearly envisioned a sacred national polity (kokutai 國體), but when Ansai's teachings were combined with the Mito 水戶 school's focus on Japanese history 大日本史 and Japanese nativism 國學 in the nineteenth century, an unbroken genealogy upholding Japanese nationalism began to emerge. That occurred much later but certainly not yet in the eighteenth century, when “Chinese Learning” was the rage in Japanese elite society.14
Japan, for some, was now the “Second Rome” (第二個羅馬), that is, Japan had succeeded imperial China in Asia as Byzantium had succeeded imperial Rome. But the Tokugawa state dared not act on such pretensions. The ill-fated Tōyōtomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 invasions of Korea in the 1590s still weighed heavily on the shogun. Given the dangers the Manchus posed to Japan after their invasions of Korea in 1627 and 1636 and conquest of Beijing in 1644, a direct confrontation between the Tokugawa and the Manchus was plausible. Indeed, many Ming loyalists in Japan such as Zhu Shunshui 朱舜水 (1600–1682) had called on the Tokugawa to aid the Southern Ming remnants. The Manchus quickly lost interest in Japan, however, as long as Korea posed no threat to their Manchurian homelands. They also had their hands full in China dealing with the Revolt of the Three Feudatories in the 1670s and with the Russians along the borders of their northeastern homelands in the 1680s. Meanwhile, the Tokugawa government showed no interest in establishing official or diplomatic or commercial relations with the Qing dynasty.15
The Tokugawa also refused to acknowledge Chosŏn Korea 朝鮮 (1392–1910) as a kingdom within the Chinese tributary system because Japan wanted to establish itself as superior to Korea and not equal to it under China. This produced a Japan-centered miniature tributary system in which Korea sent diplomatic missions to Japan with no return Japanese embassy to Seoul. Altogether, Korea sent twelve official embassies to Edo, making it the only foreign country, in addition to the Ryūkūs 琉球, to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Japan until the nineteenth century. The Ryūkyū Islands sent fifteen embassies to Japan between 1634 and 1806, but the Japanese considered the Ryūkyū leader a dependent of Kagoshima 鹿児島藩.16
This seventeenth century shift from a view of Ming China as civilized and Japan as barbaric to the Tokugawa claim by some that Japan had surpassed the Manchu Qing dynasty became common in Japanese writings thereafter, but no one went beyond the limited cultural claims that Yamaga Sokō and the arch-nativist Motoori Norinaga 本居宣長 (1730–1801) would make. Indeed, Norinaga spent his days practicing traditional Chinese medicine called Kanpō 漢方 in Japan—which I will discuss in more detail below—to make a living, which allowed him to attack Chinese learning in his evening lectures for Japanese nativists.17 If Yamaga Sōkō stressed classical language and ritual as the civilizing criteria for Japan, then the only criteria Japan could adopt to claim superiority would be Confucian models. If Tokugawa was to be the “Second Rome,” then it would have to prove that its people had mastered Chinese classical learning and had become more Confucian than the Chinese. There were as yet no Western standards that either the Chinese or the Japanese could take seriously.18
Chinese Learning and Early Modern Japanese Society
To some degree, the commercial and tribute exchanges of books and knowledge between China, Japan, and Korea in the seventeenth and eighteenth century promoted the emergence, before the coming of the western powers, of an East Asian community of textual scholars (東亞學術界), who specialized in empirical research 考證學 and philological studies 文獻學 of the Chinese Confucian and medical classics. Ōba Osamu has made clear that the Chinese presence in the Nagasaki trade, after the Manchu conquest of China was secure in the 1680s, was considerable and that among the important commodities in that trade were the recent scientific and medical books published in China, which Japanese scholars and shoguns desired, and rare classical texts long since lost in China but still available in Japan, which Chinese traders with scholarly interests sought.19
In the midst of these international events, Japan between 1600 and 1800 began the metamorphosis from a society dominated by a provincial military caste (samurai 侍) and an imperial aristocracy (kizoku 貴族) to a commercial society increasingly empowering merchants (chōnin 町人) and commoners (heimin 平民). One of these social changes was the rise of an identifiable group of men of letters 文人 who identified with the Confucian classical tradition. Remarkably, the Chinese literati–scholar–painter–doctor 士大夫, 儒者, 畫家, 儒醫 became an object of Japanese emulation. Buddhist scholarship and Japanese classical literature still had a strong following among monks and Kyoto aristocrats, but secular scholars followed a new avenue for social circulation in the new Tokugawa age of political unity and bureaucratic rationalization based on Confucian learning and Chinese statecraft.20
Most Japanese scholars did not yet identify themselves primarily as classical teachers or men of letters (文人), but they quickly recognized the uses of classical literacy in the new age. Some formerly were Buddhist monks (Fujiwara Seika 藤原惺窩, 1561–1619, Hayashi Razan, Yamazaki Ansai) or ex-samurai (Nakai Tōju 藤樹中江, 1608–1648), masterless samurai (Kumazawa Banzan), practitioners of medicine or the military arts or their sons (Hayashi Razan, Yamaga Sokō,Asami Keisai,Ogyū Sorai 荻生徂徠,1666–1728), or townsmen 町人 (Itō Jinsai 伊藤仁斎,1627–1705). They were still marginal in early Tokugawa society, but they slowly became a cultural elite.21
How did thousands of Japanese teachers, doctors, and students learn Chinese during the Tokugawa period, particularly during the eighteenth century peak of interest?22 The process began slowly in the seventeenth century, as it became clear that the Buddhist clergy had lost its secular functions in foreign and civil affairs early in the eighteenth century. Many in the Tokugawa educational market were classically literate samurai, merchants, physicians, or commoners. Many Japanese men began making a living as teachers in a private, merchant, or public schools 私塾. For instance, Itō Jinsai, a commoner, and Yamazaki Ansai, who began as a Buddhist monk, competed for students by establishing their Confucian schools directly across from each other on the banks of the Horikawa River in the center of Kyoto. Jinsai established his Kogidō 古義道 academy in 1662 with the help of his son Tōgai 伊藤東涯, which attracted 3,000 students over 45 years to study the Chinese Classics. The Taki 多紀 family, on the other hand, established a private school of medicine called the Seijukan 躋壽館 in 1765 in their home in Edo. When the Tokugawa made it the government's official medical school (Igakkan 医学館) for the new Kanpō 漢方 traditions of Chinese medicine in 1791, members of the Taki family initially occupied the top teaching posts. Their commentaries on the Chinese medical classics were among the soundest in East Asia in their time, and still circulate in China today.23
The Kanbun 漢文 teacher's authority emerged from his mastery of the Japanese techniques for reading and writing the classical Chinese language, which he was able to introduce to students who learned the texts with a series of practical steps of instruction. This process began by parsing Kanbun into its constituent parts: types of written characters 文字, correct phrases and sentences 章句, and forms of reasoning 文理. Like his Chinese counterparts, the Japanese grammarian became a preserver and transmitter of the classical language as the repository of articulate utterance in high culture by marking correct punctuation and readings 訓讀, incorporating voicing marks, and adding interlinear glosses for Kanbun particles known as jōshi 助字 (lit., “connectives,” i.e., prepositions, particles, endings), jitsuji 實字 (lit., “concrete graphs,” i.e., names of things 名物), and kyōji 虛字 (lit., “insubstantials,” that is adjectives and verbs.24
The top teachers transmitted the articulations of the Five Classics; lesser, more technical teachers taught the medical classics and the mathematical classics along with the highly developed wasan 和算 (Japanese mathematics).25 Their mastery of the canon was not tested for the civil service as in China, but the leading classical teachers quickly found their niches among the merit-sensitive commoners and merchants who lacked but also disdained the marks of high birth. As many commoners rose in social standing because of their classical literacy, landless warriors fell into poverty and disrepute because the style of life to which they were bred submerged them in debts to merchants. Many samurai, recognizing that success required literacy rather than martial arts, now studied to become scholars or doctors.26
Like his Chinese counterparts, the classicist's membership in the elite depended on his schooling in classical, medical, and literary texts. Motoori Norinaga, for example, studied medicine in Kyoto from 1753 to 1756 under Confucian teachers who were followers of the “latter day” Song-Jin-Yuan traditions of medicine known in Tokugawa as the Goseiha 後世派 group. Norinaga also read works by those who sought to revive ancient Chinese medical practices (古醫方) lost since antiquity. As Japanese mastered the rules governing phonology, morphology, syntax, and diction, their Kanbun expertise qualified them as paragons of a civilized society that could compete culturally with China.27
The ancient sages of culture and medicine now spoke directly to the Japanese through the Classics, and many listened. Words became the entry to a world of formalism and pedantry, rules and categories, and rare lexical discussions. The classicist's command of a few classical texts saved him from the base occupations of the unlearned. Weighing individual words, phrases, and verses allowed him and his students to write their way to fame and fortune, or at least to teach and write for others. Because classical knowledge became a prestigious form of writing and speech in the eighteenth century, it also appealed to the Tokugawa lords who learned to need a literate bureaucracy to administer their domains.28
The classicist's instruction was embedded in a social system where wealth, distinction, and eloquence differentiated elites from those who were mainly poor, anonymous, and illiterate. Those without classical educations were now more noticeable; before, only the Buddhists had been the masters of Chinese language. Confucians now provided the language and values through which a changing social and political elite recognized its own aspiring members. The governing classes of courtiers and warriors, once totally aristocratic, now shared elite status with commoners with classical educations. Confucian “letters” wen/bun 文 signaled increased social status. Classical studies provided upward social circulation, particularly access to urban networks of patronage.29
As in China since the Song dynasty, literacy and print culture now mattered. They were no longer simply window dressing for aristocrats or a calling for Zen monks. The value of “letters”文 amidst the pervasive illiteracy of Tokugawa society made grammar the first for upwardly mobile students who were drawn to literary culture (bunka 文化), for which consecutive Tokugawa reign periods, Bunka 文化 (1804–1817) and Bunsei 文政 (1818–1829), were named. In turn, the social and cultural elite valued the classical teacher and hired him to train their young. By opening their own schools and preparing their own textbooks, classical teachers also became the agents of language transmission and the civilizing process. Because grammar was the second stage after memorization in a classical education, students had to master many technical rules. Since the grammarian controlled access to the classical language, his profession was thereby embedded in the shared life of the elite. Kanbun was a useful measure of classical success because it worked so well and smoothly—unlike the “vulgar” vernacular language 俗語 of the marketplace. Grammarians taught the forms of classical, medical, and literary analysis and conceptual categories inherited from the past in China and now reproduced in Japan; some even taught colloquial Chinese.30
Not wealthy in their own right, as the aristocrats and land-holding samurai initially were, teachers depended on fees. Physicians, however, could amass wealth in Japan by transposing their linguistic expertise to classically informed clinical practice. In a political order that unsuccessfully strove to freeze social status, because doctors had no hereditary place, ca. 1600, in the Tokugawa, they had the advantage of a liminal role that they could individually define.
The stigma of the teaching profession was to have to make a living in a world of haughty amateur Kyoto and Edo elites. Teachers depended on class size and their students' ability to pay. The professional teacher drew additional income from his family property, as a landlord, or via medical practice, among many other options. We have already stressed how the renowned Sinophobe, Motoori Norinaga, for instance, mastered classical Chinese well enough to practice Chinese medicine professionally. He also used his language ability to attack the Confucian Classics and Chinese sages in his lectures to his nativist followers at his evening school. The best classicists, such as Ogyū Sorai, received public and private salaries as retainers for daimyo schools and teachers in their own schools. Grammarians were not especially mobile; they were usually limited to Kyoto, Edo, and other regional centers where most students were. Often they were appointed or deposed as officials according to the prerogatives of Tokugawa aristocrats.31
In addition, scholars could augment their teaching by preparing textbooks for the growing Tokugawa publishing world. Publishers, especially in Edo, Osaka, and Kyoto, welcomed books that focused on teaching Chinese literary grammar for reading and writing Kanbun, and they publicized them widely in their advertisements. There were many autodidacts who studied a modicum of Chinese this way and by visiting lending libraries (kashi honya 貸本屋), some six hundred in Edo alone by 1800.32
Minagawa Kien 皆川淇園 (1734–1807) in Kyoto and Yamamoto Hokuzan 山本北山 (1752–1812) in Edo were particularly prolific in this regard. Minagawa was a model man of letters 文人 in the ancient capital. He became a leader in defining the role of Chinese learning and the scope of “Sinology” 漢學 (Kangaku) there. Besides his learned tomes, he also published a 1798 handbook for learning to read and write Kanbun entitled Shūbun roku 習文録, which was reprinted after his death, as well as a number of textbooks in Kyoto on substantive jitsiji 實字 (“concrete graphs, nouns, etc.”), insubstantial kyōji 虛字 (“verbs, adjectives, etc.”), and auxiliary connectives jōshi 助字 (“openings, endings, prepositions, etc.”), which bookstores sold throughout Japan. Yamamoto published a similar reading and writing primer in Edo circa 1818 entitled Sakubun ritsu 作文率.33
How to teach classical Chinese became a matter of sharp debate in the eighteenth century. Most Kanbun teachers typically punctuated a Chinese text according to Japanese word order, an order in which Japanese verbs came at the end of a sentence, for example. Ogyū Sorai objected to this method and preferred to teach his students to speak colloquial Chinese and read and write directly in classical Chinese. When he moved to Edo and opened a school in 1711, Sorai called it the Yakusha 譯社 (Translation society). One of his disciples, Dazai Shundai 太宰春台 (1680–1747) wrote critically of the schooling and the textbooks used for teaching Chinese in Japan. He upheld Sorai's opinion that Japanese should learn to read and write Chinese in Chinese directly and stop transposing the Chinese characters into Japanese word order and pronunciation. The prestigious Suwaraya Shinbei 須原屋新兵衛 publisher in Edo released his Wadoku yōryō 和讀要領 (Essentials of Japanese readings of Chinese) in 1728. In vain, however, Dazai complained that when the Japanese read Chinese in Japanese word order, they were no longer reading Chinese. He noted the history of how Chinese was taught in Japan and concluded that in order to master classical Chinese, Japanese would have to understand the Chinese word order. Otherwise, they would never understand the correct meaning (不知句法, 文法, 字義). He like Sorai advocated getting rid of the Japanese readings of Chinese (夫倭語不可以讀中夏之書).34
Classical scholars in Japan led a profitable career as grammarians who also taught literary style. Their textbooks established a basic grammar and sentence structure, which enabled Japanese students in the eighteenth century to master Chinese classical syntax, even if they mentally transposed sentences into Japanese word order. What attracted the ruling classes to such classical teachers, in addition to careerism, was that Chinese classical learning affirmed the conventional virtues. The grammarian affirmed the status quo for employers who preferred it. Novelty or change, if any, was an unintended byproduct of learning to read and write. Classical learning became the guide to the right choices. Virtue and letters upheld each other.
In Tokugawa Japan, unlike China, the urban or village grammarian depended on his public reputation because there was no civil examination degree to mark his expertise. This was why the Japanese classicist was so different from his Chinese counterpart. Polished secular writing modulated the scholars' dual relationships with the charismatic scriptures of their religious masters and the classical texts of their teachers. The mixture of the classical and the religious that began in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods was now increasingly the stock in trade of Confucian grammarians, teachers, and classicists, who frequently disdained Buddhism and Shinto in favor of a secular vision of society.
The social status of the Kanbun teachers reveals a considerable range in social origins and fortunes. They were subordinate to patrons who provided them with their sons as students. They enjoyed middling respectability among urbanized elites, particularly aristocrats in Kyoto and samurai officials in the various Tokugawa domains. As teachers, they had some chance for professional, social, and geographic mobility within their domains and within the shogunal government, but without access to the highest positions held by the military and imperial court aristocrats. Often they became primary consultants in their domains. From samurai, commoner, and medical backgrounds, they represented the respectable classes in the growing cities. Edo grew to over one million very early in the Tokugawa era. Despite their skills and accrued respect, they remained closer to the bottom than the top of the social pyramid. Their class origins remained a stigma, unlike the unmitigated cultural prestige that a small number of Chinese commoners achieved through the civil examinations.
Still, their role as grammarians created an aura for them as masters of texts. They could overcome the limits of their status, but only up to a point. Their role as social and cultural mediators of Kanbun allowed them to mix with the aristocrats and warrior-officials, particularly their sons, but the rural teacher was never far removed from his modest beginnings. Successful classical grammarians were drawn to the major cities and regional centers that provided more pupils from the middle and upper elites for their schools.
Classical teachers were motivated by the hope for fame in the increasingly fluid urban world, but their equivocal social standing prompted them to despise doctors or merchants just below them who strove to climb higher. Classicists such as Itō Jinsai criticized doctors as nouveau riches who equated their “lesser” classical learning with the Confucian classics. Similarly Ogyū Sorai remarked how classical physicians exploited the Chinese Classics to rise in urban society. Many sons of doctors became classicists throughout the Tokugawa period; classicists in turn became masters of the medical classics. In section four below, we will look more closely at the rise of a “medical philology” 醫考證學 in Japanese medical circles.35
Classical teachers who commanded large student audiences such as Ogyū Sorai and Dazai Shundai were Sinophiles who extolled the ancient Chinese language, unlike such figures as Motoori Norinaga, a Sinophobe who appealed instead to ancient Japanese as the ideal spoken language. Sinophiles and Sinophobes were not always enemies. Each side represented a hybrid. Norinaga, we have seen, was a fluent reader and writer of the Chinese language that he abhorred. For Sorai, Tokugawa's decentralized system was more akin to the time of the ancient sage-kings in China, and thus it was easier, he thought, for Japan rather than China to return to the Ancient Way. Sorai also began to see himself as a true heir of the Way in Japan, which he thought China had lost. He also began to study ancient Chinese music, which he thought China had carelessly lost and now survived only in Japan.36
Tokugawa Confucians Japanized the Way of the Chinese sages by detaching Confucianism from China. This tactic allowed them to claim special status as civilized. Itō Jinsai adopted this approach to affirm the priority of Confucian values in Japan over China. He believed that Japan could maintain the values and ideals that China had betrayed, thus making the Chinese the barbarians for straying from the Classics. Jinsai also stressed the continuity of the Japanese rulers in contrast to China's frequent dynastic changes. This approach still meant they were judging Japan by Chinese categories and standards. Both Jinsai and Sorai, as teachers and classical scholars, had internalized their sinophilism, that is, “Japanized it,” and turned it against China.37
The Adaptation of Chinese Learning in Eighteenth Century Japan
To understand the broad impact of Chinese social and intellectual trends in eighteenth century Japan, I will examine the history of Chinese medicine (中醫史) in connection with the intellectual and cultural history of classical learning introduced above. Specialists normally study East Asian Confucianism and medicine without reference to each other. Doctors 醫家, mathematicians 算學家, and philologists 考證學家 throughout the region studied the same Confucian, mathematical, and medical classics. Indeed, physicians and mathematicians throughout East Asia were likely to be as classically literate as Chinese mandarins who had passed the civil service examinations.38
Moreover, new classical trends in Qing China spilled over to Chosŏn Korea 朝鮮 and Tokugawa Japan. In the late eighteenth century, in particular, Japanese scholars interested in Chinese classical studies learned and adapted the philological research techniques (考證) pioneered by Qing literati.39 Similarly, a homology developed between classical learning and social status in imperial China and Tokugawa Japan where the physician and druggist (中醫方) became a bookman (藏書家) as well. Literati physicians (儒醫) in China should be looked at this way, certainly since the Song dynasty, when state production of books (宋監本) led to a revolution in every aspect of medical learning and practice. Japanese townsmen and unemployed samurai similarly took to medicine and book learning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.40
Sometimes this transmission occurred through Chosŏn Korea's 朝鮮 more frequent contact with the Qing court via tribute missions sent directly to Beijing. More often it occurred when Tokugawa scholars received via Nagasaki the most recent classical works published during the Qing dynasty.41 Qing China under the Qianlong 乾隆 emperor (r. 1736–1795) was more open intellectually to new currents of thought than was contemporary Japan during Matsudaira Sadanobu's 松平定信 (1758–1829) Kansei Ban on Heterodox Learning (Kansei igaku no kin 寬政異學之禁) in 1790. The latter sought to expel ancient learning (Kogaku 古學) from the Shōheikō 昌平校, then the Edo domain's official school (官學). By way of contrast, the Qianlong court promoted both Han 漢學 and Song Learning 宋學 in the precincts of the Siku quanshu 四庫全書 Imperial Library Project. Indeed, many scholars in China, Japan, and Korea were not tradition-bound or so conservative that they could not also deal with the Western ideas (西學) increasingly present in East Asia as a result of Jesuit influences.42
Among the important commodities in Ningbo-Nagasaki trade, for example, were recent medical, mathematical, and science books published in China, which Japanese scholars (儒士) and shoguns (將軍) desired, and rare classical texts long since lost in China but still available in Japan, which Chinese traders with scholarly interests sought.43 During Qing period alone, Japan imported over 8,000 titles in Chinese from China. Under the shogun Yoshimune 吉宗 (r. 1716–1745), the Tokugawa government also allowed Chinese translations of Western Jesuit works from China to enter Japan. Specifically, Yoshimune in 1720 removed the ban on importing foreign books in classical Chinese on astronomy and medicine.
If a brouhaha between Sinophiles “頌華者” and Sinophobes “貶華者” was in the works, Chinese learning still had the upper hand in Japanese society over Buddhism and Shinto nativism for much of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The intensity of Mootori Norinaga's attack on Confucian learning and the Chinese language, for instance, makes little sense unless we take into account the boom in Chinese studies (Kangaku 漢學) in Edo and Kyoto in the eighteenth century, which we have illustrated above. This Japanese brouhaha had its roots in Shinto, but not until Confucian classical learning from China had overtaken and superseded Buddhism in Japan in the seventeenth century did Shinto challenge Japanese Confucians. We will see below that as late as the 1820s, Sinophiles such as Ōta Kinjō 大田錦城 (1765–1825) voiced their admiration for Chinese learning and even for the Manchu regime that had conquered all of China.
The admiration for Chinese learning in Japan before 1800 produced fears, for instance, that Japanese native learning was imperiled. Motoori Norinaga, himself a student of the Chinese classics and a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, voiced his intense opposition to Chinese civilization at the age of 42 in his Naobi no mitama 直毘靈 (Rectifying spirit, 1771), which introduced his life's work on the Kojiki-den 古事記傳. Like many other commoners and townsmen (chōnin 町人), Norinaga had turned from his family's business to Chinese medicine as a way to raise his status and support his scholarly interest. He despised both Japanese aristocrats and sinicized Japanese for their pretensions.44
A Sinophobe, Norinaga especially rebuked Japanese Confucians who denigrated Japan. The Sinophile Dazai Shundai had attacked the ancient Japanese custom of half-brother and half-sister marriage for violating the Confucian taboo on sexual relations between those of the same surname. From Dazai's point of view, the Confucian classics had civilized the Japanese. Norinaga, on the other hand, painted an image of Ogyū Sorai as the “eastern barbarian” (東夷) of his time because he worshipped China over Japan. The recognition of Japan's special place as a sacred community had been subverted by China's Way, which according to Norinaga had deceived the people of Japan.45
New Chinese Medical Traditions in Eighteenth Century Japan
For commoners in Tokugawa society, traditional Chinese medicine, like classical studies, offered one of fastest avenues for upward mobility during the eighteenth century. Asada Sōhaku's 浅田宗伯 (1815–1894) Kōchō yishi 皇朝醫史 (History of physicians in the Tokugawa era; later published as 皇國名醫傳) was modeled on the work of 1547 by Li Lian 李濂 (1488–1566) entitled Yi shi 医史. Asada completed his draft in 1834. In it, he described how many of the leading physicians who favored the revival of “Ancient Medicine” (Goihō 古醫方) in the eighteenth century entered the profession 作業 from commoner or lower samurai ranks.46
In particular, the career of Yoshimasa Tōdō 吉益東洞 (1702–1773), who became a proponent of Kanpō in Nagasaki and Kyoto, is instructive. His ancestors had been military officials but had lost their aristocratic status and become minor local physicians during the chaos of the Warring States 戰國 era (1482–1558). Initially Tōdō had hoped to restore his family to aristocratic status by taking up a military life, but he realized that “a period of great peace was no longer the right time to succeed as a soldier” (悟太平之世, 不可以武興––知其非時).47
Medicine allowed for upward mobility, but a career as a physician required years of training in classical Chinese medical texts, and the support of appropriate patrons, to master the new therapies (that is, standard “formulas”) emerging during the Ming-Qing revival of ancient Chinese medicine. Those Japanese physicians who later became interested in Western medicine, such as Sugita Genpaku 杉田伯元 (1763–1833), focused on mastering first classical Chinese and then Ming and Qing medical books entering Nagasaki from China.48 These Chinese currents of medicine took the form of a clash between those who favored reviving ancient medicine (古醫學), particularly the Shanghan lun 傷寒論 (Treatise of Cold Damage Disorders), versus those who continued to practice more recent Song-Jin-Yuan medical currents (後世派) based on the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經, which was itself composed of the Suwen 素問 (Basic Questions) and the Lingshu 靈樞 (Divine Pivot).49
The Huangdi neijing, written in the later Han, set in two orthodox recensions during the Tang, and edited and printed during the Northern Song, focused on vital functions and dysfunctions and their cosmic correlates in the part called the Basic Questions (Suwen), while applying these understandings to acupuncture and moxibustion 鍼灸 in the Divine Pivot (Lingshu). This classic paid little attention to details of therapy; its focus was on hygiene and preventative medicine. Physicians and classical scholars since the Song regarded the Inner Canon as the basis of medical doctrine and, by implication, of practice.50 Later the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders by Zhang Zhongjing 張仲景 (150?–219?) applied the Inner Canon to drug therapy for a starting point in clinical practice. Zhang allegedly wrote his book between A.D. 196 and 220 in response to Later Han epidemics. He called it the Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Disorders (Shanghan zabing lun 傷寒雜病論). From the Song, literati considered the Inner Canon the fount of medical doctrine, for which the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders provided a guide to clinical practice.51
Late Ming and Qing scholar–physicians challenged medical learning since the Northern Song dynasty (960–1126). Qing scholar–physicians in particular sought to reverse the adulteration of ancient medical practice in the Song-Ming period via Song Learning 宋學 medical practitioners such as Liu Wansu 劉完素 (1120–1200) and Zhu Zhenheng 朱震亨 (1280–1358), who relied too much on Cheng-Zhu theory 道學之理論. The Qing appeal to the ancient significance (古義) of the authentic medical classics added to the growing eighteenth century denunciations of the Cheng-Zhu orthodoxy in classical, political, and social matters. Moreover, Ming physicians such as Wang Ji 汪機 (1463–1539) and Yu Chang 喻昌 (1585–1664) increasingly referred to case histories 醫案, a new genre, instead of the medical classics to advertise their therapeutic successes and explain them to students and amateurs.52
Qing debates between antiquarians and modernists concerning early medicine paralleled those between Kangaku 漢學 and Shushigaku 朱子學 in Tokugawa Japan. Japanese Ancient Learning scholars, for example, focused on the distant past to overcome the loss of prestige by the recent Cheng-Zhu tradition. The “return to the ancients” 復古 rhetoric that Itō Jinsai and Ogyū Sorai pioneered early in the eighteenth century carried over to the discussion of medical texts by mid-century. Like Han studies scholars, for example, Tokugawa scholar–physicians began by studying Han dynasty medical texts because the latter were allegedly more ancient. They rejected Song dynasty medical sources, which Muromachi scholar–physicians had relied on, because of their questionable authority and greater separation from antiquity. Sorai himself, for example, had also declared that the Suwen 素問 (Basic Questions), which Song medical sources cited, was a composite work compiled by Han dynasty technicians 方士 and not the work of the Yellow Emperor 黃帝.53
The overlap between evidential research 考證 methods and textual study of the medical classics began in the late Ming and early Qing in China. Such textual approaches to the Inner Canon 內經 also led scholars in the eighteenth century to investigate the original content of the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and the role of heat factor 熱病 illnesses in it. Making critical editions of the ancient medical texts also enabled Japanese scholar–physicians to reexamine their original import. New works appeared on the Inner Canon, Zhang Zhongjing's Treatise on Cold Factor Illnesses, and Zhang's Essentials of the Golden Casket 金匱要略. A proliferation of annotations 注疏 emerged, with many more works published in China and Japan on the Shanghan lun than ever before. This era of Japanese medical philology 醫考證學, which focused on the Chinese medical classics, peaked between 1780 and 1840.54
Because the Inner Canon had been compiled during the Han, it may have represented the therapeutic experience in the ancient Yellow River region in the northwest. The Inner Canon had inherited a web of correlations among the qi 氣, its circulation tracts 經絡, the five phases 五行, and the six yin-yang 三陰三陽 modalities worked out during the Han dynasty, which linked the four seasons 四季, climatic elements 氣候, and all sources of pathology 邪氣. The Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders, on the other hand, represented what people at the time considered southern medical traditions, which also used yin-yang 陰陽 and pulse-palpitations 脈法 to delineate the six stages of disease, an innovation of the Shanghan lun. Zhang Zhongjing made it clear that he had used the yin-yang and five phases perspectives of the Inner Canon. In the late Ming, Yu Chang and others ignoring Zhang's preface contended that Wang Shuhe's 王叔和 (210–285) Jin 晉 dynasty (265–420) commentary for the Shanghan lun (ca. 280) had inserted the theoretical structure of the Inner Canon into the Treatise, which became the orthodox view during the Song dynasty that late Ming scholar–physicians challenged.
Like evidential scholars of the Classics, Qing and Tokugawa scholar–physicians thought their rediscoveries would improve contemporary medical therapies. The Kyoto based physician Nagoya Gen'i 名古屋玄医 (1628–1696) presented the first new expositions of Zhang Zhongjing's Treatise in Japan. He had been influenced by Ming scholar–physicians such as Yu Chang. Nagoya was followed in this effort by Gotō Konzan 後藤良山 (1659–1733), and Kagawa Shūan 香川修庵 (1683–1755). The latter had been a student of Itō Jinsai and advocated the unity of classical and medical learning 儒醫一本論. By the late eighteenth century, Naitō Kitetsu's 內藤希哲 (1701–1735) groundbreaking 1776 book entitled Ikei kaiuku ron 醫經解惑論 appeared, which Dazai Shundai greatly admired.55
Naitō's emotional championing of Zhang Zhongjing as the sage of ancient medicine (古醫學之聖) was emulated by other Kyoto physicians such as Yamawaki Tōyō 山脇東洋 (1705–1762), whose pioneering anatomies influenced Sugita Genpaku 杉田玄白, and Yoshimasa Tōdō. Together these Japanese “ancient medicine” scholar–physicians 古方家 reconstituted what they considered the original prescription formulas 古方 of the Shanghan lun. They explained the therapeutic efficacy differently from Wang Shuhe's readings, which had been based on the circulation tracts 經絡 and five phases theory in the Inner Canon. Their effort to overcome eight centuries of misinterpretation was highlighted by their complete dismissal of Wang Shuhe as a reliable transmitter of ancient medical practices.56
Japanese scholar–physicians acknowledged the importance of works by their Ming–Qing predecessors, such as Fang Youzhi's 方有執 (b. 1523) Shanghan tiao bian 傷寒條辨 (1591), and those by Xu Dachun 徐大椿 (1693–1771),57 who in 1713 prepared a discussion of 113 prescriptions for fevers in the Treatise. However, their initial sinophilism, as in the cases of Itō Jinsai and Ogyū Sorai, eventually also turned into a mild form of sinophobia. Writing in the late 1820s, Nakagawa Kozan 中川壺山 (1773–1850) summed up the achievements of the generation of Japanese ancient medical practitioners that preceded him in the late eighteenth century in his Shōkan hatsubi furon 傷寒發微附論 (Appended discussions elaborating the subtleties in the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders). He claimed that Japanese medical scholars had pioneered the recovery of Zhang Zhongjing's sagely teachings concerning ancient medical practices (唯本邦近世豪傑之士, 劫然興起. 信聖慕古, 欲據長沙氏 [張仲景] 之書, 以施諸病之治... 終得古道復明於世矣).58
Nakagawa was from Kyoto and became a disciple of Yoshimasa Tōdō there. As a result, he focused on ancient Chinese medical formulas 古方. Nakagawa claimed that “China” (now referred to by Nakagawa in the early nineteenth century already as Shina 支那;C. Zhina) had lost its ancient medical traditions since the Song dynasty and descended into a cacophony of contending medical theories focusing on interpreting the organ systems 臟腑 according to the latest theories of the five phases (凡支那中世以來, 浮華為位. 故其理論著書, 確實者幾稀. 況醫家失古道而降, 無可依據者. 故或本臟腑. 或假五行以為至道. 然皆浮妄虛偽, 一無足據者, 至今猶不覺之 風位所染. 可悲夫.... 遂為其論所惑, 而不知其非).59
When asked about his not including references to China in his account of the revival of ancient Chinese medicine in Japan (論古今舉人物, 其稱本邦者, 則我邦. 而不加稱者為漢土, 豈非失當乎), Nakagawa brushed aside such concerns from his Japanese colleagues and contended that the Chinese had lost their own cultural heritage in medical studies by ruining the texts bequeathed (遺書) by Zhang Zhongjing. In effect, the Japanese scholars of ancient medicine had revealed the true, neglected meaning of the Shanghan lun, and thus surpassed China in medicine (夫長沙所傳之書, 上古聖人之法, 而宗內醫流之極也. 而其書出於彼而不出於此. 且彼久失其文, 深溺於浮妄之言. 於今得見其真面目者, 我先輩之力, 是已). The fact that Nakagawa had to answer his critics, however, indicates that there were a variety of positions about Kanpō in Japan. The Sinophobes were the most radical but not necessarily the most prominent physicians in Japan before 1850.60
Writing in 1845 in Edo, Asada Sōhaku prepared a similar set of claims in his Shōkan benjutsu 傷寒弁術 (Distinguishing techniques in the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders), which was sold in leading bookstores such as Suwaraya Mohei 須原屋茂兵衛 in Edo and Izumoji Bunjirō 出雲寺文次郎 in Kyoto. According to Asada, Song-Yuan medical scholars lost the way of the ancients and ruined the integrity of Zhang Zhongjing's teachings. Although Ming scholars such as Fang Youzhi and Yu Chang made some progress in redressing the losses, they had failed to understand the genuine meaning of the Shanghan lun. China “西土” had lost its heritage (西土之大, 為醫者, 其麗不億, 而無復醫人得仲景氏之為微旨者. 況於我東方乎). Meanwhile, Japan “東方” had focused on recovering antiquity through the pioneering studies of Jinsai, and Sorai, thus enabling the Japanese to surpass the Song scholars (復古之士如伊氏荻氏者, 劫劫相繼, 而興聖人之道, 煥然於我東方 蓋非宋元諸子所能及). This had led to the “Ancient Medical Prescriptions” 古醫方 revival under the leadership of Nagoya Ken'i, Gotō Konzan, Kagawa Shūan, and others. Most recently Nakanishi Shinsai 中西深齋 (1724–1803) claimed he had recovered much of the ancient practices in the Shanghan lun. A classic of medicine from China, lost there, was salvaged in Japan.61
There were many in Edo who disagreed with these radical views, which came principally from Kyoto scholar–physicians. Based on their exceptional collection of rare Chinese medical and classical books, the Taki family and their students in Edo, for example, took a more eclectic position (折衷學) and rejected the more strident claims coming from Nakagawa Kozan and Asada Sōhaku. The Taki family patronized medical scholars who annotated the Huangdi neijing as well as texts associated with the Shanghan lun, which they studied using evidential techniques 考證方法. Their goal was to present a cumulative set of notes 注疏 about the medical classics, which would provide all sides of the issues and become a comprehensive sourcebook.62
Many others remained loyal to the Song-Jin-Yuan Ming tradition of “latter day medical learning” 後世派, which stressed the Suwen and Lingshu and honored the followers of Zhu Zhenheng, known in China and Japan as “Old-man Danxi” 丹溪翁 and his school as “Danxi xue” 丹溪學. This tradition had been dominant in Japan before 1600. For example, Oka Keian 岡敬安 prepared a scathing account in 1831 of the “Ancient Learning” physicians as fraudulent transmitters of the Shanghan lun. It was also published widely in Japan, including bookstores such as Kichinoya Nibei 吉野屋二兵衛 in Edo, by Suwaraya Mohei 須原屋茂兵衛 in Kyoto, and Kawachiya Mokubei 河內屋木兵衛 in Osaka. According to Keian, the followers of Nagoya Gen'i 名古屋玄医, Yoshimasa Tōdō 吉益東洞 and Gotō Konzan 後藤良山 had propagated their ancient schools as single-minded factions of ancient medicine and never properly understood the larger problems in dealing with the long corrupted versions of Zhang Zhongjing's teachings (雖言尊仲景, 其實冤仲景. 雖註家多, 而不足一一辨之於筆).63
Although he praised Japanese scholars (本邦註家比異邦, 則甚賢於彼也, 遠矣), Keian also praised a book on warm factor illnesses entitled Wenyi lun 温疫論 by Wu Youxing 吳有性 (欣慕, 1582?–1652). It argued unclassically that there were “deviant qi (liqi 厲氣)” specific to each of certain illnesses. This claim had influenced Yoshimasa Tōdō's claim that all illnesses were caused by a specific poison (萬病一毒說). Indeed, in contrast to the ancient medicine physicians, Keian stressed that medical learning was universal and not limited to just famous doctors in China (醫道之一端也. 其唯扁倉哉. 善醫者皆能知之). For Keian, the medical classics provided scholars and physicians with a set of general patterns for the application of yin-yang, the five phases, and the system of circulation tracts (jingluo 經絡). They could use these to understand the human body and its susceptibility to illness, defined as a loss of harmony in the body's operations.64
Oka Keian's sinophilia enabled him to understand more about Ming-Qing medicine than the Tokugawa's ideologically grounded “ancient medical learning” radicals, who fancied themselves superior in reviving a speculative ancient tradition that would be soon be challenged by Western medicine.65 In Oka's view, the radical philologists had ironically betrayed their own evidential goals by unwittingly straying into an interpretive quagmire. Writing in the late Ming, for example, Wu Youxing experienced the devastating late Ming epidemics and recognized the inadequacy of cold damage doctrine. Classical doctrines saw pathogenic agents (邪, 毒) as types of qi that invaded primarily through the skin and disrupted the body's own processes. In his Treatise on Heat Factor Epidemic Disorders (Wenyi lun 溫疫論), completed circa 1642, Wu conjectured that heat factor disorders, unlike the rest, were due to “deviant qi” (liqi 厲氣) entering through the nose and mouth that were specific to each disorder—not just unseasonable weather.
This argument opened up a new set of alternative pathologies that few physicians in China or Japan took seriously. Japanese still subsumed heat factor illness 溫疫病 under cold factor 傷寒 categories. Due to high mortality rates in late Ming epidemics in the Yangzi delta, Fang Youzhi and Yu Chang also questioned Song and Jin-Yuan views of medical therapy. In 1739, the Qianlong emperor had already authorized compilation of the Golden Mirror for Orthodox Physicians (御纂醫宗金鑑 Yuzuan Yizong jinjian), which included annotations of Zhang Zhongjing's Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders in southern medical editions by Yu Chang and others. It was published in 1743 as the standard textbook for students in the Palace Medical Service.66
In the midst of these eighteenth century controversies, however, the heat factor tradition grew increasingly prominent among all the medical traditions in Qing China. Yangzi delta scholar physicians and hereditary doctors turned away from cold damage 傷寒 formula treatments 方法 for all illnesses. The final shift from a universal medical doctrine based on Jin-Yuan cold damage therapy 傷寒方法 to regional medical traditions dealing with hot factor 溫熱 epidemic diseases 南方溫疫病 in the south or northern cold disorders 北方傷寒病 began in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A fully independent medical tradition associated with heat factor therapies emerged in the nineteenth century when lower Yangzi valley physicians assembled a putative heat factor tradition from scattered earlier writings.67
Meanwhile, a few Japanese enthusiasts increasingly turned to Dutch Learning and European medicine in the early nineteenth century to better understand the heat factor illnesses they associated with the first cholera pandemic transmitted from India to Japan in the 1820s. In his Netsubyō shiki 熱病指揮, Obata Shizan 小畑詩山 (1794–1875), for example, attacked the “Ancient Remedies Group” 古方家 for their blind loyalty to ancient medicine when it was clear that heat factor illnesses 溫疫病, which were thought to be similar to cholera, now posed a threat that ancient remedies alone could not cope with. How “pathogens” could transmit their fever-producing deviant qi (liqi 厲氣) into the body was understandable only if the priority was placed on carefully examining how heat factor illnesses were actually transmitted. Obata also cited Wu Youxing and Dutch medicine for his claims that early modern epidemics were transmitted diseases 傳染病 and not simply cold factor illnesses sent by Heaven as moral retribution (天欲罰其罪, 以邪氣诫之. 人生之愚, 素不曉之. 徒歸之於天命, 豈可不歎哉). For the most part, however, the Japanese “Ancient Medicine” group was so caught up with “returning to the ancients” 復古 and their specific prescriptive medical formulas that they overlooked the regional character of heat-factor illnesses, which Ming-Qing physicians increasingly focused on to cure the semi-tropical fevers 熱帶瘟疫病 and other febrile disease symptoms common in South China. Instead of dealing with what the Dutch called “cholera,” they focused on the traditional systems and cures associated with the ancient illness known as huoluan 霍亂.68
The Spread of Qing Learning 清學 in Japan
The ecumenism of some Japanese medical scholars such as Oka Keian and Obata Shizan was also evident in Japanese studies of the Confucian Classics. Not every Sinophile in Japan was a closet Sinophobe. From a family of doctors, Ōta Kinjō 大田 錦城 (1765–1825), for example, set out east as a young man from his home in Kaga 加賀 (along the Sea of Japan) for Edo to study the Confucian Classics. When he began publishing his classical scholarship in the early part of the nineteenth century, Ōta he revealed his debt to the distinguished members of the eighteenth century “eclectic group” (setchū gakusha 折衷學者) of Chinese classical learning, such as the Kanbun masters Minagawa Kien and Yamamoto Hokuzan. Ōta was clearly aware of his role in the development of kōshō gaku 考證學 in the late Tokugawa era. Both Minakawa and Yamamoto, along with Inoue Kinga 井上金峨 (1732–84), also from a family of traditional physicians, were considered by later scholars as the founders of the less dogmatic classical currents that are associated with the “Eclectics,” and hence the transmitters of eighteenth century Qing classical studies to Japan.69
The debate over eclecticism 折衷 versus sectarianism 門戶之見 was a common characteristic of both Qing literati and Tokugawa classical scholars in the early nineteenth century. The difference was the political context. During the Qianlong reign, the Qing dynasty had successfully balanced the demands of advocates of Han Learning and the competing views of champions of Song Learning. During the Kansei 寬政 reign period (1789–1800), however, the Tokugawa state became a key supporter of Song Learning over its rivals, especially the ancient learning of Ogyū Sorai, Itō Jinsai and their followers, leaving the eclectic scholars on the defensive and subject to the charge of official heterodoxy. Curiously, the Tokugawa took no action against the “ancient learning” doctors, although Matsudaira Sadanobu ridiculed both the Confucian teachings of Ogyū Sorai and the medical teachings of Yoshimasa Tōdō, who always advocated a “good flushing out of everything” (lit., “bringing down” 下法).70
Moreover, Ōta Kinjō did not share earlier fears of the Manchu Qing regime. In an essay published in 1852, long after his death, entitled “Min-Shin kakumei ron” 明清 革命論 (On the change in dynasty from Ming to Qing), Ōta concluded that the Qing had successfully replaced the decadent Ming because of the Manchu's moral aura. It had nothing to do with Heaven's mandate 天命. Literati factionalism (黨禍) had so debilitated the Ming that it had lost its mandate to rule. The ineptitude of the last Ming rulers, according to Ōta, also contrasted sharply with the rule of the Manchus, which equaled and in some aspects excelled in virtue that of their Han forbears (清祖宗, 雖出夷狄, 其功德與漢族唐宗無異. 而其重道尊德, 則有過焉. 是故開二百年之太平, 而學問文物之盛, 有超於前古. 非北魏若金元之所能及也).
Ōta added, moreover, that the recent preeminence of China on the Asian continent was due to the Han and other peoples building a solid government together. The ancient Classics belittled barbarian peoples, but now it was clear to Kinjō that neither the Duke of Zhou 周公 nor Confucius had respected such views. What led to empire was exemplary behavior, not origins inside China. “Indeed there is no point in insisting on the difference between Han and other peoples, nor between the celestial and merely human” (天命... 唯有德者得之, 而無德者喪之. 則要可論其德如何也已. 華夷天人之辨, 措而不講, 亦可矣).71
Conclusions: Premodern Appropriations of “China”
Much has been made of the contributions of Dutch Learning (蘭學) to Japanese modernity during the Tokugawa period. It was important among samurai elites in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but was not sufficient to touch off the sort of educational, classical, and medical changes that we have outlined above. Indeed, the concrete—as opposed to rhetorical—advantages that Dutch Learning provided during the Tokugawa-Meiji transition remain undocumented. The question should be revisited.72
For example, before 1894, Japan had imported many European books on science that had been translated in China after the Japanese expelled the Jesuits for their meddling in the sixteenth century civil wars there. Chinese translations of Euclid's geometry and Tychonic astronomy, for example, had made their way to Tokugawa Japan. Both the late Ming collectanea Works on Calendrical Studies of the Chongzhen Reign (Chongzhen lishu 崇禎曆書) and the Kangxi era Compendium of Observational and Computational Astronomy (Lixiang kaocheng 曆象考成) arrived in Japan via the Ningbo-Nagasaki trade after the 1720s, as well as the Qianlong follow-up (曆象考成後編). The Japanese also avidly imported physics, chemistry, and botany books from Europe via the Dutch trading enclave in Nagasaki harbor in the early nineteenth century.73
In addition, the importance of nineteenth century translations on science prepared under the auspices of Protestant missionaries in the treaty ports and others at the London Missionary Society's Inkstone Press in Shanghai was quickly recognized by the Meiji government. Prominent translations into Chinese of works dealing with symbolic algebra, calculus, Newtonian mechanics, and modern astronomy quickly led to Japanese editions and Japanese translations of these works. Dr. Daniel Jerome Macgowan's(瑪高溫, 1814–1893) 1851 Philosophical Almanac (Bowu tongshu 博物通書), for instance, had a Japanese edition, and Dr. Benjamin Hobson's (合信, 1816–1873) 1855 Treatise of Natural Philosophy (Bowu xinbian 博物新編) from the Guangzhou Hospital came out as a Japanese edition in 1859, for instance. Four other of Hobson's medical works from 1851–58 quickly came out in Japan from 1858 to 1864.
Japan's overwhelming triumph in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 prompted most Chinese, Japanese, and Euro-American accounts since 1895 simply to assume that Dutch Learning gave Tokugawa Japan a head start over the Qing dynasty in the eighteenth century.74 It is time to revise this tired narrative of the rise of “modern” Japan and the decline of “imperial” China and look for new reasons for why Japan (本邦––東方) and China (異邦––西土) as mutually independent East Asian states continued to influence each other. The tributary system tells us very little about Sino-Japanese relations after 1600. We also need to extricate eighteenth century Edo thinkers from the anachronistic discourses of European and American modernity. Sino-Japanese relations before 1850 have been refracted through the Meiji era and Dutch Learning in Japan and through the First Sino-Japanese War in China. If we can modulate these refractions, then we will rediscover early modern Japanese social, educational, and medical discourses of their own context. There we find that China played an influential role as the “other country” (異國) in Japan's imagination just as it did in Europe's dreamscape of eighteenth century China.75
We know, for example, that Aizawa Seishisai's 会沢正志斎 (1782–1863) New Theses 新論 in 1825 synthesized Confucian and nativist rationales for claiming Japanese superiority as a new Middle Kingdom 中國. Although this view shifted in conception from a universal empire (tenka 天下) to a nation–state (kokka 國家)in Japan much earlier than in China, Aizawa remained a scholar of the Chinese classics and he wrote his Theses in classical Chinese with terms derived from Chinese sources. The Tokugawa claim that Japan had surpassed the Manchu Qing dynasty was common but not yet dominant in the early nineteenth century. Those who now attacked the Westerners as barbarians devoid of virtue, to be militarily expelled, such as Aizawa and the Mito 水戶 scholars, remained Tokugawa Confucians who still idealized Chinese civilization.76
We have seen that Tokugawa Confucians and physicians tried to detach classical learning and ancient medicine from China and make it Japanese. Scholars such as Asami Keisai saw the preceding Ashikaga era as an extreme case, which had wrongly subordinated Japan to China. Asami and others claimed that the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu 足利義満 (1358–1408) had usurped imperial authority when he adopted the title of “King of Japan” (日本國王) in diplomatic correspondence with the Ming. Similarly, Rai San'yō 頼山陽 (1780–1832) attacked Arai Hakuseki for convincing the Tokugawa shogun in the eighteenth century to also assume the title of “King of Japan” in diplomatic relations with Korea between 1710 and 1717. Rai San'yō regarded the authority of the royal throne as absolute. It was equally important to honor those shoguns appointed by the emperor over those who were not.77
From these examples, we see that Chinese learning had different meanings in the warrior society of Japan and in China. Moreover, Japanese reinterpreted the textual centrality of Chinese classics, seeing themselves as the true classicists. A China conquered and ruled by non-Chinese was no longer central. Japanese could claim they were the “second Rome” in East Asia—but only for domestic consumption.
The appropriation of Confucian repertoires since 1850 has depended for its legitimacy on the pro-modern or anti-modern uses of such techniques. The genealogies of “conservatisms” versus “progressivisms” in Japanese nation-building played out in light of Meiji national identity and socio-political programs. Japanese appropriations of the Confucian classical repertoire are hybrids that tempered the state's universalistic ideals with native rituals and customs. Different understandings of social hierarchy also influenced the processes of sinification or Confucianization. Although Tokugawa civil examinations began belatedly in the late eighteenth century as the warrior ideal waned in Japan, that ideal limited the full impact of the civilian ideals of humanism and moral governance.
In the eighteenth century both Japan and China co-existed peacefully, followed by almost another century of peace afterwards. In Japan, many had negative views of China, but the Sinophobes never gained the upper hand until the Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895, which was fought over Korea and led to an unexpectedly quick and decisive victory for Meiji Japan. Moreover, few Sinophobes knew no Chinese at all. The Sinophiles were not purists either. Many hoped to repossess the Chinese heritage in the name of Japan.
Perhaps the roots of Japan's invasions of China in the twentieth century lie in the rise of Japanese Sinophobia, but it is more likely that the late nineteenth century produced new global and domestic conditions that allowed nationalism and fascism to take precedence over earlier cultural and linguistic solidarity between Chinese and Japanese. The Japanese viewed the Chinese from afar in the eighteenth century with combined admiration, jealousy, and fear. China's scale was always beyond Japan's reach. But China's language, values, and institutions were still worthy of emulation and adaptation in a Japan moving from a decentralized warrior society to an increasingly centralized civil order. In the eighteenth century, Japan changed faster and more dramatically than China. Such efforts to emulate and master China provided the first steps toward later efforts by the Japanese to emulate and master Europe.
Elman (2007), 29–56.
Kikuchi (1979), 154–161.
See “Denkyō taishi nyū Tōchō” (1773).
Collcutt (1981), and Pollack (1986), 189. Compare Boot (1982), 83–85. Boot acknowledges the impact of Korean Confucianism in Japan, but stresses more the continuity between Ashikaga-Muromachi 足利室町 Buddhist-Confucians 禪儒 and Tokugawa classicists 儒家 in the rise of orthodox Zhu Xi learning 朱子學 in Japan.
Mizuno (2003), 136–137.
Yamaga (1970), 333.
See Asami (1980), Volume 31, 416–417. See the translation in de Bary et al. (2005), Volume 2, 91–94. See also Satō (1980), Volume 31, 420–425. See the translation in de Bary et al. (2005), Volume 2, 96–98.
Koyasu (1998), 75.
Elisonas (1991a), 297–300.
Norinaga (1968), Vol. 18, 405.
Wakabayashi (1986), 28–29.
Nakamura (1941), 701–729.
See the Tokugawa Kanbun textbooks collected in Yoshikawa et al. (1979–1981), Volumes 1–6. These grammatical divisions derived from Song-Ming classical scholarship.
On Norinaga's knowledge of Kanpō, see Motoori Norinaga jiten (2001), 198–200.
See Ooms (1996).
See Ikegami (2005).
Pastreich (1999): 39–49.
See Minagawa (1798, 1876), Yamamoto (circa 1818). More work needs be done to reconstruct the grammatical and syntactical structures of the Chinese language that these pioneering Japanese Kanbun textbooks presented. See note 24 above.
Wakabayashi (1986), 22–27.
Elman (2002), 158–182.
I am currently reconsidering the alleged Japanese rediscovery of Huang Kan's 皇侃 (488–545) Lunyu yishu 論語義疏 and its late eighteenth century transmission to China. It had been lost in China since the Southern Song dynasty.
For the best recent historical account in Japanese, see Ishida (1992).
Janneta (2007), 103–105.
See Inooka (n.d.), which focuses on mastering the language first (文例文法之所在) to get to the meaning (義理). For historical background, see Yamada (1999).
Sivin (1993), 198–199. Sivin makes the point that in traditional Chinese medicine there was no split between theory and practice like the one that began in the early Middle Ages in Europe. See also Otsuka (1976), 323.
Zhang's original book was called the Shanghan zabing lun, but it was divided into three books, two of which, Shanghan lun and Jingui yaolue 金匱要略 (Canon of the Gold Casket and Jade Cases), were widely used from the Northern Song on.
See Sorai sensei Somon hyō (1766), 9a–9b.
See Dazai (1804).
See Yamada Seichin (1779), 4a.
Nakagawa (n.d.), 1b. This manuscript is held in the Fujikawa Bunko 富士川文庫 at Kyoto University, but it may be a hand-copy of a pirated edition. My thanks to a reviewer for this information.
Nakagawa (n.d.), 19b–20a.
Nakagawa (n.d.), 21b–22a.
Asada (1845/1847), 1a–1b.
See Oka (1831), “Shōkan ron ketsugi ryakusetsu” 傷寒論闕疑略説, C.12a–24a.
Oka (1831), C.24b–35b.
Beukers (2000), 103–110.
See Hanson (2008). Hanson's argues that this was part of a movement toward regional identities that ignored the universal claims of the central government.
See Obata (1837), 1a–24a. See also Yamakawa (1857), “Fanli” 凡例,1a–3b. For discussion of late Qing medical exchanges between China and Japan, see Liang Yongxuan and Mayanagi Makoto (2005): 25–49. Compare Janneta (1987), and Cunningham (2002): 13–34, who questions “the continuous identity of past diseases with modern diseases,” such as the common claim that huoluan in China was the equivalent of “cholera.”
Nakamura (1941), 709–11.
See Matsudaira (1983): 20–48, especially 34–35.
Ōta (1852), 25b–26b.
Compare Elman (2003b): 283–326.
Steben (2000): 29–40.
Wakabayashi (1986), 9, 17–18.
This article is dedicated to Nathan Sivin for his contributions to the History of Science and Medicine in China. Unfortunately, I was unable to present it at the Johns Hopkins University sessions in July 2008 honoring Professor Sivin or include it in the forthcoming Asia Major festschrift in his honor. I am pleased to present it in EASTS, and I thank him for his comments and suggestions for improvement. I also thank the EASTS reviewers for their critical remarks. Interested readers should also refer to the double-issue festschrift for Professor Sivin presented in Chinese Science, Volumes 12 (1995) and 13 (1996). See: <http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/uni/ans/eastm/back/csbigcont.htm#Chinese%20Science%20Number%2012%20%281995%29>