Amenomori Hoshu

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Hôshû's grave at Chôju-in temple in Izuhara Town, Tsushima
  • Born: 1668
  • Died: 1755
  • Other Names: 雨森東五郎 (Amenomori Tougorou)
  • Japanese: 雨森芳洲 (Amenomori Houshuu)

Amenomori Hôshû was a prominent Confucian advisor to the lords of Tsushima han.

Originally from Ômi province, he began studying under Kinoshita Jun'an at the age of 18 before later entering the service of Tsushima. At the age of 22, he was recommended by Jun'an to enter the service of that domain, and took up a position at the Tsushima mansion in Edo. Three years later, he was sent by the domain to Nagasaki, where he was to study Chinese. He then traveled to Tsushima at age 26, where he was provided with a residence and a stipend of 200 koku, remaining there in service to the domain for many years.[1]

Hôshû also later traveled to Pusan numerous times, where he studied Korean.[2] One such sojourn in Korea took place in 1712, following the death of Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu. The Korean court dispatched a formal embassy expressing condolences, and Amenomori then spent ten days in Pusan as head of a mission formally expressing gratitude for those condolences; while there, he compiled a volume of notes and thoughts on the character of Korean culture, and its fundamental differences from that of Tokugawa Japan.[3]

In the early years of the 18th century, shogunal advisor Arai Hakuseki, a fellow student of Jun'an, sought to revise much of the protocols and practices used in diplomatic exchanges with Korea. These included abandoning the term taikun ("Great Prince") to refer to the shogun, and the adoption instead of Nihon kokuô ("King of Japan"), a term explicitly rejected by Hayashi Razan in 1635. Amenomori opposed these changes, in part due to his experience (which Hakuseki lacked) in the actual practicalities of negotiation and compromise with the Korean court.[4] In the end, however, his opposition was unsuccessful.[5]

At the age of 57, he was among the extensive Tsushima entourage which escorted the 1711 Korean embassy to Edo. He is seen in numerous paintings and prints depicting the street processions or other aspects of that embassy mission.[5] He served as an interpreter for the 1719 mission to Edo as well.[2]

Throughout much of his career, from the 1690s until as late as the 1740s, Amenomori argued forcefully in support of the importance of Tsushima's trade and diplomatic relations with Korea, fighting for concessions or aid from the shogunate to help support the continuation of these relations. One example of this is seen in 1695, when a severe debasement of the currency by the shogunate damaged Tsushima's ability to offer tribute (or pay for Korean goods) in sufficiently high-quality silver. This problem deepened when a decrease in Korean production of ginseng caused prices of that precious commodity to double. In the end, though, as the result of memorials to the rôjû penned by Amenomori and others, in 1711 the shogunate granted Tsushima special permission to use 80% silver ingots, rather than the further debased ones now standard throughout the realm.[6] Amenomori also argued for the importance of Tsushima's activities for the intelligence information it brought in, via Korea, about events and developments in the outside world; he compared this to loyal service in coastal defense. As a result, after much memorializing, in 1748 the shogunate finally granted Tsushima exemption from obligations to contribute men or materiel to the defense of the port of Nagasaki. In 1753, however, towards the very end of his life, while he may have still been supportive of continued trade relations, Amenomori suggested or supported terminating the practice of sending Korean embassies to Edo. He cited that the missions were too expensive, for the Korean court and various Japanese parties alike, and that they were "not of great benefit to the Japanese realm."[7]

His writings include Kôrin teisei ("Sober Advice on Relations with Korea," 1728) and Rinkô shimatsu monogatari ("Collections on Affairs with the Neighbor," 1731), two works in which he discusses the devastation visited upon Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasions, the lack of honor in initiating the invasions, and the complete lack of victory or benefit for Japan. In short, having led such a career in negotiating with the Korean court, he had some sympathy for their experience, and their situation.[8]

A memorial hall and library dedicated to him, called Hôshû Shoin, operates today in Amenomori's hometown in Shiga prefecture.


Hôshû is buried at Chôju-in temple in Izuhara (formerly Tsushima Fuchû, the castle-town of Tsushima domain) alongside a number of his descendants and successors.[9]

  • Amenomori Tôgorô (Hôshû), 1st head of the house
    • Amenomori Kennojô 雨森顕之允 (Hôkai 鵬海, 1698-1739), eldest son of Hôshû, 2nd head of the house
      • Amenomori Kahei 雨森加兵衛 (Kenan 溳菴, 1727-1763), son of Hôkai, 3rd head of the house
    • Matsuura Sanji 松浦賛治, second son of Hôshû, Confucian scholar in service to Tsushima domain at the domain's kurayashiki in Nagasaki, adoptive son of Matsuura Kashô[10]
    • Amenomori Gentetsu 雨森玄徹 (Seiichi 清一, 1706-1757), third son of Hôshû. Confucian scholar in service to the Sagara clan lords of Hitoyoshi han
  • Amenomori Mozaemon 雨森最左衛門 (Ranshû 蘭州, 1746-1817), second son of Ryûkô 龍岡, 5th head of the house
    • Amenomori Kanbei 雨森寛兵衛 (Kayû 何有), 6th head of the house, adopted
    • Amenomori Hikoichi 雨森彦一 (great-grandson of Hôshû), son of Mozaemon
  • Amenomori Chûtarô 雨森忠太郎 (Kiyoshi 清, Ranzan 蘭山, 1871-1902), 9th head of the house


  1. Plaques on-site at former location of Hôshû's mansion, Izuhara-chô, Tsushima.[1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chôsen tsûshinshi to Okayama, Okayama Prefectural Museum (2007), 58.
  3. Tomonotsu Nakamura ke monjo mokuroku VII, Fukuyama: Tomonoura rekishi minzoku shiryôkan (2012), 62.
  4. Lee Jeong Mi, "Cultural Expressions of Tokugawa Japan and Choson Korea: An Analysis of the Korean Embassies in the Eighteenth Century," PhD dissertation, University of Toronto (2008), 87.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ronald Toby, "Carnival of the Aliens," Monumenta Nipponica 41:4 (1986), 435-436.
  6. Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 60.
  7. Hellyer, 105.
  8. Lee Jeong Mi, 88.
  9. Plaques on-site.
  10. Gallery labels, Tsushima Chosen Tsushinshi Museum.[2]