Ito Jinsai (伊藤仁斎)

Jinsai ITO (August 30, 1627 - April 5, 1705) was a Confucian scholar and philosopher in the early Edo period. He was born in Kyoto. He searched for the correct path and the ideal form of man in daily life, and advocated it.

His imina (personal name that was generally used posthumously or by one's parents or lord) was Koresada, firstly written as 維貞 but later 維禎 (both names are pronounced the same, but are written in diferent kanji). He common names were Genkichi, Genza and Genshichi. His trade name was Shichiemon TSURUYA. Jinsai was his pseudonym, and his posthumous title was Kogaku Sensei (Master of Ancient Learning).


He was born in Kyoto on August 30, 1627.

In 1662, he established Kogido (School of Ancient Meaning) in Horikawa, Kyoto.

He died on April 5, 1705.

Theory and Thought

His major works include "Rongo Kogi" (Ancient Meanings of the Analects), "Moshi Kogi" (Ancient Meanings of the Mencius), "Gomo Jigi" (Philosophical Lexicography of the Analects and Mencius), "Chuyo Hakki" (Commentary on the Doctrine of the Mean), "Dojimon" (Elementary Philosophical Dialogues) and "Kogaku Sensei Bunshu" (Collected Prose Works of the Master of Ancient Learning). However, he devoted himself to lecturing, organizing, and elaborating on his works, and thus did not officially publish any books during his lifetime.

He advocated Kogigaku (Study of Ancient Meaning).

Jinsai's method of study was to investigate the text directly, by abolishing Neo-Confucian interpretation of scriptures that was dominant at that time. Neo-Confucianism was a very systematic study, but had a biased interpretation of scriptures because of the influence of non-Confucian philosophy it had received in the process of its establishment, such as the Zen study and philosophy of Lao-tse and Chuang-tse. Jinsai regarded such factors as impurities for Confucianism and employed a rather positivist approach. Such trend was common in Confucian studies of that time.

Literary Works

"Rongo Kogi" (Part I of the Rongo volumes of "Nihon Meika Shisho Chushaku Zensho" [The Complete Commentaries of Japanese Great Scholars on the Four Books of Confucianism] edited by Giichiro SEKI, published by Toyo Tosho in April 1922)
"Moshi Kogi" (Part I of the Moshi volumes of "Nihon Meika Shisho Chushaku Zensho" [The Complete Commentaries of Japanese Great Scholars on the Four Books of Confucianism] edited by Giichiro SEKI, published by Toyo Tosho in October 1924)
"Dojimon" (published by Iwanami Bunko and others) - ISBN 978-4-00-330091-6 and others
"Ito Jinsai Shu Nihon no Shiso 11" (Collected Works of Jinsai ITO - Japanese Philosophy, Volume 11) edited and commented by Eiichi KIMURA, published by Chikuma Shobo in 1970
"Ito Jinsai Nihon no Meicho 13" (Jinsai ITO - Japanese Classics, Volume 13) edited and commented by Shigeki KAIZUKA, published by Chuo Koronsha in 1977 and 1983
Nihon Shiso Taikei 33 "Ito Jinsai Ito Togai" (Japanese Philosophy Collection, Volume 33 - Jinsai ITO and Togai ITO) revised and annotated by Kojiro YOSHIKAWA and Shigeru SHIMIZU, published by Iwanami Shoten in 1971, ISBN 978-4-00-070033-7
Nihon Kanshijin Senshu 4 "Ito Jinsai" (Selected Works of Japanese Poets of Chinese Poetry, Volume 4 - Jinsai ITO) revised and annotated by Yoshiro ASAYAMA and Ming YANG, published by Kenbun Shuppan in 2000
Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei 99 "Jinsai Nissatsu" (New Japanese Classic Literature, Volume 99 - Jinsai Nissatsu) revised and annotated by Hajime UETANI, published by Iwanami Shoten in March 2000
Sosho Nihon no Shisoka 10 "Ito Jinsai fu Ito Togai" (Japanese Philosopher Series, Volume 10 - Jinsai ITO with Supplement of Togai ITO) written by Tomoatsu ITO, published by Meitoku Shuppansha in March 1983
Kinsei Juka Bunshu Shusei 1 "Kogaku Sensei Shibunshu" (Collected Works of Early Modern Confucian Scholars, Volume 1 - Collected Works of Kogaku Sensei) edited and commented by Masahiko MIYAKE, published by Perikansha in 1985