Yamazaki Ansai (山崎闇斎)

Ansai YAMAZAKI (January 24, 1619 - October 16, 1682) was a Confucian scholar, neo-Confucian scholar, Shintoist and philosopher of the early Edo period. While he was known as Kaemon YAMAZAKI, his actual name was Ka YAMAZAKI and his nickname was Moriyoshi. He was given the name Ansai as Confucian scholar Go (title) and Suika (also called Shidemasu) -Reisha as Reisha-Go (Shintoist title).


Born to a ronin (masterless samurai) family in Kyoto, he left home for Mt. Hiei at a young age to enter the Myoshin-ji Temple and become a monk. When he was around 19 years of age, he moved to Gyuko-ji Temple in Tosa for an apprenticeship under Shonan Soke. He had Neo-Confucian training from Jichu TANI in the Tosa Nangaku school, and he became seriously involved in Neo-Confucianism from his association with Kenzan NONAKA and Sansei OGURA, and accomplished an exclaustration to become a New-Confucian in 1642.

He was invited to work as a Hinshi (guest teacher) for the lord of Aizu, Masayuki HOSHINA in 1665; and, took an active role in giving advice on the ruling of the domain. He reorganized temples and shrines in his territory to rule out the syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism. Influenced by Koretari YOSHIKAWA, he also became seriously involved in Shinto research.

The Neo-Confucianism he advocated is known as Kimon-gaku or Ansai-gaku. He integrated traditional Shinto with Neo-Confucianism, and laid the foundation for Suika-Shinto. The distinctive character of his philosophy was the denial of Hobatsu (expel outrageous tyrants, etc. from a capital), and this had significant influence on the Sonno-Joi (Revere the Emperor and expel the foreigners) at the end of the Edo period, as well as for Mito-gaku (the scholarship and academic traditions that arose in the Mito Domain) and Koku-gaku (the study of Japanese classical literature).

His disciples were Naokata SATO, Keisai ASAMI, Shosai MIYAKE, Konpai UEDA, Mokusai YUSA, Jinzan TANI, Kinmichi OGIMACHI and Yoshinao IZUMOJI.
The line of Ansai-gaku is called the 'Kimon-gaku school.'

List of Books Written
Bunkai Hitsuroku
Yamato Kagami
Ise-jingu Gishikijo
Suika Bunshu
Kamiyo no Maki Fuyo-Shu
Nakatomi no Harae Fusuiso

The Monk's Grave and Mausoleum
His philosophy declared that the human spirit (Shinshin) and Tenjin (heavenly gods) were of the same source and were identical; Ansai YAMAZAKI enshrined his Shinshin in Hokora (a small shrine) in his house. The shrine's name was the same as Ansai's Reisha-Go, Suika-Reisha. Later, after his shrine was transferred to the Shimogoryo-jinja Shrine premises, the shrine was enshrined together in Sarutahiko-jinja Shrine and remains there today.

His grave is at Konkai Komyo-ji Temple in Kurotani, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto.