The Shugei Shuchiin School (綜芸種智院)

It is said that the Shugei Shuchiin school was a private facility established by Kukai on January 27, 829, at the residence in Sakyo Kujo in Kyoto, which had been received from FUJIWARA no Mimori, for the purpose of educating the common people and providing comprehensive education in various liberal arts. The Shugei Shuchiin school was originally written as 綜藝種智院 in Chinese characters, but today it's generally written in a new style as 綜芸種智院. Shugei is a general reference to various liberal arts.

A principle in this period was that Daigaku-ryo (the Bureau of Education under the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the Ritsuryo code)--an educational institution of the central government--targeted nobility, while Kokugaku (provincial schools) (educational institution under the Ritsuryo system), as local educational institutions, targeted younger people of gunji (district managers). As shown in the above, social status was regulated and the gate was extremely narrow, although it wasn't always true that the gate was not open to the common people, considering the operational aspect. The major subject at Daigaku and Kokugaku was mainly Confucianism, so Buddhism and Taoism weren't taught there. The major subject at temples was Buddhism, and secular studies such as Confucianism and so on were generally not taught there. Kukai, who tried to move beyond this status quo, wrote 'Shugei Shuchiin School Shiki narabinijo' ("Shoryoshu" (Collected Works of Prose and Poetry of Kukai) with ten volumes) in 828, proposing the establishment of an educational facility that would fully provide school lunches to all students and teachers; where all people could learn whatever their social status, rich and poor alike; and where both secular people and priests could comprehensively learn all manner of thought and liberal arts, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and so on. In order to realize the permanent operation of such an educational facility, Kukai asked many people--including the Emperor, ministers, marquises and high priests of all sects of Buddhism--to provide support and cooperation.

However, it isn't certain how various aspects of Kukai's concept were realized, and some people are dubious as to whether the Shugei Shuchiin school was ever established. The Shugei Shuchiin school was sold after discussions among disciples in 845, ten years after the death of Kukai, because it had become difficult to obtain the desired results. The profit on sale was appropriated for the purchase of the Terada region (in Taki-gun, Tanba Province, later Oyamasho) in order to secure the revenues to foster monks of the Shingon sect at To-ji Temple. Although it is uncertain whether the Shugei Shuchiin school was operated until the sale or its operation had already ceased by that time, the Shugei Shuchiin school is generally considered to have been operated from 829 to 845. Regarding its abolishment, the various reasons cited include revenue shortfalls, a lack of successors, policy change to giving high priority to maintaining the Shingon-shu sect religious group, the unrealistic nature of the concept, the view that the Shugei Shuchiin school was actually a temporary facility to conciliate the people by the Imperial Court, and so on. However, no single theory has been accepted.

[Original Japanese]