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Hayashi Razan’s letters in the Keio Institute’s collection

In this step, we look at a book that shows how varied and wide-ranging Razan’s interests were.

Old Book Fig.1 Razan shokan ([Hayashi] Razan’s Correspondence)
Click to take a closer look

Excerpt (original Japanese)

Below is the text of one of the letters (punctuation and voicing marks have been added):

  猶々今日急にならぬ御事に候はば、明日中にうけ給候へば、満足仕候。 其已来、以書中不申上候。御無事御座候哉。此方無相替義候。然者、近日拝北斗申度事御座候。就其不審事申進候。

一 北斗ト申ハ、七星ノ内ニテ候ヤ。但、七星ノ外ニテハイヅレノ星候ヤ。
一 羅睺星・計都星ノ内ニテ候ヤ。惣テ此両星ハイツレノ星候ヤ。
一 属星ノ法ト申候ハ、本命星ヲ本ト仕候ヤ。
一 大属星ノ法ト申候時、七星又ハ、いづれいづれを入申候ヤ。
一 常ニ北斗七星ヲ拝スト、いづれいづれニテ御座候ヤ。

 右条々、以参可申上所に、ちと急にうけ給度存候間、目六御書付にて承度存候。同は、大属星ノ法次第、北斗七星ノ次第、拝見仕度存候。以上 恐惶謹言

                       廿日 道春

English translation

Since last time, I have not written, but I hope you are well. I am well as usual. Recently, I have been wanting to perform my own North Dipper divination, so allow me to ask you about some things that are not clear to me.

  • Is the North Dipper part of the Seven Stars? Which stars other than the Seven Stars does it include?
  • Is it part of the Rahu or Ketu constellations [constellations in Vedic astrology]? And which stars belong to these constellations?
  • Is the Original Destiny Star (honmyōshō) the basis of Genus Star divination (zokushō no hō)?
  • When people speak of the “Great” Genus Star divination, do they refer to the Seven Stars or to other stars, and if so, which ones?
  • Usually, when one performs a divination with the Seven Stars of the North Dipper, which stars does one use?

I really ought to have visited you to ask the above questions in person, but I am in such a hurry to know that I took the liberty to write them. Since I am at it, I would also like to glance at your manuals on Great Genus Star divination and North Dipper divination.

Respectfully, I humbly address you the above.

20th day
Dōshun [other name used by Razan]

P.S. Should other matters require your attention today, I shall be content if you could answer me by tomorrow.

Commentary

Although the addressee of the letter is unknown, the content suggests that it may have been a monk of the Shingon or Tendai sects with expertise in such matters. Also, judging by how insistently Razan asks his questions, they must have been rather intimate.

Star divination was popular in Japan since ancient times and it is interesting to see a lay scholar like Razan wanting to perform a formal divination. It shows that his interests ranged well beyond those of an ordinary scholar of Chinese studies, as to include Buddhism, Shintō, and various other practices.

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This article is from the free online course:

Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books

Keio University

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