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Home » 9. Texts and Sources » Shinto Classics and Literature
Expounding on Shintō. This is the action of expounding on the Shintō classics and Shintō doctrine to people in plain and easy to understand language, and thus educating and enlightening the masses. This is also called Shintō kōdan(Shintō discussions). Tachibana Mitsuyoshi, Masuho Zankō, Tamada Naganori, Yano Morimitsu and others are representative of this group. Until the beginning of the early modern era the classics were solely transmitted by handwritten manuscript in all but a few rare cases. The nobility and other specific individuals kept the contents of these classics as "the studies of a specific house," and these were taught in a style of secret teachings where a specific person imparted this knowledge to another individual. The study of the classics continued on into the Edo period in this same fashion, but as enthusiastic scholars began to lecture in public the classics became opened to a wider audience. Famous examples of public lectures include Hayashi Razan, Endō Munechika, and Matsunaga Teitoku's lectures on The Analects, Taiheiki, Hyakunin isshū, and Tsurezuregusa, held between 1603 and 1604. It is said that lectures on Shintō works began in 1672 when Yoshikawa Koretari lectured in the home of the Yoshida family on the "Age of the Kami" section of Nihon shoki.
The lectures of Tachibana Mitsuyoshi
One possible impetus that helped spread the Shintō classics to the masses after this period is the Yoshida family's movement to expand the teaching base. Fundamentally speaking, the Yoshida family broadened their base of influence by using popular beliefs. The Yoshida family was very skilled as using the method of circulating reifu (slips of paper with a writing that is believed to have a spiritual power) such as sanja takusen (oracles of the three deities) and Nakatomi no harae. They appointed able Shintōists and clever men from the Sano area. This also shows the certitude with which the Yoshida family viewed the age, as well as its enterprising nature. In 1675 the Yoshida family entrusted to Tachibana Mitsuyoshi the presentation of the Nakatomi no harae at the various ichi no miya (provincial shrines) throughout the country. During 1596—1615 the Yoshida family published the imperially authorized manuscript of the Nakatomi no harae, and many other purification manuscripts were published later based on this precedent. It has been reported that a published manuscript of Nakatomi no harae, which has a colophon written by Mitsuyoshi in 1697, exists at Ōasahiko Shrine (the provincial shrine of Awa).
As Mitsuyoshi traveled through out the country he also held lectures for the public. We know what the gist of these wandering lectures were from Shokoku ichi no miya junkeiki (A Record of the Travels and Visits at the Various Provincial Shrines) and Yosashibumi (A Record of the Teachings). The main pillar of Mitsuyoshi's lectures were the texts of Nihon shoki jindai no maki (The "Age of the Kami" section of the Nihon shoki), Nakatomi no harae, and Sansha takusen. In most cases the text of Nakatomi no harae was often lectured on in only one sitting, but the text of Jindai no maki was often lectured on in a regular forum numbering close to thirty sessions. Such a lecture held in Aikawa in Sado was opened on the thirteenth day of the eighth month, and concluded with a banquet on the ninth day of the ninth month. This was based on a standardized format.
The lectures of Masuho Zankō
From 1711—1736 priests of the Jōdo Shinshū, Jōdo, and Nichiren sects gave many lectures using the sermon method. The sermon method tended to include slandering other religious groups, and among Shintōists, Masuho Zankō was the first to confront these. Zankō placed a torii in his sitting parlor, recited the words to the ōharae norito (liturgy of the great purification ritual), and in imitation of the esoteric Buddhist goma (the holy fire for invocation) ritual he conducted the Shintō; rite of purifying (harae) the hundred seats. Because of this his lecture was dubbed fūryū kōshaku (lectures of elegance) and this dominated a generation. His claims were published in Zankō hachibusho, and there were those who praised and those who criticized his work. Among these critics, the criticism of Tomobe Yasukata, the head of Suika Shintō, and Itō Eiseki (who scholars believe was the monk in charge of learning for the Shirakawa family) was in turn rather an important factor in the spread of the Zankō style of preaching. There is still no firm evidence of whether Zankō was actually a disciple of the Yoshida family, but Zankō enthusiastically included various teachings of Yoshida Shintō, such as the "three types of purification" and "the oracles of the three deities," in his lectures. In the later years of his life he was deeply absorbed in Yoshida Shintō.
The lectures of Tamada Naganori
Tamada Naganori traveled throughout the country between 1789 and 1818 and held lectures on Shintō. Tamada has ten volumes of work he wrote, but his works Shintō kōgi (Lectures on Shintō) and Kanke seikeiroku (A Record of the Lineage of the Sugawara Family) can be considered to be his notes from his lectures. Also, with Hyakunin isshū idon (good material preserving his lecture style), these records are important in helping us understand the extent of Naganori's teaching material. According to recent reports a clash of power erupted in 1797 in Mikawa between the Shirakawa and Yoshida families, and it has become clear that because the Yoshida family regrouped, Naganori visited various shrines and conducted lectures. In the later years of his life Naganori had obtained a vast amount of land in Shimo Kamo where he had an estate built, and on the sixteenth day of the eighth month of 1815, Konoe Motosaki's mother visited his estate, an auspicious event. In Kyūdaikaizu of the Kamo Momioya Shrine scholars have confirmed the existence of two lines of the Tamada family, and it is said that the Ōsaka lecture circle came from Naganori, who was in turn connected to a family connected with the Kamo Shrine. Because of this it is believed that Naganori had some connection with the ancestral shrine.
The lectures of Yano Morimitsu
The followers of Jodo Shinshū, who take Shinran as their founder, went to extremes to protect the traditions of singular devotion (ikkō senju) and not worshipping the deities of Shintō. It is a well-known religious fact that in the Edo period there was frequent trouble with Shintō members as Jodo Shinshū members rejected the distribution of shinsatsu (amulets for protection) and the action of purifying the hearth. This friction became violent in Aki and the Iishi District of Izumo, as well as in the Ōchi, Ano, and Nima villages of Sekitō District, especially from 1751 until the early nineteenth century. In 1761 the monk Gōsei of Nishi Honganji was dispatched to the Iwami area, and from that time specialized Buddhist invocation of the nenbutsu (reciting the name of Amida to achieve rebirth in the Pure Land) was pushed forward. In Akagi of Iishi District is the Seizōji Temple, the base for Sekitō Shinshū. Yano Morimitsu spent an entire year from 1816 traveling around Iishi and Nogi Districts and developing arguments against Shinshō. Morimitsu, who was appointed director of the Shintū affairs of Izumi Province by the Yoshida family in 1839, was an influential individual. As to his lectures, he would violently criticize the common practices of Shinshō followers, who would not receive any amulets, sometimes threw kamidana into the river, and would not put up kadomatsu during the New Year. These actions are recorded in Shinban kudoki (the title on the first page says "The Arguments and Debates of Shintō and Shinshū") and Yoshida kanryō; yano sensei shintō kōdan no setsu. In contrast, a monk at the Myōtokuji Temple in Aki Village, Nogi District named Seikai, who was the disciple of the aforementioned Gōsei, wrote a harsh assessment in an addendum to Shintō zokudanben, recording that Morimitsu's lectures were "Bad mouthing and various ramblings that are like a kumosuke ganninbō (a vagrant or fraudulent monk), and Hikohachi (a shrewd comic of the Edo period who used colorful language)."

—Nagasawa Hiroko
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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