Minagawa Kien (皆川淇園)

Kien MINAGAWA (January 1, 1735 - June 21, 1807) was a Confucianist ('Jugakusha' or 'Jusha' in Japanese) who lived in mid-Edo period. Kien's father was Nariyoshi MINAGAWA (who was also called Shundo and Hakushu), and his biological younger brother was Nariakira FUJITANI (who was also called Sojo and Kitanobe) who was known as a scholar of ancient Japanese thought and culture ('Kokugakusha' in Japanese). Kien was the pen name, and his real name was Gen. Hakukyo was Kien's azana (Chinese courtesy name which was, historically, the name formerly given to adult Chinese men, used in place of their given name in formal situations; scholars and the literati of Japan adopted this custom of courtesy name). Kien's common name was Bunzo. Another pen name of Kien was Yuhisai. Kien was born in Kyoto.


Kien learned Confucianism ('jugaku' in Japanese) under Kinri ITO and Genken MIYAKE. Kien studied further into the art of divination ('ekigaku' in Japanese), and based on his own philological theory did he advance a 'Kaibutsu-ron' theory (literally, 'kai' means opening and 'butsu' means objects, the 'kai-butsu' referring to a method of grasping the meaning of a word by voicing it so as to understand an object via name) which interpreted a relationship between 'name' and 'object,' and published books annotating many basic literature for Confucianism (which literature was called 'Keisho'), the books including "Roshi" (Lao Tzu or Lao-tse or Lao·zi; literally "Master Lao"), "Soshi" (Zhuangzi or Chuang-tzu; literally "Master Zhuang"), "Resshi" (Liezi or Lièzĭ or Lieh Tzu; literally "Master Lie") and "Rongo" (Lunyu in Chinese or Analects in English, also known as the Analects of Confucius). Kien was invited as a teacher of honor ('hinshi' in Japanese) by some feudal lords including Nobumine MATSUDAIRA of Kameyama Domain, Kiyoshi MATSUURA of Hirado Domain and Yasusada HONDA of Zeze Domain. Kien founded a private school in Kyoto, where he is said to have taught more than 3,000 students. Influenced by Ju EMURA's Shakujodo-shisha (the term shisha refers to a Chinese poetry salon), Kien and his fellow scholars Ritsuzan SHIBANO and Soshu AKAMATSU established their own shisha called Sanpaku-sha. Kien was also a prominent painter whose work of sansui-ga (landscape painting) was as highly regarded as his master Okyo MARUYAMA's. In 1806, Kien in late life gained support from various feudal lords so that he founded a 'gakumonsho' private school (MINAGAWA Kien Kodokan) in Kyoto. However, without fulfilling his life ambition did Kien die in the following year, at the age of 74. Kien was buried in the graveyard of Amida-ji Temple in Kyogoku area. Kien's boshi (epitaph or the record of the life of a deceased person which was inscribed on a slab of stone and placed in the tomb or inscribed on the tombstone) was created by Kiyoshi MATSUURA who composed the sentence and Yasusada HONDA who handwrote it.