Myogyodo (明経道)

Myogyodo was a department that studied and instructed on Confucianism as part the Daigakuryo, an educational institution under the Ritsuryo system (the system of centralized administration established by the ritsuryo legal codes) of Japan.

It was originally a regular course in the institute and had no particular name. From the Nara period, the study of Confucianism was sometimes called Myogyo, but as other departments came to end with the suffix '-do' (the character used was "道" literally meaning "the way") (such as Kidendo [study of the histories], Myohodo [study of codes], Sando [study of mathematics] and Shodo [calligraphy]) during the early Heian period, Myogyo came to be called Myogyodo. The Myogyodo department consisted of a Myogyo hakase (Professor of Confucianism), two assistant professors, four Myogyo Tokugyosho (honor students) and 400 Myogyosho (students); the number of students was fixed and never increased throughout the Heian period. The following eleven books were established as the major Myogyo textbooks during the Heian period: the three Sankyo (three classics on Confucianism) called Shikyo, Shokyo and Ekikyo; the three Sanrai (three classical texts on rites) called Shurai, Girai and Raiki; the three Sanden (three classics on a Chinese history book "Shunju") called Shunju Sashiden, Shunju Kuyoden and Shunju Kokuryoden; as well as the "Rongo" and "Kokyo." Although it was a general rule that students needed to study at least two books other than the two compulsory books "Rongo" and "Kokyo" and pass the Myogyoshi (the Myogyo examination - later revised into the "Myogyo Tokugyoshi") before being appointed and conferred a rank, there were many reported cases of students receiving their rank and appointment without taking the test. There were a total of ten questions in the Myogyo examination, three questions from each of the two compulsory books and three or four questions from two other books; in order to pass the test, students were required to correctly answer six questions.

During the early Heian period, Myogyodo separated into the two schools called "Sanraigaku" and "Sandengaku" and debates took place between them; the arguments stagnated after the middle of the Heian period, however, once Myogyodo itself came to have the characteristics of a training course for becoming a professional on Confucianism. Myogyodo lost its position as a regular course due to the position of Monjo hakase (Professor of Literature; a position that was originally affiliated with Myogyodo as a lecturer), who handled Kidendo, was placed higher than Myogyo hakase. Even so, Myogyodo retained itself as a regular course, and in 969, a Myogyo hakase named Yuzo Toichi (十市有象) (the founder of the Nakahara clan) wrote an official letter that included a sentence criticizing Kidendo and Myohodo as 'small courses' (this letter is included in "Ruiju Fusensho" [A collection of official documents dating from the years 737 to 1093]). Furthermore, there were many cases of students from other departments, such as Monjo (Literature), taking courses on Myogyodo since the subject had become a required general subject. In 993, as a result of the Myogyo hakase NAKAHARA no Munetoki applying to put eight to ten students in the position of Myogyo Monjasho (students in a secondary position to Tokugyosho), these students were able to receive qualification as government officials like Tokugyosho if they passed the examination.

Before long, the position of Myogyodo lecturer became conventionally inherited by the Nakahara and Kiyohara clans and Myogyodo itself became the study of Kunkogaku (annotation and interpretation of classical books) as well. During the Edo period, the Funabashi and Fusehara families, as descendants of the Nakahara clan, inherited the position of hakase (professor); the inherited position was in name only, however, since it had become the golden days of the newly emerged Sogaku (Song-period neo-Confucianism).

[Original Japanese]