Kangaku (Sinology) (漢学)

In a narrow sense, "kangaku" refers to traditional keigaku (study of Keisho in Confucianism) and the study of old documents during the period of Qin dynasty as opposed to Neo-Confucianism in the Song and Ming dynasties; in a broad sense, it is a general term for studies of knowledge imported from China, as opposed to Western learning and the study of Japanese classical culture. This section will explain the kangaku in a broad sense.

Before the mid-Edo period, outstanding science of the foreign countries generally were brought to Japan through China in the form of Chinese books, and for this reason, all of the scientific researches of foreign origins were regarded as 'kangaku.'
However, when form of studies referred to as western studies (Dutch studies) which sought to directly obtain knowledge through books from Europe started, the traditional way of studies (studies typical of Japan as well as studies introduced from China) had come to be referred to as 'koukangaku' to distinguish from western studies. However, there was a strong movement to reject kangaku, as those who studied kokugaku (the study of Japanese classical literature) and Shinto such as Norinaga MOTOORI claimed that it was kangaku which was corrupting the Japanese spirit, which had been cultivated since ancient times, and the name 'kokugaku' fell into disuse and became separated from kangaku.

From the Meiji period, the studies of old form of Confucianism declined and was replaced and restructured as 'shinagaku' which incorporated studies of western studies. However, because Chinology had been developed mainly in Kyoto Imperial University, the term 'kangaku' was still used by members of the University of Tokyo who were opposed to Kyoto Imperial University and ultranationalists who were trying to establish a distinction between the China from which ancient Japan had imported its civilization and the China of that time, which had been almost entirely colonized by more powerful countries.

After the war, chinology and kangaku were collectively referred to as "chugokugaku" (Chinese studies), as it is regarded inappropriate to use the term of 'china.'
Furthermore, even nowadays, the term "kanbungaku" is used in general when Chinese literature before the early modern times is studied.