Motosawa Chikuun (本沢竹雲)

Chikuun MOTOSAWA (March 26, 1836 - October 13, 1907) was a priest of Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) and a Japanese scholar of the Chinese classics, who founded Kakuchi gakusha (the Kakuchi school), known as 'Chonmage gakko' (the school of must-wear a Japanese topknot), located in the present Higashi Murayama-gun, Yamagata Prefecture. His childhood name was Hachiro, his common name was Toshimaru, and his real name was Seison. Chikuun was his pseudonym, and he also had other appellations, including Rozan, Kozan, Kyodo and Kishokushi.

Biography

Chikuun MOTOSAWA was born the youngest son of Shuon ADACHI, the chief priest of Saiyo-ji Temple in Hasedo (the present Yamagata City) in March 26, 1836. He is said to have loved calligraphy from his childhood, and to have spent a lot of time studying Chinese classics under his father.

In 1847, Chikuun temporarily lived in Meien-ji Temple where the family of his elder sister's husband lived) located in Niita Village (part of today's Yamagata City). In the following year, 1848, he went to the north branch of Seitoku Shoin (the present Chiba Prefectural Sakura Senior High School), which was a hanko (domain school) located in Kashiwakura Village where was then part of the Sakura domain, adjacent to there, and managed jinya (regional government office)). In 1851, he studied history and shishogokyo (the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism) at Meishinkan (the Kaminoyama domain's hanko), and also learned calligraphy from Ryukei IGARASHI. In the following year, 1852, he had his name formally entered into his elder sister's family register as an adoptee, and thereafter bore the family name Motosawa. In the same year, he went to Katayama Juku (the Yonezawa domain's hanko), but quit for some reason related to his parents' home, and then he returned to Meien-ji Temple and implemented ascetic practices to become a priest.

However, Chikuun kept his passion for knowledge, and so, in 1857, he went to Kyoto and entered Takakura Gakuryo (the seminary of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple of Jodo Shinshu, today's Otani University), where he studied Chinese poetry and Chinese classics. In the following year, 1858, he studied statecraft and literature under Koan FUJIMORI in Edo, and then went back to his home town. Afterward, when Chikuun visited Edo again, he was asked to succeed Sankei Juku, which was a private school founded by Sokken YASUI, but he declined. He occasionally participated in debates within the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), because he was asked to give advice on rebuilding the shogunate, but he quit participating in it. In 1867, he returned to his home town again, became tokugaku (a school inspector) of Meishinkan in Kaminoyama City, and taught the younger generation.

After that, Meishinkan was closed. But in March 1869, he decided to open his school named 'Kakuchi Gakusha' at the foot of Mt. Goro, on the recommendation of his pupil Rokuemon YUKI, who was nanushi (village headman) of Nukutsu Village (part of the present Tendo City). Rozan, which was one of Chikuun's appellations, came from this Mt. Goro (in Japanese, reads as "Gorozan"), by which the school was located. The school was completed in 1870, and before long, about 30 boarders and 10-odd students were admitted into the school.

Thereafter, he taught Chinese classics; mainly, Buddhism and Confucianism, at Kakuchi Gakusha for about 30 years.
He tried to instill in his pupils that the purpose of study is to practice moral principles, by, for example, giving his hand-written memo that says, 'The purpose of study is nothing but to make one's spirit and deeds good.'
Chikuun was an earnest supporter of the Tokugawa shogunate, so he deplored the loss of ancient Japanese culture and tradition in the public trend toward the advocacy of Europeanization and the all-European-style life. Therefore, he himself wore a Japanese topknot and Japanese clothes, living at the dormitory of Kakuchi Gakusha with sons who came from land-owning classes in the neighboring villages, so he was called 'Chonmage Sensei' (a teacher with his hair topknot). He also wanted his pupils to wear Japanese clothes and a Japanese topknot and wearing a topknot was a requirement to become his pupil). Chikuun hated the European culture to the bone, so he refused to get on a steam locomotive, and did not use a gas lamp. Here again, he wanted his pupils to keep up with the simple life in the Edo period.

Chikuun's knowledge was so profound that he was admired as 'Three Great Confucianists around Murayama' along with Ton SUGAWARA in Yuzawa (the present Murayama City) and Shion SAGAE in Nagatoro (the present Higashine City). Even the Meiji government came to know his fame, so he was asked to work for the government. But he declined, and poured his passion into the education of the youth in Murayama while sticking to living a secluded life. In 1907, he was struck down by a disease, and died on October 13 of the year at the age of 71.