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Shinto Missionaries: Civilizing the People
Kyōdōshoku was a short-lived system in the 1860' and 1870's; however, it no doubt had some influence during its day. At the time, the school systems were still largely undeveloped, especially at the primary level, and the Meiji Government, which was deeply suspicious of Christianity during its early stages of re-penetration into Japan, deemed the creation of its own missionary system of "civil cultivation" necessary. In the prior system, that of the similarly aimed senkyōshi system, nativist scholars and Shinto priests were its main "missionaries" (in fact, the term senkyōshi was a deliberately chosen homonym of the word used for Christian "missionaries"). The senkyōshi system, however, did not meet expectations. Among its promulgators, there were those who did not even bother with its textbooks at all. To improve its effectiveness, under the new Kyōdōshoku system, in addition to Shinto priests, the movement used comedians (rakugo-ka) and story-tellers to attract members of the population at large to its cause. The Kyōdōshoku system was, in effect, a volunteer movement, and its members received no pay for their effort, and its impact was relatively small. Around the time when the school system was being developed, the government itself had had enough of this missionary-style system. These two missionary systems are important, however, for they address the question of how Shinto came to confront issues of propaganda and conversion.
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