Zhu Shun­shui Spread­ing China’s Cul­ture to Ja­pan

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Zhou Fu­jing Edited by Greg Vanisky

Zhu, a Chi­nese Con­fu­cian­ism scholar, helped to pro­mote and ad­vance agri­cul­ture, ar­chi­tec­ture, art, and medicine in Ja­pan.

In 1659, as a Chi­nese mer­chant ship slowly dis­ap­peared into sea of fog while sail­ing to Ja­pan from Fu­jian Prov­ince, an­other story along the Mar­itime Silk Road was born. The cre­ator of this story was Zhu Shun­shui (1600–1682), a scholar of the late Ming (1368–1644) and early Qing (1644–1911) dy­nas­ties.

The “Belt and Road” is China’s ini­tia­tive. The his­toric Silk Road isn’t only an an­cient com­mer­cial trade route con­nect­ing Asia, Africa and Eu­rope, but also a road be­tween the East and West for eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural ex­changes. Many Chi­nese en­voys once stepped on this road dur­ing the past 2,000 years or more, writ­ing le­gends in world diplo­matic his­tory, still com­mem­o­rated by later gen­er­a­tions along the Silk Road.

Crushed As­pi­ra­tions

Zhu Shun­shui spent his child­hood in Yuyao and Songjiang in Zhe­jiang Prov­ince, a re­gion with the most pros­per­ous eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the na­tion at the time. The area's thriv­ing econ­omy also helped to bol­ster devel­op­ment in ed­u­ca­tion, con­trib­uted to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of sig­nif­i­cant cul­ture and in­vig­o­rated the think­ing of in­tel­lec­tu­als, all of which had a ma­jor im­pact on Zhu's own growth. While tak­ing in pro­gres­sive thoughts and ideas, Zhu grad­u­ally es­tab­lished his lofty as­pi­ra­tions, and with dili­gence and tal­ent, achieved high at­tain­ments in Con­fu­cian­ism, cul­ti­vat­ing his moral char­ac­ter and mar­tial arts.

Dur­ing the era Zhu grew up in, the Ming Dy­nasty's de­cline had been ac­cel­er­at­ing. Af­ter Zhu Youx­iao (reign: 1620–1627), also known as Ming Xi­zong, as­cended to the throne, trai­tor­ous of­fi­cials such as Wei Zhongx­ian mo­nop­o­lised im­pe­rial power and caused many in­jus­tices. They killed Donglin­dang, a group of scholar- of­fi­cials who were their op­po­nents, and com­pletely drove them out of the Ming court. Zhu Zhiqi, Zhu Shun­shui's el­der brother, was framed and pros­e­cuted by the trai­tor­ous of­fi­cials was un­able to re­alise his am­bi­tion of serv­ing the coun­try and its peo­ple. Ul­ti­mately, he was forced to live out the rest of his life while un­em­ployed in Nan­jing, an ex­pe­ri­ence that strength­ened Zhu Shun­shui's de­sire to avoid an of­fi­cial ca­reer. He was de­ter­mined to in­stead serve the coun­try and its peo­ple through prag­ma­tism and the study of knowl­edge.

An­cient Chi­nese im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tions mainly en­tailed con­tent per­tain­ing to the “Four Books and Five Clas­sics,” and the ar­ti­cles can­di­dates wrote had to fol­low cer­tain rules and didn't al­low for per­sonal devel­op­ment, which in­hib­ited peo­ple's think­ing. By par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ex­am­i­na­tion, peo­ple could nei­ther learn prac­ti­cal knowl­edge nor save the coun­try or its peo­ple. There­fore, Zhu had no in­ter­est in an of­fi­cial ca­reer and de­clined the court's ap­point­ment.

Zhu was a pa­triot and hated as­so­ci­at­ing with trai­tor­ous of­fi­cials. So as the Ming started to de­cline in 1644, Zhu be­gan his jour­ney to save the coun­try. For fif­teen years from 1645 to 1659, he trav­elled back and forth be­tween Zhoushan in Zhe­jiang Prov­ince and An'nan (to­day's Viet­nam) six times, and seven times be­tween Zhoushan and Na­gasaki, Ja­pan. On the sur­face, Zhu seemed to be en­gaged in mar­itime trade. In ac­tu­al­ity, he was mak­ing an ef­fort to find mil­i­tary and fi­nan­cial help over­seas in or­der to re­store the Ming, show­ing his pa­tri­o­tism and na­tional in­tegrity.

On Au­gust 27, 1646, Zheng Zhi­long, a mil­i­tary leader dur­ing the late Ming, sur­ren­dered to the Qing. 23-year- old Zheng Cheng­gong split with his father and re­cruited troops from his home­town, An­ping Town, Fu­jian Prov­ince to re­sist the Qing and re­store the Ming. Since the Qing troops were adept at naval bat­tles, Zheng ac­tively en­deav­ored to train and expand the power of its naval troops. Zheng's troops de­feated the Qing troops many times and took Xi­a­men and the sur­round­ing islands un­der their con­trol, which be­came a base for restor­ing the Ming. In May 1658, Zhu Shun­shui in­vited Zheng to Xi­a­men to su­per­vise the Sec­ond North­ern Ex­pe­di­tion. Although Zhu per­son­ally lead the charge, the bat­tle even­tu­ally failed. From Zheng's de­feat in Fu­jian, Zhu re­alised that “the rising Qing Dy­nasty was un­beat­able, the lost land couldn't be re­cap­tured, and de­feated troops couldn't be re­vived. If they find them­selves in the main­land, they must fol­low the Qing's rules.”

In the win­ter of 1659, 60-year- old Zhu left his coun­try and went to Ja­pan dur­ing the Toku­gawa Bakufu Pe­riod (1603–1867). Toku­gawa Bakufu adopted the pol­icy of na­tional iso­la­tion, and for­eign­ers were not per­mit­ted to stay in the coun­try, un­doubt­edly a blow to Zhu. At the time, Ja­panese scholar Andō Seian ad­mired Zhu's eru­di­tion and schol­ar­ship and wanted to be­come his stu­dent. But af­ter Andō Seian sub­mit­ted a state­ment to the au­thor­i­ties in Na­gasaki, Zhu was given spe­cial per­mis­sion to live in Ja­pan per­ma­nently. From then on, Zhu no longer left the coun­try.

Zhu lived in Ja­pan for 23 years. He fa­cil­i­tated ex­ten­sive ex­changes with local peo­ple from all walks of life, won re­spect from Ja­panese schol­ars and was hon­oured as “Ja­pan's Con­fu­cius.” In 1665, Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni, the daimyo of Mito, ad­mired Zhu's tal­ents and in­vited him to be a se­nior lec­turer. Zhu was trans­ferred to Edo, to­day's Tokyo, to re­cruit stu­dents and teach Con­fu­cian­ism. His lec­tures were pop­u­lar, even the el­derly at­tended car­ry­ing walk­ing sticks. , Ja­panese schol­ars came to ask for his ad­vice from all walks of life. Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni thought highly of him and also sought his ad­vice on na­tional poli­cies, the sys­tem of rites, as well as cul­tural and aca­demic is­sues.

Em­pha­sis­ing Ed­u­ca­tion

Be­fore head­ing to Ja­pan, Zhu ex­pe­ri­enced many tri­als and tribu­la­tions, but never gave up. Af­ter ar­riv­ing in Ja­pan, his pro­found, ex­ten­sive ed­u­ca­tion, prac­ti­cal knowl­edge and virtues were val­ued by Ja­panese schol­ars. He was ded­i­cated to spread­ing

Chi­nese cul­ture in a foreign land and made out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the friendly ex­changes be­tween China and Ja­pan.

In Ja­pan, Zhu de­liv­ered pub­lic lec­tures about China to Ja­panese stu­dents. The teach­ing ma­te­ri­als he used were all writ­ten in Chi­nese, which he re­quired his Ja­panese stu­dents to read. He re­quired that “their pro­nun­ci­a­tion should be no dif­fer­ence than na­tive Chi­nese” and made them re­cite what they had learned. Zhu aimed to en­hance his stu­dents' oral train­ing while strength­en­ing the prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of their lan­guage skills. He at­tached high im­por­tance to, and set strict stan­dards for, the com­pi­la­tion of Chi­nese text­books which he re­vised per­son­ally, demon­strat­ing his re­spon­si­bil­ity as an ed­u­ca­tor.

At that time, many mer­chant ships came to Ja­pan from Fu­jian Prov­ince, mak­ing it con­ve­nient for a lot of Ja­panese peo­ple to learn the south­ern Fu­jian di­alect while also learn­ing the of­fi­cial Chi­nese lan­guage. How­ever, Zhu be­lieved that in teach­ing Chi­nese the aims should be clear, and that tar­geted groups and di­alects should not be mixed with the of­fi­cial Chi­nese lan­guage.

Zhu also em­pha­sised the teach­ing of Chi­nese char­ac­ters and vo­cab­u­lary terms, and he an­swered all the ques­tions the Ja­panese had about Chi­nese pro­nun­ci­a­tion in great de­tail. The book Zhu Shun­shui tanqi (“Zhu Shun­shui's il­lus­tra­tions on fan­tas­tic lan­guage”) recorded a to­tal of 1,084 Chi­nese vo­cab­u­lary terms in 12 cat­e­gories that Zhu re­layed to his stu­dent Jin­jing Hongji. Zhu's in­volve­ment in Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ing was highly val­ued and rep­re­sented the high­est stan­dard of foreign lan­guage teach­ing at the time. Un­der Zhu's care­ful in­struc­tion, some Ja­panese, in­clud­ing Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni, be­came the ear­li­est Chi­nese schol­ars in Mito. These schol­ars laid a solid foun­da­tion for the for­ma­tion of the Mito School and pro­moted China-ja­pan cul­tural ex­change.

Zhu's po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tion was to es­tab­lish a so­ci­ety with Con­fu­cian­ism at its core, in which tal­ented peo­ple could be elected and ap­pointed, and where gov­ern­men­tal and ed­u­ca­tional sys­tems were both ar­ranged well and morally en­light­ened. To pro­mote his po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions, he gave pri­or­ity to run­ning schools and cul­ti­vat­ing tal­ent. He drew lessons from the fall of the Ming and knew the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion. He said, “Re­spect­ing ed­u­ca­tion and pro­mot­ing learn­ing is fun­da­men­tal to building a stronger coun­try, cul­ti­vat­ing and elect­ing tal­ented peo­ple, and is a ne­ces­sity for gov­er­nance.” He wrote the ar­ti­cle “Xuex­iao yi” (“On Schools”) which in­tro­duced the gen­eral makeup of schools in cen­tral and local places dur­ing past Chi­nese dy­nas­ties, and ex­plained the role schools played to pro­mote so­cial devel­op­ment.

In 1670, Zhu, dur­ing his 70s, wrote the book Xue­gong tushuo (“Draw­ings of schools”) at the re­quest of Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni. The book sum­marises how schools, as places of study since an­cient times un­til now, served, and how it be­came the source of Ja­panese school sys­tem. Toku­gawa Nari­aki, the ninth daimyo of Mito, es­tab­lished Ja­pan's first school ac­cord­ing to the spe­cific records in Zhu's book. With re­gard to teach­ing prac­tices, Zhu hated the im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion sys­tem as well as the tal­ent se­lec­tion and ap­point­ment sys­tems adopted by the late Ming. He be­lieved ed­u­ca­tion should em­pha­sise ap­pli­ca­tion and prag­ma­tism and pro­moted the com­bi­na­tion of both aca­demic learn­ing and prac­tice of mar­tial

arts. Zhu cul­ti­vated a lot of tal­ented peo­ple versed in these dis­ci­plines, and taught based on his stu­dents' ap­ti­tude.

Liang Qichao, a mod­ern Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tor, ac­cu­rately de­scribed Zhu's con­tri­bu­tions to Ja­panese ed­u­ca­tion: “[He] ex­erted a high de­gree of in­flu­ence on the Ja­panese with his invit­ing per­son­al­ity, prac­ti­cal and vast knowl­edge, and af­fec­tion­ate emo­tions.” His teach­ing the­ory, thoughts and prac­tices had a greatim­pact on Ja­panese ed­u­ca­tion.

Cul­tural En­voy

In ad­di­tion to knowl­edge and cul­ture, Zhu also brought Ja­panese peo­ple China's ad­vanced sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. Liang Qichao said, “Zhu not only con­trib­uted to Ja­pan's spir­i­tual civil­i­sa­tion but brought a lot of benefits to its ma­te­rial pros­per­ity.” In Ja­pan, Zhu paid at­ten­tion to agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion and the har­vest of crops. Let­ters Zhu wrote to his Ja­panese friends con­tained the lines: “Good har­vests are the main pri­or­ity for a coun­try” and “Food is the first ne­ces­sity of the peo­ple. Bad har­vests are ter­ri­ble for of­fi­cials.” When he saw that it was the rainy sea­son, he wrote let­ters to a stu­dent to ask about the growth of crops. He also wrote let­ters to local of­fi­cials to give them farm­ing guid­ance, such as: “Most of the farm­land is low-ly­ing and the soil couldn't be pre­served be­cause of the wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion sys­tem, which is not suit­able for grow­ing crops. The farm­land should be ploughed un­til there are no big clumps, and ir­ri­ga­tion is nec­es­sary to soften and fur­ther level the field.” He val­ued agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy and also con­ducted re­search on the sub­ject.

Zhu also had achieve­ments in ar­chi­tec­ture. At 71 years old, Zhu com­pleted the book Xue­gong tushuo as re­quested by Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni, who or­dered craftsmen to con­struct an ar­chi­tec­tural model ac­cord­ing to the ra­tio of 1:30. Zhu ex­plained the con­struc­tion meth­ods to the craftsmen clearly, and the con­struc­tion was com­pleted in one year. The current Yushi­ma­seido Seidō, known as the “Con­fu­cian tem­ple in Tokyo,” was con­structed in 1690 based on this model. Yushi­ma­seido Seidō cov­ers an area of 38,000 square me­tres, and at the shrine in Tai­sei­den (Hall of Great Achieve­ments), the por­trait of Con­fu­cius that Zhu brought to Ja­pan is wor­shipped. Fur­ther­more, based on the West Lake in Zhe­jiang Prov­ince and Lushan Mount in Jiangxi Prov­ince, Zhu de­signed the con­struc­tion of the Ko­rakuen Amuse­ment Park in Koishikawa, Edo, and per­son­ally led the stone bridge con­struc­tion.

Zhu pos­sessed vast med­i­cal and phar­ma­co­log­i­cal knowl­edge, and he in­tro­duced his po­si­tions with re­spect to cur­ing dis­eases and tak­ing medicine to the Ja­panese. He thought, “Medicines pre­scribed by physi­cians will ben­e­fit the body if they don't de­vi­talise but are in­stead ef­fec­tive for pre­vent­ing weak­nesses. If pathogens en­ter the body, a fire de­fi­ciency will arise. Then, the first thing to do is to re­move the “fire,” which is ben­e­fi­cial to the body. If physi­cians pre­scribe shenqi, a tra­di­tional Chi­nese medic­i­nal for­mula, for pa­tients with­out know­ing the causes of their dis­eases, it is harm­ful. When pre­scrib­ing medicine, physi­cians should be cau­tious and pay at­ten­tion to de­fi­cien­cies and excesses, chills and fevers, so as not to hurt the body.”

On April 17, 1682, Zhu Shun­shui passed away at 83. Toku­gawa Mit­sukuni led stu­dents to at­tend his fu­neral and con­structed a tomb for him on a moun­tain lo­cated in to­day's Kuji-gun, Ibaraki Pre­fec­ture. The fu­neral and the con­struc­tion of the tomb fol­lowed Ming stan­dards.

On the tomb, Mit­sukuni in­scribed the words “Mon­u­ment of Ming Zhengjun, Zhu Shun­shui.” The fol­low­ing year, Mit­sukuni gave Zhu the post­hu­mous ti­tle “Wen Gong” to eu­lo­gise his ex­ten­sive learn­ing and virtues, and vis­ited the mon­u­ment to pay his re­spects to Zhu as his stu­dent. In 1684, Mit­sukuni con­structed a Chi­nese-style memo­rial hall at Zhu's for­mer res­i­dence and held sac­ri­fi­cial rites on Zhu's death an­niver­sary to hon­our him. Mit­sukuni showed rev­er­ence to Zhu when he was alive as well as af­ter his death. He set an ex­am­ple for re­la­tion­ships be­tween stu­dents and teach­ers from dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

It can be seen that, as a Chi­nese Con­fu­cian­ism scholar, Zhu pro­moted and ad­vanced Ja­pan's devel­op­ment in many fields: agri­cul­ture, ar­chi­tec­ture, art, and medicine. Zhu's glo­ri­ous deeds in Ja­pan also spread to China. At the end of 19th cen­tury and early 20th cen­tury, there was an up­surge of peo­ple who stud­ied his works, and schol­ars re­searched on his thoughts and deeds. His pa­tri­o­tism in­flu­enced the younger gen­er­a­tion of the late- Qing Dy­nasty.

Zhu spread Chi­nese cul­ture through­out Ja­pan and strength­ened mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween the Chi­nese and Ja­panese. He en­riched Ja­panese cul­ture, pro­moted its devel­op­ment, was well-re­spected, and made out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to cul­tur­alex­change be­tween the two coun­tries. For cen­turies, Zhu's sto­ries have been wide­spread in Ja­panese, and he's still re­mem­bered to­day, re­main­ing a true cul­tural en­voy.

” Por­trait of Zhu Shun­shui”

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