Hayashi Razan (1583–1657)

views updated


Hayashi Razan, the Japanese Confucianist, helped establish the Zhu Xi (Japanese: Shushi) school as the state doctrine of the Tokugawa government (16031867), which played an important role in shaping the national character. Hayashi, who was born in Kyoto, began studying Confucianism at the age of twenty-two, under Fujiwara Seika (15611619) and like his teacher abandoned Buddhism for the Neo-Confucianism of the twelfth-century Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi. Fujiwara recommended his talented pupil to Tokugawa Ieyasu as official adviser, a post Hayashi continued to fill under Ieyasu's successors. Through his son Gahō (16181680) and grandson Hōkō (16441732), both erudite Neo-Confucianists, Hayashi's influence spread. Gahō and Hōkō became hereditary heads of the Confucianist college (Shōheikō) of Edo (Tokyo), center of Japan's orthodox Zhu Xi-ism. Hayashi is credited with an important role in the various codes promulgated by the Tokugawa to reorganize the country under strict military rule. That he also determined educational policy is beyond dispute.

Hayashi, in contrast to his master Fujiwara, was very intolerant toward other doctrinesspecifically, Wang Yangming Confucianism, Laozi, Buddhism, Christianity. Thus he is noted more for his negative polemics than for developing Zhu Xi's ideas, which he followed rather faithfully. An instance of deviation from Zhu Xi is Hayashi's almost monistic conception of ri, the principle, together with ki, the material-force. He came near to identifying these two basic concepts, thus approaching the rival school of Wang Yangming. Nevertheless, he sharply criticized Wang Yangming's "intuitive knowledge" and Kaibara Ekken's views. Hayashi disapproved of Laozi's emphasis on the "Nameless," or the Way understood as the indescribable Great One, intent as he was on stressing social relationships. For Buddhism's escape from society and neglect of loyalty and filial piety he had nothing but scorn, fighting until his death against influential Buddhist monks. His strictures on Christianity were many (Christians were then being persecuted and banished from Japan). He focused, however, on ethical questions and social differences neglected by Christianity. Only with Shintoism did he desire compromise and amalgamation.

See also Buddhism; Confucius; Japanese Philosophy; Kaibara Ekken; Laozi; Wang Yangming; Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi).


See W. T. de Bary, Ryusaku Tsunoda, and Donald Keene, eds., Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp. 350361, and Kyoto Shisekikai, ed., Razan Sensei Shibunshū (A collection of poems and essays by Master Razan), 4 vols. (Kyoto, 19181921). A biography in Japanese is Hori Isao, Hayashi Razan (Tokyo, 1964); this work has a good bibliography of Japanese references. For further bibliography see the Japanese Philosophy entry.

Gino K. Piovesana, S.J. (1967)