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Unformatted text preview: fluenced by the School of National Learning,
was belief in Japan as a sacred, divine land. Rejecting the view of Japanese Sinophiles that China was the great Middle Kingdom of the world,
the later Mito scholars—like Yamaga Sokò and some others earlier in the
Tokugawa period—claimed that status for Japan. But these scholars went
far beyond Sokò and the others to claim both a geographical and cultural superiority for Japan that made it the veritable beacon and light of
the world. In the words of Aizawa Seishisai in New Proposals:
Our divine Land is where the sun rises and where the primordial energy originates. The heirs of the Great Sun have occupied the Imperial Throne from
generation to generation without change from time immemorial. Japan’s position at the vertex of the earth makes it the standard for the nations of the
world. Indeed, it casts its light over the world, and the distance which the
resplendent imperial influence reaches knows no limit. Today, the alien barbarians of the West, the lowly organs of the legs and feet of the world, are Heterodox Trends 233 dashing about across the seas, trampling other countries underfoot, and
daring, with their squinting eyes and limping feet, to override the noble
nations. What manner of arrogance is this!21 The later Mito scholars, in addition to advocating a policy of forcibly
expelling the Western barbarians ( jòi), also called upon Japanese everywhere to recognize Japan’s sacred character as a nation and, above all, to
revere its godlike emperor. Here we see the stirring up of a spirit of
extreme reverence for the emperor that was to inspire the imperial loyalists who finally overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate later in the century
and that was received as an article of faith by the architects of a modern
Although reverence for the emperor (sonnò) became a loyalist rallying
cry against the Tokugawa in the 1850s and 1860s, it was not so used by
Aizawa Seishisai and the later Mito scholars of the 1820s. Seishi...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13