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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Zhu Shunshui (1600-1682) – the influence of, on and via him during his lifetime Yeung, Wai Keung Steven


Of the many Chinese who sought refuge in Japan during the middle of the seventeenth century, Zhu Shunshui 朱舜水 (1600-1682) is perhaps one of the most talked about. He fled China in 1645. In 1659, giving up all hopes on the restoration of the fallen Ming dynasty 明朝 (1368-1644) after fifteen-year’s unfruitful efforts, Shunshui decided to sojourn in Japan and sworn not to return until the Manchu 滿族 regime is driven out of China. During his stay in Japan, the prominent Mito 水戶domain lord Tokugawa Mitsukuni 徳川光圀 (1628-1701) hired him as his teacher. Mitsukuni is the founding father of the Mitogaku 水戸学, one of the most important schools of thought in Edo period (1603-1867). This school aimed to reconstruct the historiography of Japan by Chinese Neo-Confucianism principles so as to promulgate indigenous Shinto beliefs and absolute loyalty to the emperor. The close relationship between Shunshui and Mitsukuni, and the involvement of Shunshui’s students in projects initiated by Mitsukuni, including the compilation of the Dai Nihon Shi 大日本史 (The History of the Great Japan, 1906), make some scholars believe that Shunshui has dominant influence on Japan’s Neo-Confucian thoughts, if not all Edo thoughts, as well as far-fetching inspiration on Meiji Ishin 明治維新 (the Meiji Restoration, 1868). But the flow of information among brains and its effect on recipient is too dynamic to be measured. Cultural influence over time is even more difficult to trace. By investigating Shunshui’s relationship with different people and his involvement in various events in Japan during his life time, this paper aims to clarify whether the general beliefs on his influence are plausible. In case when the findings are negative, the paper will look into the causes and suggest where Shunshui’s should be.

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