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■ Nakae Toju - The Saint of Omi/ The First
Yang-Ming-ist in Japan
Nakae Toju was born a peasant farmer's son in 1608, which was eight years after the battle of Sekigahara. At the age of nine, he was adopted by his grandfather who served under the Yonago Clan and taken to Yonago (in present Tottori Prefecture) leaving his parents. When he was eleven years old, his family moved to Ozu in Shikoku according to their lord's dominion transfer. It was the time when Toju determined his course of life to accomplish his learning.
Diligent Toju taught his theory even to his peers. While doing so, he passed no single day without turning his thoughts toward his mother living lonely in his native village. He therefore made up his mind to resign his post and return home to be with her when he was twenty-seven. Many people who adored Toju's attractive personality also moved to the village on after another being eager to learn from him.
Making every effort to make his mother relieved, he further deepened his study together with his disciples (he called them "Doshi"*) and interacted with local villagers equally to show them the right direction of life to which they should proceed. In 1648, he ended his life as young as forty-one years old.
Toju was the first Japanese who was titled as "Saint." He sympathized with Wang Yang-Ming's thoughts in the beginning, then developed it into his original way and established his own school. This is the reason why he has been respected as the founder of Japan's Yang-Ming-ism.
His family name was Nakae; original personal name was Gen; Chinese style name was Korenaga; commonly known name was Yoemon; and pseudonym was Mokken and Koken.
He set up the school regulations of Toju Shoin and named it "Toju-ki" after an old wisteria in the premises. According to this, his disciples and villagers respectfully called him "Master Toju*."
*"Doshi" means comrade.
*"Toju" means wisteria.
■ "Ai-kei" (reverence)
Toju believed that reverence is an essential idea we should always retain inside our mind.
"Those who love their parents never hate others, those who respect their parents never disregard others." As written in Confucius' Book of Filial Piety, it is a natural deed for all of us to love and respect our own parents, and this attitude is applied to other people in the end.
Love and respect are the most important elements for human beings. Consideration to your parents, who gave birth to you, is also directed to your children, who inherit your blood, and other people in general. Toju practiced this theory of "Ko" (piety) himself and showed the effects to the public. In other words, Toju has made Japanese people's hearts gentler, broader, and profounder till this day attracting not only the local villagers but also many other people.
Every man was born with a beautiful mind called "Ryo-Chi." To our regret though, it is covered up with evil desires. We therefore have to try to keep our conscience polished like a mirror all the time. Once our "Ryo-Chi" becomes shiny, we will be able to live our life peacefully being unified with the heaven.
Toju called this idea "Chi-Ryo-Chi" (to come up to "Ryo-Chi"), and further preached that to polish up our conscience, we have to appear peaceful, speak considerately, look at things purely, listen to others sympathetically, and think of others wholeheartedly. These behaviors are integrated as "Five manners to improve." In his understanding, those who have acquired this teaching and practice it naturally are recognized to have regained the "Ryo-Chi." Toju put a high value on the life reflecting on oneself and staying modest.
■ History of Toju Shoin (Historic Site
Designated by the National Government);
Premises of a private school founded by Nakae Toju
・Guided Tour Available
Toju built a simple schoolhouse in the premises and instituted the school rules, "Toju-ki," when he was thirty-two years old, which was five years after his return from Ozu. His disciples built a new lecture hall afterwards, which was half a year before Toju ended his short life at the age of forty-one.
At the very time when his followers were about to succeed Toju's theory systematically, the Omizo Clan, which ruled this area, ordered them to dissolve the school and go out of the area. It was because the authorities could not permit them getting together to learn the spirit of "Chi-Ryo-Chi" before the political constitution of Japan was established.
Under the difficult condition, the followers secretly continued their meetings. It was not until about seventy years after Toju's death that their activity was publicly resumed. After this turning point, many literates from around the country visited here to give lectures, and in 1796, the Emperor Kokaku named the lecture hall "Tokuhon-do."
Many volunteers such as Kumazawa Banzan, Toju's direct disciple and a distinguished Confucian in the 17th century, had cherished Toju Shoin. In 1880, however, their effort turned out in vain as it was burnt down because of a big fire that consumed the whole village. The villagers managed to save the treasures from the fire, and two years later, they reconstructed a tentative lecture hall that has existed to this day. They abandoned their burning house and took a risk to carry out all the properties kept in Toju Shoin, such as treasures, daily necessaries, and books. Moreover, the faithful villagers hoped to reconstruct the hall before they built their new house.
■ Annual events of Toju
● "Kosho Hajime (Kagami-biraki)" - 11 January
"Kosho Hajime (Kagami-biraki)" has been held on 11 January every year ever since the time when Toju was still alive. Toju displayed the two letters of "Ai-kei" (reverence) and chanted the sutra of piety with his disciples. In remembrance of this anecdote, participants read it aloud together on this particular day.
● "Risshi-sai" - 7 March
"Risshi-sai" is a festival to celebrate Toju's birthday. At the age of eleven that corresponds to the third grade of elementary school in the present day, Toju determined his course of life and made a vow to study hard to be a saint. After this story, the third grade pupils of the local schools write essays about their dream and dedicate it to Toju Shoin. The essays are returned to the writers on their Coming of Age Day.
● "Josho-sai" - 23 July
The anniversary of Toju's third son, Yasaburo's death. He served the Okayama Clan and the Tsushima Clan as an educational manager, and thus he was respectfully called Master Josho. As he was the successor to Toju, those who gather in Toju Shoin chant the sutra of piety together on this special day as well.
● "Jushiki Saiten" - 25 September
Toju passed away on 25 August by the lunar calendar. The festival, which is performed following the procedure for Confucian rituals, is solemnly held on the day exactly a month later than the anniversary of his death.
<Five manners to improve>
Interact with others respectfully in peaceful appearance.
Speak to others in the way you are comfortably received.
Look at others and things respectfully and warmheartedly.
Listen to others sympathetically from the speaker's point of view.
Understand and think of others respectfully.
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