A Bitter Experience During the Beginning of the Meiji Period
Shortly after the Meiji Restoration, it was thought to be an urgent matter for all Japanese people to feel unity with the state, feel unity as a nation, and have loyalty to the state in order to maintain independence while confronting Western powers. Thus, a movement to educate the people developed, one which we can call a movement to form the “consciousness of the nation” (kokumin ishiki). It placed primary importance on Shinto, and secondary importance upon Buddhism and Confucianism in the government’s great promulgation campaign (taikyō senbu undō). This happened from 1872 to 1875 during the Meiji period (1868–1912). The priests and monks who were engaged in this education movement were called kyōdōshoku and they educated the people according to three standards of instruction (sanjō kyōsoku), which were general principles for educating the people: “to revere the deities and love the state;” “to clarify heavenly principles and the righteous path of men;” and “to humbly serve the emperor and observe the will of the court.” They educated the people accordingly.
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