School Textbooks in Japan Prior to the Modern Times (近代以前の日本における教科書)

This article will explain about the history of the school textbooks in Japan until the school system was established in the Meiji period.

Ancient Times

According to the history books, "Kojiki" (Record of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (The Chronicles of Japan), Wani is believed to be a teacher to the Prince of Emperor Ojin using the books "Rongo" (The Analects of Confucius) and "Senjimon" (The Thousand Character Classic); however, this remains unconfirmed. Also, it is said that FUJIWARA no Kamatari was taught on "Shueki" (Classic of Changes) by the monk Min just before the Taika Reforms, and also attended the private school of MINABUCHI no Shoan, bringing the Emperor Tenchi along with him.

It is said that the oldest full-fledged educational institution was the Daigaku-ryo within the Centralized Administration established under the Ritsuryo Legal Codes, and according to the regulations, in the regular course (later known as Myogyodo), "Rongo" and "Kokyo" (Classic of Filial Piety) of Confucianism were compulsory and specializations were determined based on the combination scriptures from the three scripture groups: the large scriptures, which included "Raiki" and "Shunju Sashiden," the medium scriptures, which included "Moshi," "Shurai" and "Girai" and the small scriptures, which included "Shueki" and "Shosho." Also, each of the scriptures had annotations written by specific authors, such as Gen TEI and Hitsu O for "Shueki," Ankoku KO and Gen TEI for "Shosho" and "Kokyo," Gen TEI for "Shurai," "Girai," "Raiki" and "Moshi," Ken FUKU and Yo TO for "Shunju Sashiden," Gen TEI and An KA for "Rongo." When IYOBE no Iemori came back from Tang (China) in 776, he brought with him the annotations of two books, "Shunju Kuyoden" and "Shunju Kokuyoden," which were added to the small scriptures in 798. In 860, "Gyochu Kokyo" (Kaigan Shichu), an annotation text written by Ryuki LI was adopted for the annotation of "Kokyo" by the advice of OKASUGA no Otsugu (however, the study of those of Ankoku KO were not restricted in any way). In the "Engishiki" system of the Daigaku-ryo, among the nine small scripture textbooks of Sando (Mathematics), which included "Sonshi Sankyo," "Goso Sankyo," "Kyusho Sanjutsu," "Kaito Sankei," "Rokusho," "Teijutsu," "Sankai Jusa," "Shuhi Sankei," "Kyushi," three were compulsory, "Kyusho Sanjutsu," "Rokusho," and "Teijutsu" with "Shuhi Sankei" added later to the compulsory list of textbooks. As for Myobodo (Law) and Kidendo (History), which were most likely established during the Jinki and Tenpyo periods, the former adopted the Ritsuryo Legal Codes itself as a textbook, and in the "Engishiki," 'Ritsu' was included in the medium scriptures and 'Ryo' in the small scriptures. And the latter adopted "Monzen" and "Jiga" at first, but in the "Engishiki," 'Sanshi' (three history books) ("Shiki," "Kanjo," and "Gokanjo") were adopted in place of "Jiga" and all were categorized as large scriptures.

One's success in the aristocratic society largely depended on systems such as the Oni, the Otoneri, and the Udoneri, which took your bloodline into account, and the children of powerful aristocrats were educated mainly at home, except during a short period in the early Heian period when such children were obliged to study in the Daigaku-ryo. For children's education, "Mogyu," "Senjimon" and "Rikyo Hyakunijuei" were primarily used, with "Wakan Roeishu" written by FUJIWARA no Kinto, "Sakumon Daitai" written by FUJIWARA no Munetada, "Zoku Senjimon" and "Domoshoin" written by MIOSHI no Tameyasu later added to the list of textbooks. However, all the textbooks were about Chinese classics and Chinese poetry of Kidendo (History), which was the main discipline at that time. The reciting of the scriptures of Confucianism was also believed to have been taught. When children reached the age of 7 or 8, or the age of 13 or 14 (depending on the era), the Ceremony of First Reading were held, and they began reading books such as "Gyochu Kokyo" and "Shiki." Emperors upon reaching adulthood were appointed Professors of Monjodo (Department of Chinese poetry and history), and regent families to an emperor were appointed famous scholars as Keishi to work as court scholars. The textbooks used were same as those used at Myogyodo and Kidendo of the Daigaku-ryo, but additional lectures were also given on "Gunsyochiyo," "Roshi Dotokukyo," "Soshi," "Hakushimonju," "Joganseiyo," "Sesetsushingo," etc. There were also books created for particular people such as "Togusetsuin" (Dissipation) offered to the Emperor Montoku during his crown prince days by SUGAWARA no Koreyoshi, "Wamyo Ruijusho" offered to Imperial Princess Isoko by MINAMOTO no Shitago, "Sambo Ekotoba" offered to Imperial Princess Sonshi by MINAMOTO no Tamenori, and "Kuchizusami" offered to FUJIWARA no Sanenobu also by MINAMOTO no Tamenori. During the late Heian period, FUJIWARA no Akihira authored "Unshushosoku," which is believed to be the oldest Oraimono (a textbook for primary education) in Japan, for court nobles to refer to when they prepared documents.

Medieval Period

During the Medieval period, education was increasingly offered in temples, and samurais as well as common people were able to send their children tom temples to receive their education. Books like "Dojikyo" and "Jitsugokyo" were originally used for textbooks, but eventually most textbooks were replaced with Oraimono. Originally, Oraimono was a collection of model sentences for letter-writing, but later it developed to include social knowledge and common sense, and by the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, "Teikin Orai" was created.

Pre-Modern Times

After the Shogunate system with clans was well established during the Edo period, the Zhu Xi school of Neo-Confucianism took a central role in education, and education focused mainly on Chinese classics such as Scriptures of Confucianism, History, and Literature, with Calligraphy and Mathematics taking on a supplemental role.

Private elementary schools for the common people adopted for their textbooks like Oraimono, which included "Teikin Orai," as well as "Dojikyo," "Jitsugokyo," "Joeishikimoku," and other books related Confucianism such as "Sanjikyo," "Yamato Shogaku," "Kokyo," "Shogaku," etc.

With the rising of the standard of learning on ancient Japanese thought and culture during the latter period of the Tokugawa Shogunate, books such as "Nihon Gaishi," "Nihon Seiki," and "Kokushiryaku," which increased the reverence for the Emperor, were adopted in the schools of the clans and in some of the private elementary schools for the common people.