National Contours for Moral Education: Japan

Moral Contours

General

Economy

Education

Health

Human Rights

Military Strength + Weapons Exports

Religion

Sustainable Development

Historical figures

DEGUCHI, Nao
1837 - 1915
Japan
RELIGION

Founder of the Japanese new religion of Omotokyo. Her early life makes such a development seem highly unlikely – no formal education or trade, alcoholic husband, disturbed family of 8 to support, and ragpicking and then midwife for income. Visions began when she was aged 55, and though initially mocked, they were eventually taken seriously as conveying the teachings of the god Konjin. They predicted an end to the present corrupt world and its replacement with a new order of peace and prosperity. These notions were regarded as politically suspect by the then establishment religion of State Shinto. Following an encounter with Ueda Kisaburo in 1898, whom she recognised as the promised saviour, he was able to ensure that the teachings and organisational support became more systematised and nationally recognised. Restrictions on the movement were lifted after the ending of World War 2, and it continues now as Omoto Azinen – a community of love and virtue.

Life

 

Writings

DOGEN, Kigen
1200 - 1253
Japan
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY

 

Founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism and greatly influential in Japanese intellectual history. He invited others to join in the practice of zazen – a patient sitting posture in which all fleeting thoughts are abandoned for a quieted consciousness of living which is there for all to enjoy – without fret, wanting or sorrow.

 

Life

 

Writings

HAYASHI RAZAN
1583 - 1657
Japan
PHILOSOPHY

Scholarly adviser to Japanese political leadership over half a century and establishing the main ethos of the Shogunate tradition which would last for 300 years. Though critical of Buddhist, Christian and some Confucian teachings, he expounded a secular and rationalised version of Confucian categories, whilst linking more directly with Shinto beliefs and invoking the Confucian power of heaven in determining the natural order of life.     Every person has an inborn moral character with key virtues and relational obligations.               

Life

Works

HIROIKE, Chikuro
1866 - 1938
Japan
PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION

Remarkable polymath, extensively well read across world civilisations generally as well as contemporary western social science. He systematically recorded and reviewed laws and philosophies. He interpreted his own Shinto beliefs in ways which were open to the thinking of others, with built-in caveats against exclusively nationalist preoccupations. He saw education as vital for human development, with ‘Supreme Morality’ as central to it. The University of Reitaku with its Institute of Moralogy are current expressions of this.

Life

Writings

HONEN
1133 - 1212
Japan
RELIGION

Founder of Pure Land sect (Jodo) of Japanese Buddhism. He taught that rebirth into the Pure Land is open to anyone and everyone, irrespective of status and learning. No elaborate meditative practices or magical formulae are involved, but simply repeating the name of the Buddha.

Life

Writings

ICHIKAWA, Fusae
1893 - 1981
Japan
POLITICS

 

Japanese ‘suffragette’ who campaigned actively over 50 years to improve the moral and political status of women’.

Life

ISHIDA BAIGAN
1685 1744
Japan
RELIGION

Founder of the Japanese Heart Learning (Shingaku) movement, which draws on prevailing religious sources – Shinto and Taoist, as well as Confucian and Buddhist. This is focussed on overcoming selfishness and recovering the true heart in ways that are expressed in daily life. This priority can be realised whatever one’s occupation.

Life

KOTANI Kimi
1901 - 1971
Japan
RELIGION

Co-founder with her brother-in-law of the ‘Society of Friends of the Spirits’ a Japanese Buddhist new religious movement with lay membership. She was a charismatic advocate for combating disasters and difficulties in society at large through more respectful reverencing of family and ancestral inheritance, more authentic moral responses as represented in the Lotus Sutra. Her reputation as a faith healer was also huge. Education of the heart was for her the continuing priority.

Life

 

KUROZUMI M
1780 - 1850
Japan
RELIGION

 

Munetada Koromzumi came from a family background in the Shinto tradition, he developed the new and distinctive Kurozumiko religious movement. Influenced by Confucian and Shinto sources, he taught his followers that a life centred on Ameratsu would be one of sunshine brightness and joy, rather than gloom and ill-health. Appreciation of traditional moral values would help to bring fulfilment.

Life

 Writings

MAKIGUCHI
1871 - 1944
Japan
RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY

Joint founder of the Soka Gakkai in 1930. From a background in school teaching Nichiren Buddhism, he developed the system of Value- Creation Education. This adapted the value goals in life from the Good, the True and the Beautiful to those of the Good, the Beautiful and the Profitable. The quality of happiness in everyday life is its major priority and need not be exclusive of material comforts nor of a competitive economy. During the Second World War he resisted State Shinto attempts to subject the movement, and that of other Buddhist sects, to Imperial control. He died in prison in 1944, although the basis of his challenge to the war itself is contested. After the war, his colleague founder Toda was subsequently able to re-establish the movement.

Life

Writings

MISHIMA, Yukio
1925 - 1970
Japan
LITERATURE, POLITICS

 

Prolific author – novelist, play right and poet, inspired by the ideals of the imperial Shinto past. He criticised the terms of the political settlement following the end of WW2, and instead sought to re-establish the Samarai Bushido as models to be imitated. He excelled in the martial arts of karate and kendo and he committed ritual suicide to magnify his protest against what he saw as the contemporay government’s ‘sell-out’ of its heritage. Outside Japan, his writings have been especially popular in Italy.             

Life

Writings

Video

Interview with Yukio Mishima (9 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPAZQ6mhRcU

 

NAKAYAMA, Miki
1798 - 1867
Japan
RELIGION

 

Initiator of the Tenrikyo (Religion of the Parenting Originator) movement. Whilst seriously ill, she had a series of visions in which she sensed a divine presence calling for the abandonment of material wealth in the interests of the wider good of humankind otherwise continually threatened by individual and collective greed. Purification of heart and mind from this poison would bring in a new age for everyone’s benefit.

  • Life

http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=520

http://en.tenrikyo-resource.com/wiki/Miki_Nakayama

http://www.newpath2000.org/Miki_Nakayama/miki_nakayama_base.html

 

  • Writings

http://www.tenri-u.ac.jp/topics/q3tncs00000fiwbz-att/q3tncs00000fiwvj.pdf

NICHIREN
1222 - 1282
JAPAN
RELIGION

From his sense of personal illumination from the writings of the Buddhist Lotus Sutra, Nichiren's lifetime task was to share with others this teaching of grateful compassion in place of pride and resentment and to reject the views of those fellow Buddhists and politicians who differed. He was exiled for such criticisms, but his warnings that natural disaster and foreign invasion would be a consequence of indifference to the Lotus Sutra were apparently vindicated. There are many Japanese who are contemporary followers of his teaching. There is a dissonance between Nichiren’s sensitivity of mindset and the abrasiveness of his attitude to anyone disagreeing with him.

 

NINOMIYA, S
1787 - 1856
JAPAN
PHILOSOPHY, SOCIAL SCIENCE

Publicly acclaimed social reformer who presented agricultural initiative as the model for individual and social development. He founded the Hotoku (‘repaying virtue’) movement which combined the disciplines of hard work, thrift, and serving the interests of others, including the creastion of local credit unions. It was grounded in good farming practice with measured use of fertilisers and  drew on both Buddhist and Confucian tradition, the former in valuing filial piety and manual labour, the latter in care for others.  

OGYU SORA
1666 - 1672
JAPAN
PHILOSOPHY

Influential Confucian scholar who argued that the principles set out in classical texts on the ancient way provide sure ground on which to engage with the reality of change while avoiding the perils of moral relativism. He challenged the view that the self-cultivation of moral autonomy will be successful; human life is not naturally good, but rather infected with intrinsic evil. Instead he stressed the need for the belonging and binding of social and political institutions.

SHINRAN
1173 - 1262
Japan
PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION

 

Founder of Japanese Buddhist movement known as True Pure Land (Jodo Shinshu). Instead of thinking that his own devotional efforts would bring him the enlightenment, he came to believe that the illuminary source is already there for everyday recognition. It comes graciously from Amida Buddha and becomes in turn the resource and incentive to live caringly for others.

UCHIMURA, Kanzo
1861 - 1930
Japan
RELIGION

 

Japanese Protestant leader. From Samurai family background, but exposed to Christian thinking whilst at agricultural college in Japan and later at Amherst in the US. He was impatient with denominational bureaucracies in Christianity and led the creation of the Mukyokai (Non-Church) movement emphasising shared leadership and Bible study. In an imperially-minded setting he showed in both his teaching and writing how it was possible to be both patriotic and pacifist.

Life

https://web.archive.org/web/20041022075358/http://wwwamy.hi-ho.ne.jp/k-komatsu/uchimura-e.htm

Writings

Diary of a Japanese Convert https://archive.org/details/diaryofjapanesec00uchirich

Representative Men of Japan https://archive.org/details/representativeme00uchirich

 

YAMAZAKI, Ansai
1618 - 1682
Japan
PHILOSOPHY

 

Influential Japanese moral philosopher, drawing on Buddhist (which he rejected), Confucian and Shinto traditions to create Suiga/Suika Shinto. Human life should be tuned into the rhythm of cosmic moral principles, including deference to ruling powers in both family and nation. Loyalty to both self and others is fundamental, but he did not see the consequences of hierarchical ordering as developed in the later extremities of State Imperialism. In immediate personal terms, the abrasiveness of his scrupulous sense of propriety lost him followers and friends during his own lifetime.

Life

http://shinto.enacademic.com/906/Yamazaki,_Ansai

http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=579

http://archive.today/RjJEh

Writings

Current expertise

Reitaku University, Japan
Disciplines:moral development, lifespan, education, psychology, research, teaching: higher education , pedagogy, applied ethics
National Institute for Educational Policy Research, Japan
Contact Information:

Relevant organisations

Research Centre for Moral Science
Japan

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