This research meeting was the last event of Kaken’s “Establishing a Next Generation Center for the Study of East Asian Classics.” It was organized into four sections, “early period,” “classical period,” “medieval period” and “early modern period,” proceeding in the form of a proposed topic and discussion for each section. The presenters were Professors David Lurie and Yada Tsutomu for the Early Period, Professors Sasaki Takahiro and Tamura Takashi for the Classical Period, Professors Kanazawa Hideyuki and Tokumori Makoto for the Medieval Period, and Professors Michisaka Akihiro and Saitō Mareshi for the early modern period. After all the sessions had finished, Dr. Baba Sayuri became the moderator for a general discussion.
Graduate student participants decided which sessions they were responsible for and wrote reports for those sections. The following is a publication of the participants’ reports along with a report summarizing the discussions that day. In addition, the following is only a portion of the reports, and there were also a few changes made in the wording at the time of publication.
Session I: The Early Period
Professor Lurie’s topic was about the spread of writing in early Japan. Professor Lurie pointed out that, in contrast to the general idea that writing spread in a form proportional to the progress of the ages, based on the description of writing in the Nihon shoki, archeology shows that writing rapidly expanded around the middle of the seventh century. Furthermore, he mentioned that, referring to the conditions of spreading booklets in premodern Europe and the Middle East, the actual spread of writing was shown by archeology to be explosive. And, similar to how it is necessary for the three conditions of motive, means, and opportunity to be met when identifying a criminal in a criminal drama, Professor Lurie argued that the spread of writing in early Japan should be thought as occurring when there were not only means and opportunity, but also motive.
In regards to research on inscription in the early period, Professor Yada talked about problems in current research and the difficulties in thinking about an overview in the history of inscription. First, as an issue in research, he pointed out that books such the Kojiki, Nihon shoki, and the Man’yōshū are regarded as the core of textual materials. Professor Yada stated that we should not only privilege books that were created with the expectations of lasting preservation, but it is necessary for a comprehensive understanding to include “consummable writing” that were discarded once their purpose was fulfilled, such as mokkan. Next, as problems in thinking about an overall history of writing that perceives a continuity between Japan’s early period and later ages, he pointed out the difficulty in thinking of hentai kanbun in the early period as similar to hentai kanbun from the classical period onward, which was written in accordance to the rules of kanbun, and the difficulty in explaining the inevitability of a change from man’yōgana to hiragana. On the basis of that, regarding the change from man’yōgana to hiragana, he stated that external factors should be taken into account such as the use of paper instead of mokkan.
During the discussion, there was talk about how rationality is not necessarily a decisive motive in the history of writing, and that it can be considered as an indication of the strength of the standardization of writing. Furthermore, in the Q&A portion, both professors mentioned the necessity of considering the context under which texts are made and genre when thinking about literacy and how attention should be paid to not only the expansion of the literate class, but also the use of social evaluation with regards to the equalization of literacy levels and having advanced literacy.
Participant Report: Sekiya Yuichi (Joint Research Fellow, Hokkaidō University)
Both Lurie and Yada are critical of a description of the history of writing that puts ancient literature at the opposite end of modern Japanese and assumes a gradual and unilateral progression from the former to the latter. This is because there is a clear “turning point” in the use of writing in the Japanese archipelago, and that “leap” must be assumed even in the establishment of hiragana. As everyone at the presentation pointed out, the way in which letters are written cannot be explained only by rationality, but has a conservative property that is strongly bound by norms. This is paradoxical at first glance but, because of this conservatism, the rare changes in written expression are abrupt rather than gradual. Even today to some extent, people who use writing to communicate to other people are conscious of the “norms” shared with others. Therefore, even if the “norm” is unilaterally changed at the turn of an era, most people will follow it. (An example of this is the revision and abolition of kyūjitai and kyūkana during the postwar Japanese language reform.) In the Q&A, Lurie referred to Higashino Haruyuki’s research, and gave an example of the rapid change at the beginning of the eighth century in the mokkan style of writing from Six Dynasties to early Tang style. As Saitō Mareshi concluded, the act of recording in the first place possesses a sense of “otherness” in contrast to a living people, and this “other” is not limited to kanji, but writing in general is essentially an “other” to spoken language. Language acquisition is physical in nature, and changes are likely to be gradual as generations of its speakers change. In contrast, the “other” that is writing and the history of written expression, like social changes, show a more complex and irregular development. Therefore, to regard writing and written expression as subordinate to spoken language is incorrect.
Participant Report: Wu Xi (PhD Student, University of Tokyo)
My research is on the formation of zhiguai xioashuo志怪小説during Six Dynasties China, but my research methods often consider it from a historical perspective. Research on xiaoshuo also faces a difficult situation similar to what Professor Yada points out about research on the history of early Japanese writing, where there is not yet a comprehensive study and, although it can be viewed as “continuous,” in reality there is the question of how to connect the xiaoshuo from before the Tang period, which has gaps, with the development of xiaoshuo after the Tang period. When it comes to sociohistorical methods, we attach importance to the element that Lurie calls “opportunity,” and it becomes easy to overlook the idiosyncrasies of individual works, often because we tend to focus on the characteristics of xiaoshuo as a genre. At this time, although there were literary formats that were most suitable for expressing the author’s intent outside of xiaoshuo, if we continue asking about “motives,” such as why xiaoshuo was chosen and, if its primary role is to convey “history,” why weave into the content subject matter that is not “practical,” like poetry and prose, it becomes possible to examine the relationship between individual works and the undulating development of xiaoshuo as a whole in a more detailed manner. Also, as to how to connect rifts in the characteristics of xiaoshuo, from Professor Yada’s suggestion that we must include not only about the internal factors, but also external factors in thinking about the birth of hiragana, I understood the importance of considering xiaoshuo not only as “literature,” but also as a mediating literary object that conveys changes in the collective nature of the “people” that created them.
Session II: The Classical Period
Professor Sasaki’s topic was on the categorization of manuscript lineages for the Tale of Genji and, along with verifying the effectiveness of their traditional categorization, he presented a new method for categorizing these manuscripts. First, Professor Sasaki touched upon the idea that Ikeda Kikan’s three categories of manuscripts, the Aobyōshi-bon, Kawachi-bon, and Beppon can be repled with two, the Kawachi-bon and beppon, and stated that if one changes the Aobyōshi-bon to the “Teika-bon,” then Ikeda’s three categories work without any issue. On top of that, he pointed out the necessity to arrange a category of beppon that only contains manuscripts that do not belong to either the Teika-bon or Kawachi-bon lineages, in particular the identification of older manuscripts from among beppon that predate the establishment of the Teika-bon and Kawachi-bon lineages. And while pointing out things such as the use of old hentaigana in the Iinumayama Enpukuji manuscripts, which are not found in the Teika or Kawachi lineages, and that there are multiple books categorized as beppon that use similar kana, he argued for paying attention to categories of hentaigana as a method for discerning older texts.
Professor Tamura took up three issues regarding writing in manuscripts of The Tale of Genji. The first is the differences in writing for each volume in one manuscript. He mentioned that, concerning how the iteration mark in hitobito 人々 is written and the decision to write it in either kanji or hiragana within the Ōshima-bon, he mentioned that there is a certain tendency in each volume on how to use it. The second is about the composition of chapters in konseibon 混成本 that are included in the Beppon lineage, and Tamura pointed out the possibility of discovering common trends in konseibon based on which chapters belong to which lineages. The third is about the writing of a chapter’s name. He stated that the change in the writing of a chapter’s name in the University of Tokyo General Library’s manuscript, such as 明石 to 赤石 for Akashi and 澪標 to 水衝石 for Miotsukushi, can also be found in woodblock print manuscripts and commentaries.
During the discussion, there was talk about how clarifying the text as read by its audience is indispensable in considering the reception of a work and the importance of statistical thinking when determining whether inconsistencies in writing were based on an individual’s handwriting or based on standards of writing practice at that time. There were also topics such as the question of who composed these manuscripts, and the possibility that arbitrary rewriting occurred during transcription.
Participant Report: Arthur Defrance (Research student, École pratique des hautes études)
While I do not have the ability to discuss in detail the results of research on writing, or the possibilities of putting literary research to practical use, I want to somewhat attempt such an evaluation. One of the major merits of research on writing is that such research has the function of highlighting the historical nature of “text.” Through this, a text that is often thought of as an unwavering and invariant “classic” or “canonical” can be understood as being born amidst some kind of material flow, thereby collapsing the dominance of “text” as an abstract concept and allowing for understanding the diversity of texts as material objects.
Today’s two presentations on The Tale of Genji are based on such a point of view, and provide new perspectives about The Tale of Genji, which is a classic among the classics, giving the opportunity to rethink the established image of the Genji. Moreover, it can be said that the contents of the two presentations complement each other. Professor Sasaki Takahiro’s presentation, in a nutshell, proposes a reconsideration of how Genji manuscripts are classified based on a comparative study of hentaigana between manuscripts, while Professor Tamura Takashi’s presentation is a study that focuses on the different uses of kanji and hentaigana, which is anticipated to make a significant contribution to manuscript research from here on. In a sense, it can be said that there are two directions: a challenge to manuscript scholarship’s existing paradigm, and the construction of a new paradigm for the future classification process.
There is no doubt that the two presentations are abundant in content, and that there is also much to be gained for us as researchers. The first point made is that literary works that we as researchers have in mind are only one part of literacy as a whole, and it becomes clear that the idea of viewing it as a part that has no connections with its surroundings is both unscholarly and a fiction for the sake of convenience. As such, literary works cannot be repositioned as a part of literacy without particular knowledge that comes from outside the scope of literature. That knowledge, for example, is the historical background that enables the critique of historical records by historians and information on the circumstances of literacy. Needless to say, knowledge regarding writing can be the basis for this. Finally, for those who tend to be trapped in a literary framework, it is necessary for us to have a crosscutting concept that spans two areas: literature and literacy. This is because, without such a comprehensive concept, it is easy to create a gap between the two fields, and on the other hand is liable to make it difficult to use results obtained from one field in another. For this reason, I think that concepts such as “literary texts,” which have been popular in Japanese academia for several years, are extremely valuable tools in that they enable us to faithfully understand texts as being born in specific contexts.
Participant Report: Kitagawahara Erin (PhD Student, University of Tokyo)
Since I was interested in Professor Sasaki’s point that the illustrated scrolls of The Tale of Genji, a national treasure which dates back to the Heian period, cannot be considered pure literature, I asked a question about that. Though Professor Sasaki responded with a laugh that he referred to the illustrated scrolls in order to impress that Saigyō’s Maboroshi chapter was more valuable, he emphasized the point that the kotobagaki 詞書within the media of the illustrated scrolls were of course just “excerpts” of the text we call The Tale of Genji. Even among the professor’s answer, which was rich with implication, the words that left the biggest impression were, “I think that scholars of the illustrated scrolls tend to focus on the pictures themselves. There should be more research that takes the body of the text as its main point.”
While research on Genji illustrated scrolls has been ongoing since the beginning of the Meiji period, considerations such as production time and process, and who conceived of them with whose perspective in mind are naturally made by analyzing visual information such as the composition of the drawing, motifs adopted, the calligraphy in the captions, and the decorative paper. Of course, there is also research that refers to the body of the text, but they leave the impression that more things can be seen regarding the generation of meaning in the visual text and the differences between visual and written text, such as how is the written text visualized, and what is illustrated and not illustrated.
To the best of my knowledge, studies that compared kotobagaki among various manuscripts are Nakamura Yoshio’s 1944 study, entitled “Captions in the Illustrated Genji Scrolls: Comparing the Original Manuscripts with Variants” (Art Studies No. 174) 「源氏物語絵巻詞書 附、原点諸本との異文校合」（『美術研究』一七四号）and Tamagami Takuya’s 1967 dissertation, “About the Pictures and Words of The Tale of Genji” (Women’s University Literature: National Literature Edition No. 19) 「源氏物語絵詞について」（『女子大文学 国文編』一九号）. As for Nakamura’s study, one fascinating point about it is that it was presented at the same time as the publication of Ikeda Kikan’s Completion of the Tale of Genji 源氏物語大成. In addition, Tamagami uses a methodology based on Ikeda’s Completion, otherwise based on the Aobyōshi-bon, which compares the kotobagaki in the illustrated scrolls with the Kawachi-bon or beppon in places where they not consistent with the Aobyōshi-bon. For example, when referring to the fragment of Usugumo, if there is a part in the illustrated scroll kotobagaki that does not match the Ōshima-bon, he records instances where that passage matches with the Kawachi-bon, or the beppon’s Yōmeike-bon or Hosaka-bon. On the other hand, even if a text is confirmed to be a variant of the Aobyōshi-bon, there is no particular mention when no matching text is found in other manuscripts. In other words, there are also large sections that are not elucidated with comparisons to the Ōshima-bon. Incidentally, even though articles about kotobagaki have appeared after the publication of the Genji monogatari beppon shūsei 源氏物語別本集成 began in 1989, there is not yet anything that is an extensive survey of kotobagaki as a whole in the illustrated scrolls and points out the relations between a particular lineage and beppon, or a specific manuscript.
In listening to the professors’ presentations at this seminar, I realized the problems with first comparing with the Aobyōshi-bon, which is considered the best version, and that there are things that spill out by comparing with texts further along in time. I feel that it is important not only to apply existing methodologies to texts, but also to return to texts and reexamine those methodologies.
Session III: The Medieval Period
In the Medieval session, the discussion about commentaries on the Nihon shoki mainly focused on Ichijō Kaneyoshi’s Nihon shoki sanso日本書紀纂疏 and Yoshida Kanetomo’s Nihon shoki jindai no maki shō日本書紀神代巻抄.
Professor Kanazawa stated that, in regards to a central issue surrounding commentaries on the Nihon shoki since the Heian period on how to read in Japanese a text that was written in kanbun, the Sanso adopts the attitude of reading the Nihon shoki as a text written in kanbun, whereas in Yoshida Kanetomo’s Jindai no maki shō, the “native writing” of the Age of the Gods is understood to have been changed into kanji, with that idea created by reversing the process of using kundoku to gloss kanbun texts. He argued that we could think of Jindai no maki shō’s concept of “native writing” as something inspired by Kūkai’s ideology.
Professor Tokumori showed first how the Sanso, besides annotating the Nihon shoki as a kanji narrative, used a method that elucidated the meaning of each narrative by being in accordance with Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. He then showed that the narrative of the Nihon shoki can be understood from three dimensions: the dimension of the image and form 形像, the dimension of Yin and Yang, and the dimension of “one mind” 一心 introduced in by Buddhist theory. Next, regarding the Jindai no maki shō, Tokumori argued that, while on the one it can be considered as having inherited the Sanso’s annotation style that elucidated the meaning of kanji expressions, it differs from the Sanso and understands the Nihon shoki’s narrative not as something that describes reality, but is reality itself. He stated that, regarding the relationship between the two commentaries, while the Nihon shoki’s narrative in the Sanso is seen as something that actualizes the Age of the Gods, the Jindai no maki shō learns from the Sanso the idea about the Age of the Gods as real, and understands the narrative as a reflection of that age.
During the discussion, there was confirmation about the idea that the Sanso presents the Age of the Gods as a world based in kanji in contrast to commentaries from the Heian period on that envisioned it as a world created by native Japanese words, and furthermore, the idea that the Jindai no maki shō mentions something like “native writing” that envisions a world of a higher order that subsumes kanji within it. In addition, problems of how to think about “native writing,” which is expressed using kanbun, and the position of Mikkyō and Siddham studies in the formation of Kanetomo’s ideology were discussed.
Participant Report: Takao Yūta (PhD Student, Hokkaidō University)
The foundation of Kanetomo’s outlook on “native writing” is thought to based on Shingon Buddhism’s views on language. This conclusion comes from the fact that one can notice the influences of Mikkyō and Siddham studies in Kanetomo’s statements, but it can also be found in a passage near the opening of Nihon shoki jindai no maki shō:
It is said that Shintō is the seed, Buddhism the flower and fruit, and writing the leaves and branches. If there is no writing, then the proper teachings of Buddhism cannot be actualized. For example, this is similar to how we know what kind of tree it is after its flowers have bloomed. If there are no flowers, fruit, branches, or leaves, then the seeds of Shintō also cannot be actualized. What emerges there as Buddhist law is Shintō here, therefore what returns to our country is the principle of fallen leaves returning as roots.
The passage above is what is called the Buddhist Flower Theory or the Root, Leaf and Flower Theory, where Japan’s Shintō, India’s Buddhism, and Chinese characters likened to the seed, flower, and leaves of a tree, and is an important part in unraveling Kanetomo’s view on writing while simultaneously explains the origins of Shintō.
The underlined part of the sentence serves as the basis that supports his views on writing. It seems natural at first glance to say that the idea the proper teachings of Buddhism do not appear if there is no writing, but in truth it is not. Generally in Buddhism, the Way of Things (Truth) cannot be expressed in words. Zen Buddhism, whose influence on Kanetomo has been pointed out, does not recognize the role of writing in achieving Enlightenment, as is known by the phrase, “not relying on words.” 不立文字 On the other hand, Shingon Buddhism teaches that language can reveal the Way of Things. It is better to think of Kanetomo’s views on writing in the line, “If there is no writing, then the proper teachings of Buddhism cannot be actualized,” as something based on Mikkyō’s views on language.
Next, I want to look at the following sentence from Kanetomo’s Nihon shoki jindai no maki shō:
Prince Shotoku said, “By way of Shintō the world becomes books, and time becomes its evidence. Within this world all things change, the seasons turn, Spring and Autumn come, the flowers bloom and the leaves scatter, and the truth of birth, age, sickness, and death—the fact that all these naturally manifest is because the world is one scroll of sacred text, the evidence of this being time.
Since “The truth of birth, age, sickness, and death” (The four forms of retribution?) is “naturally manifested,” while it is difficult to understand this just by the term “books,” it is easy to understand when viewed through Mikkyō’s viewpoint on language. All things are words because they can be classified and recognized as different from one another, and at the same time, because they embody the truth (the Law) of birth and death, all creation as writing is the realization of the dharma body. This is surely Shingon Buddhism (or the writing that makes up Shingon), and for Kanetomo this would have been “natural writing.” Since “the realm” 天地（ノ間） is ubiquitous with “all creation” 万物, we can call “the realm” “books.” 書籍 ［…］
Based on the above, Kaneyoshi and Kanetomo can be compared as follows:
Kaneyoshi: The narrative about the Age of the Gods presents a truth shared by the three religions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, and that is the development of the concept of “one mind.” 一心
Kanetomo: The reason why the Nihon shoki is a “sacred text” is because it is a book composed of “native writing,” which manifests the truth (“one mind”). Since the current Nihon shoki is one that Prince Shotoku transcribed character-by-character, the kanji in the Nihon shoki also becomes one with the Truth. Therefore, similar to understandings about the “ancients,” the idea that reality (the manifestation of one mind) can be established prior to the meaning of a word.
Professor Tokumori compares Kaneyoshi and Kanetomo, stating that, in contrast with Kaneyoshi who understands the narrative expressions in the Nihon shoki as something that reveals reality (that being the development and outflow of one mind) and made inquiries about how the Age of the Gods was expressed based on that, Kanetomo was pursuing an understanding of the Age of the Gods as reality. But couldn’t Kanetomo’s stance to seek narrative expression itself as a reality about the Age of the Gods, that Kaneyoshi grasped as a development of the concept one mind, be explained using through Mikkyō’s understanding of language?
Participant Report: Maeda Ryōtarō (MA Student, Hokkaidō University)
What I was interested in during this session’s discussion was the link between Kanetomo’s theory of “natural writing” and ideas about ancient words and writing predating the Early Modern period. Professor Kanazawa ended with an introduction of views about language and writing in Keichū’s Waji shōranshō and Motoori Norinaga’s Kojiki den that can be seen as the “continuation of the theory on ‘native writing,’” but, in addition, writings that advocated for “writing during the Age of the Gods,” as if they were connected to the idea about “natural writing (writing during the Age of the Gods)” supposed by Kanetomo in his commentary on the Nihon shoki and “sacred texts” that were composed with this in mind were actually created in the early modern period. Here I would like to take as an example books about writing during the Age of the Gods based on the Hotsuma tsutae ki 秀真政伝紀, which was completed during the An’ei era (1770s) ［…］
Kanetomo’s theory about “native writing” seeks a realm of voice and writing that is different from kanji and assumes it to be in the background of the Nihon shoki, whereas between the opposing poles of the Kojiki, where voice is depicted, and the Nihon shoki, where voice is not depicted, Norinaga seeks that realm of voice in the Kojiki. On the other hand, the Hotsuma tsutae ki can be said to have sought a world of voice that is neither in the Nihon shoki nor the Kojiki, and made it exist in reality as a “sacred text.” There might even be a part in the Hotsuma tsutae ki that can be positioned as an extension of the work so far that searches for the other side of what is written.
However, when compared with Kanetomo’s theory on “native writing,” there are of course strict differences. One of the clear differences is that hotsuma characters (although they are similar to the many primordial scripts created during the early modern period) were also phonetic characters that corresponded with the Japanese syllabary. Kanetomo envisioned “mative writing” as ideographic characters that had a one-to-one correspondence with kanji, and the number of characters was thought to be 153,600. By corresponding “native writing” with kanji, “the language of the gods” could be replaced by kanji through “native writing.” For Kanetomo, this was proof of the “unity between Shintō, Confucianism, and Buddhism.” 三教一致 (And the conscious effort to seek unity between the three religions was taken from Kaneyoshi’s Nihon shoki sanso.) On the other hand, unlike “native writing,” hotsuma characters have no correspondence with kanji. It seems that the difference in outlook on the world of kanji can be seen here.
I talked briefly above about the Hotsuma tsutae ki. Literature about writing during the Age of the Gods such as this have prospered since early modern Japan, and have had a hidden influence up until present day. However, during this session I started to think about points of commonality and departure between these texts and the ideas about writing and voice expressed by medieval commentators such as Kanetomo and Kaneyoshi, as well as early modern figures such as Keichū and Norinaga using “native writing” as my starting point. I entertained a vague notion that we can approach the world of script during the age of the gods in the early modern period, which was created during the height of emphasis on the Kojiki, from the perspective of issues about writing and voice that have continued since the medieval period.
Session IV: The Early Modern Period
Professor Michisaka’s topic focused on Poems on Night Sailing by Tsusaka Tōyō, who worked for the Tsu Province, and discussed how composing kanshi in Early Modern Japan is understood. Professor Michisaka stated that Poems is a book that explains to beginners how to compose poetry, and included things such as pointing out how it is not the case that all kanshi composed in China is good, and therefore should not be learned, cautioning against using Chinese-style expressions for the names of places in Japan, and explaining the distinctions between waka and kanshi. Michisaka stated that Tōyō stressed that kanshi poets, including the Chinese, receive the correct image, and that for Tōyō the composition of kanshi was a means of propogating Japan at the same time as it was a means of participating in the sphere of refined culture in East Asia.
Professor Saitō’s presentation was about finding the orientation of kanshi poetry during a time when poems that imitated the classical styles were being produced and Chinese pronunciation of characters was being learned in Early Modern Japan. Professor Saitō showed that the methods for imitating the classical style were not only used by the Ogyū Sorai School in early modern Japan, but also had been practiced since the Six Dynasties period in China. He stated that, because imitation of the classical styles is the practice of adding to the existing realm of poetry, imitative poems in early modern Japan that tried to pattern themselves after China were also poems “imitative of China.” Next, Professor Saitō discussed how the study of Chinese pronunciation in the Ogyū Sorai School was something that was understood along with the imitative style as pointing an orientation toward China and it was something that pursued an unchanging prosody, though it replaced actual pronunciations used in China at the time and lost actual sound. He mentioned that the Sorai School’s positioning toward an age long past and toward tones not spoken in their environment was perceived as groping for the origin of the world and, during such an occasion, by using written texts as intermediary they tried to find something unchanging in there.
During the discussion, there was confirmation about how composing kanshi cultivated the ability to use words, and how it was necessary to think about the poems that imitated the classics in a way that did not escape into fiction from reality. There were also topics such as the possibility that attitudes toward poetry differed between the cities and countryside, and questions about how to think about disparities between reality and the literati who gained knowledge through books.
Participant Report: Cheng Gaoya (PhD Student, Kyoto University)
The most interesting point after hearing Professor Michisaka’s presentation was the recognition of Tsusaka Tōyō’s kanshi poetry. He thought about arranging kanshi written by Japanese people and Chinese people side-by-side, emphasizing the rules for making good kanshi, and aimed for kanshi that conveyed Japan to others (i.e., East Asian intellectuals). There was also awareness that readers were not only Japanese, emphasizing that, in order to compose proper poems, one should use words accurately, such as using the correct characters or words. From that, I wondered about whether Japanese intellectuals assumed that there were readers outside of Japan (East Asian intellectuals) when they wrote in the literary style of kanbun, and if these writings in kanbun were conscious of China and being placed alongside Chinese literary works.
People belonging to the late Edo period School of Evidential Scholarship on Medical Texts, which I study, left behind many investigations into medical books written in kanbun. The School for Evidential Scholarship on Medical Texts was closely related to the Edo Period Confucian circles and held a unique position as doctors, but undoubtedly reached a level of scholarship on par with intellectuals. (Tsusaka Tōyō’s father, Fumikatsu, was also originally a doctor. Tōyō studied medicine in Nagoya from the age of fifteen, but after three years he gave up being a doctor and decided to become a Confucianist. This is a small example of the connection between Confucian circles and medicine at the time.) The writings from the School of Evidential Scholarship on Medical Texts were imported into China via activities by figures such as Yang Shoujing, and were soon highly acclaimed in China at the time. Moreover, their investigative research methods had a great impact on the development of the study and understanding of medical texts in China. The School’s studies of medical books were philological books that mainly focused on textual criticism, and therefore as literary works cannot represent Japan. However, the trend in Qing Dynasty studies of ancient texts used books as a medium, developing to a high degree in Japanese Confucian circles, and from their created the School of Evidential Scholarship on Medical Texts, which allowed the development of a unique literary criticism in the study of medical texts. The results of this were once more transmitted to China and influenced medical history there. (Although not strictly speaking, in China today their work is literary placed on the same bookshelf as many traditional Chinese medical books.) This kind of circulatory phenomenon in East Asia can be thought of as the Japanese transmitting Japanese academic methods through kanbun. This can be said to be an example of being able to transmit to East Asian intellectuals using kanbun, the writing method of East Asia. In the future, I would like to consider the writings of the School of Evidential Scholarship on Medical Texts, taking this way of thinking and research viewpoint into my own research.
I learned a lot from Professor Saitō’s presentation, but at the same time I realized a particular issue. As far as I know, among many Chinese students (researchers) including myself, because there are many materials about my field of study as well as many related writings in kanbun remaining in Japan, if you can read kanbun, it is believed you can do research using only that. However, the ideological setting of this field should not be ignored in any research. The two professors’ presentations in the Early Modern session were exactly discussions based on the philosophical background, and I knew that I could not think about exploring Edo period scholarship without touching upon the Sorai School. Though I look at medical references, I was very inspired as a researcher of late Edo period schools of evidential scholarship. In order to advance research from now on, I feel that studying connections to the history of thought is necessary.
Participant Report: Chang Lingyun (PhD Student, Kyoto University)
According to Nakai Sekizen’s thinking, “being versed in Chinese pronunciation” and “proficiency in poetic composition” are different. It was thought that those who understood Chinese sounds could not compose good poetry naturally. In Volume Eleven of the Tōdaishutsushiyūsho答大出子友書, Sekizen describes the teaching method as follows:
Sekizen on a normal day leads the novices, letting them read four poems from the Tang, Song and Ming periods, first recording the four tones. The works they make are sure to be easy to understand and have words or verses that go against the rules. If their writing loses form of composition, then they add, edit, or cut. Wait until after their practice has somewhat matured, then after their theory and style have deepened, by means of lavishly following predecessors, plagiarizing, and stealing, he makes a warning.
Touching upon this though-provoking pedagogy, it can be inferred that poetic composition was to make use of intellect and required intellectual productivity. A basic rule is to follow the voice of “a metered score.” In addition, things such as knowledge, talent, and cultivation (education) were all required. By reading the sutras and histories extensively, the cultivation explained here is a view that can be attained.
Following the professors’ ideas, poets in the Edo period were clearly of what was always read when composing kanshi. In other words, the kanshi that they wrote not only circulated among limited readers, but were also “shown” to readers from the entire kanji cultural sphere. Based on this awareness, they decided to write “correct” kanshi according to the rules of poetic composition established in China. The “correct” kanshi mentioned here means that the phonetics of the characters, their authentic precedents, and the emotional expression they contain are the same as genuine kanshi created in China. Such awareness is carefully expressed by Tsusaka Tōyō’s view in Poems on Night Sailing. As Professor Michisaka correctly pointed out, the so-called “correctness” is to “correctly understand the image of words: and “to express phenomena correctly.” Furthermore, seeking correct understanding and correct expression for Chinese kanshi is also an aspect of “correctness.”
Therefore, it was recognized that correct “tone” is an essential foundation in order not only to correctly understand “image” and “writing,” in kanshi, but also to compose “correct” poetry. In other words, attention should be paid to the correctness of a poem’s externality and internality. Based on this, it can be said that the poetry and music recorded in Nakai Sekizen’s Shiritsuchō is not intended for beginners, but is something that aims to standardize poetry and objectively pursue the “correctness” of poetry. Nakai would have thought that setting standards was the most important thing when composing poetry. In other words, the correctness of a poem’s “rules” also fully displayed one’s knowledge.
(Session Summaries and Editing by Tobita Hidenobu, PhD Student, University of Tokyo)