Academician[ edit ] Razan developed a practical blending of Shinto and Confucian beliefs and practices. In particular, he argued that Shinto was a provisional and local form of Confucian ideas, enabling a Confucian interpretation of Shinto shrine rituals. This institution stood at the apex of the country-wide educational and training system which was created and maintained by the Tokugawa shogunate. Razan had the honorific title Daigaku-no-kami , which became hereditary in his family. Daigaku-no-kami, in the context of the Tokugawa shogunate hierarchy, effectively translates as "Head of the State University.
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Hayashi Razan was born and raised in Kyoto as the scion of a family of samurai turned urban merchants. He was sent as a child to study at Kenninji, a Zen temple, but he resisted suggestions that he become a priest. Instead, from his mid-teens he committed himself to the study of Confucianism and Chinese secular learning. He began his career as a Confucian in at the age of twenty-one by conducting public lectures on the Analects of Confucius as explicated by the Chinese Song Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi.
In this manner Razan sought to establish Zhu Xi Neo-Confucianism as a public teaching independent of both the hermetic traditions of medieval scholarship and the Zen-accented Confucianism that flourished in the major Zen temples of the Muromachi period. In he came to the attention of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, and in he entered the service of the shogun. Earlier military rulers had employed monks to draft legislation and handle other government matters requiring erudition or writing skills beyond the ordinary.
These conditions remained in effect for the duration of his employment, which continued until his death fifty years later. But as the conditions of his employment suggest, Razan was taken into service because of his general erudition rather than because of any particular expertise in Neo-Confucianism, and his official duties had little to do with the spread of Confucian teachings.
Together with the Buddhist priests in shogunal employ, he oversaw the shogunal library, drafted diplomatic correspondence between the Tokugawa and the rulers of other countries, and participated in the drafting of laws and the compilation of the genealogical records of shogunal vassals. Of more relevance to his background as a Confucian scholar, Razan established a private school and shrine to Confucius that eventually received shogunal support, although not on the scale of shogunal patronage of various Buddhist institutions.
However, by and large Razan was more noted for his wide-ranging knowledge than for the originality or compelling nature of his interpretation of Confucianism. But his successors did not continue his efforts. At the same time, however, he was condemned by many other Tokugawa Confucians for his readiness to compromise his principles in the process of winning a place for himself.
Others objected to the precedent he established for the treatment of the Confucian as a professional scholar differentiated from and subordinate to those responsible for the actual business of government.
In the eyes of many Tokugawa Confucians, the career pattern for the Confucian scholar pioneered by Razan contravened the traditional ideal of the Confucian playing a central role in society and thereby bringing his education and moral rectitude to bear on the transformation of society. See Also Confucianism in Japan. Bibliography Although it is not widely available, W. Kate Wildman Nakai and Encyclopedia of Religion.
Hayashi Razan (1583–1657)