Saturday, January 24, 2015

Question about the authenticity crisis in modern East Asia

Recently Prof. Zhang Ying at Ohio State University asked me a question about the idea of the authenticity crisis I used in my book Leaving for the Rising Sun. She acknowledged the existence of such a crisis in the "17th-century global crisis." She found in the conclusion of the book that I said the intellectuals in East Asia did not find a way out of such a "crisis." Then the question is what happened about this crisis and how it was transformed in modern times. It seems to have been carried on in the modern period but eventually creased to remain a "crisis." Then what is my conclusion implying?

I think this is a great question and I wrote the following reply:

"The crisis did occur in a cycle and I found the authenticity crisis seems to capture the one in the seventeenth century very well. It did occur in other times as well but the historical changes in Ming and Qing seem to make it more acute. For the solution of it, I actually cut an entire section in the conclusion which explains its modern transformation. I carefully limited myself to the period before the dominance of Western learning in modern East Asia because I found the authenticity crisis in premodern East Asia was simply a linguistic problem which relied on the use of classical Chinese. It was not an coincidence that both Chinese evidential scholars and Japanese ancient learning scholars started to reexamine the linguistic/phonetic issues in ancient Chinese texts. Motoori Norinaga 本居宣長 simply followed this trend and tried to restore the ancient Japanese phonetics by studying Kojiki 古事記.  I think this is the way the Japanese found the way out of the crisis. When Western learning dominated East Asia, the linguistic basis of Sinosphere disappeared and the authenticity crisis I am talking about in the premodern period also ceased to be a problem but yielded to other types of crisis. Eventually each East Asian country has to find its way out of their authenticity crisis. Japan seemed to be successful in this process. But China remains in the mode of authenticity crisis even after such a long century of struggle. In the future, I will develop this thesis further. Actually I gave a paper in Chinese about the authenticity crisis in modern China. It will be published in a conference proceeding."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Exhibition for the 350 years of Obaku Culture at Horinji 宝林寺, Hamamatsu 浜松

There was an exhibition of Obaku culture in Horinji 宝林寺 at Hamamatsu 浜松 City Museum held from Nov. 1 to 30, 2014. Just received a catalog from Tanaka Chisei 田中智誠 osho at Bunkaden 文華殿 archive. Arigato. Horinji was founded by Chinese monk Duzhan  Xingying 獨湛性瑩 (1628-1707) in 1667. He later became the fourth abbot at Manpukuji. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The End of Japan Railway

The West Endpoint of Japan Railway at Sasebo, photo by Jiang Wu
When I was in Japan, I thought JR would bring me anywhere. I was surprised that on my trip to Hirado, I found that Japan Railway ends at the Sasebo 佐世保 station and I had to take bus for a hour to reach my destination. How could a famous city like Hirado not connect to JR? 

Sasebo is the base of Japanese navy and has a nice museum of Japanese imperial navy. There should be a lot about China. Unfortunately I did not have time to go. The date I arrived is Aug. 16, 2013 as shown in the photo I took.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Yamaga Soko's 山鹿素行 residence in Hirado

Yamaga family residence, photo by Jiang Wu
One of the disappointments I had when I visited Hirado was that there was not so much information about Yamaga Soko and his contribution to the building of Hirado Castle. The only place I found was the residence of his descendants who still live there. It is original location of the famous Sekitokudo 積徳堂. Yamaga is important to my study because he met Yinyuan in Edo in the winter 1658 and had an encounter dialogue with him. I devoted an entire section on him in Chapter Six (pp.183-191).
Yamaga family residence in Hirado, photo by Jiang Wu