A great Chinese scholar who left his mark in Japan

Tan Weiyun
Zhu Shunshui was a great scholar and educator in the late Ming Dynasty.
Tan Weiyun

Zhu Shunshui was a great scholar and educator in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) who refused to serve the intruding Qing (1644-1911) government troops three times. Managing to evade capture, he fled to Zhoushan Island and then took a boat to Japan.

He settled in Japan for 22 years, promoting Chinese culture and lecturing on the Chinese system of rites, music and ordinances.

At that time, Japan strictly banned foreigners' residence due to its maritime ban policy, but Zhu was an exception. The scholar first had his course in Nagasaki, and then moved to Edo (today's Tokyo) at the invitation of Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701), who compiled "The History of Great Japan" that followed the ideology of the Confucius master Zhu Xi (1130-1200) in biographical style.

He advocated the theory of "practical learning and using," cultivating many scholars in Japan. He paid special attention to historiography, and noted that historical writings should be simple, clear and of times consciousness.

Zhu also introduced the techniques of farming, clothes and daily utensil production to the Japanese, and rebuilt the West Lake and Lushan Mountain scenery at Koishikawa Korakuen, today's oldest garden in Japan.

He advocated that China and Japan should live together as equals and enjoy everlasting friendship. The man always wore Ming-style clothes till the day he died in Tokyo. The Japanese set up a memorial hall to worship him in Ibarakiken. His deeds are included into Japanese textbooks.

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