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Home » 8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities » Personalities
Yamazaki Ansai
(1619-1682)
An early Edo-period scholar of Confucianism and Shinto. His style was Moriyoshi, his common name was Kaemon, and his epistolary name was Ansai. His posthumous "spirit-shrine" name (reisha-gō) was Suika. Born in Kyoto on the ninth day of the twelfth month in the first year of the Genna era (January 5, 1619) as the second son of the acupuncture practitioner Yamazaki Jōin.
        In his youth Yamazaki practiced Buddhism at temples on Mount Hiei, at Myōshinji, and at the temple Gyūkōji in Tosa (present-day Kōchi Prefecture). At the age of twenty-five he studied the "Southern School" (Nangaku) of Neo-Confucianism under Tani Jichū and Nonaka Kenzan. Returning to secular life, Yamazaki returned to Kyoto to devote himself to studies of Neo-Confucianism and Shinto. He made his first journey to eastern Japan in 1658, when he came into contact with Inoue Masatoshi, lord of the Kasama Domain, and Katō Yasuyoshi, lord of the Ōsu Domain. In 1665 he was introduced to the shogunal regent Hoshina Masayuki, which led to his lasting influence in Masayuki's domain of Aizu.
        Yamazaki was initiated into the secret transmissions of Ise Shintō in 1669 by Kawabe Kiyonaga, and of Yoshida Shintō in 1671 by Yoshikawa Koretari. Thereupon founded the Spirit-Shrine Suika (Suika reisha), a "living shrine" (seishi) where he worshiped his own "mind-god" (shinjin).
        After the death of Masayuki in 1672, Yamazaki went back to Kyoto, putting all his efforts into lecturing, writing, and building up his academic circle. He established himself as a leading scholar by his thorough understanding of Zhuxi and through his attempt to systemize and further develop the various medieval traditions of Shinto interpretation. His broad range of disciples divided into a Neo-Confucian branch, a Shinto branch, and a branch combining Confucian and Shinto studies.
        Yamazaki died while reciting the Purification Formula of the Nakatomi (Nakatomi no harae) on the sixteenth day of the ninth month (October 7) 1682, at the age of sixty-four. His numerous works include: Bunkai hitsuroku (Reports of Encounters with Men of Culture), [Nakatomi no harae] Fūsuisō (Wind and Water Essays [on the Nakatomi Purification Formula]), [Jindai no maki] Fūyōshū (Wind and Leaves Collection [of the Chapter on the Age of the Gods]).

—Nishioka Kazuhiko
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
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