ASIA212Varley

The end result is a testament to the exceptionally

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Unformatted text preview: ale of Genji in the search for a true and original Japanese spirit untainted by those alien systems of thought and behavior, including Buddhism and Confucianism, that had been introduced to Japan from China during the previous thousand years (see the discussion of this in Chapter 1). Despite its inflammatory appeal to later imperial loyalists, the National Learning movement in its origins was not a radical or aberrant phenomenon at all but a logical development in Japanese intellectual history that owed much to the various schools of Tokugawa Confucianism. The forerunners of the movement, participating in the general upsurge in scholarship stimulated by Confucianism in the seventeenth century, undertook philological studies into the origins of the Japanese language that paved the way for the subsequent work of the two leading National Learning scholars of the eighteenth century, Kamo Mabuchi (1697–1769) and Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801). Kamo Mabuchi, the son of a functionary at a Shinto shrine who rose to become lecturer to the head of a branch family of the Tokugawa, was much taken with the Man’yòshû and asserted that the poems of this eighth-century anthology were imbued with the true spirit of the Japanese. He identified this spirit as one of pure naturalness, spontaneity, and manly vigor, and charged that the influx of Chinese culture into Japan had perverted it to a way of life, exemplified by the courtiers of the Heian period, that was both artificial and effeminate. Mabuchi urged people to compose poems in the manner of the Man’yòshû and thereby seek to recapture or “restore” the native temper of ancient times. As we have seen, restorationism—that is, the desire to return to an earlier, golden age in history—was also a strong sentiment among scholars of the Ancient Studies school, although some Sinophiles among them, like Ogyû Sorai, may have wished to revive only the conditions of ancient China. Kamo Mabuchi, on the other hand, insisted unequivocally that the golden age to be sought in the past was a Japanese age. Although he only met Kamo Mabuchi once, Motoori Norinaga claimed to be his...
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