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In Search of the WayThought and Religion in Early—Modern Japan, 1582-1860$
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Richard Bowring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.001.0001

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A time for action

A time for action

Chapter:
(p.290) 19 A time for action
Source:
In Search of the Way
Author(s):

Richard Bowring

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.003.0019

Here the narrative returns to historical development to discuss the role that a movement called ‘Late Mito Thought’ played in the years prior to the Restoration. Here we find a revival of the Neo-Confucian–Shintō amalgam developed by Yamazaki Ansai. The ‘young Turks’ at Mito were highly critical of how the country was being run and argued for a moral revival on Confucian lines in order to effectively counter the threat from Russia and Britain. The most important of these figures was Aizawa Seishisai, whose writings were influential with many young samurai concerned that Japan was heading for disaster. In the end this ideology of total exclusion was not to succeed as the pressure from outside proved too powerful to resist. It was then realized that an opening up of the country controlled by Japan itself was infinitely preferable to the alternative.

Keywords:   Late Mito Thought, Tokugawa Nariaki, Aizawa Seishisai, Russian threat, kokutai, Yoshida Shōin

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