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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
© Keio University