Hayashi clan

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  • Japanese: 氏 (Hayashi-shi)

The Hayashi were among the chief advisors to the Tokugawa shogunate, playing key roles in shaping the shogunate's fundamental policies in its early decades, and remaining influential throughout much of the remainder of the Edo period.

Prior to the Edo period, the Hayashi served as retainers to Oda Nobunaga.

Hayashi Razan established a Confucian academy in 1630 which would later become the chief Confucian academy in the realm, the Shôheizaka gakumonjo. He also worked to see Neo-Confucianism (in the vein of Zhu Xi) established as the guiding political ideology of the realm, and to combat the influence of Buddhist figures such as Tenkai and Ishin Sûden. He produced a number of significant works on history, genealogy, political philosophy, and religion, working on many of these alongside his son Hayashi Gahô. Razan and Gahô also directly advised the first several Tokugawa shoguns on policy, playing notable roles in shaping fundamental policies such as sankin kôtai and kaikin ("maritime restrictions").

Following Razan's death in 1657, Gahô (also known as Shunsai) succeeded his father as head of the family, and head of the Confucian academy. He continued in his father's vein, producing a number of significant works, and continuing to advise the shoguns. He was then succeeded in turn by his son Hayashi Hôkô (aka Nobuatsu). Hôkô was formally named Hayashi daigaku-no-kami ("Hayashi Head of the University") by Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi in 1691, and was granted a stipend, both of which he was able to pass on to his successors. Tsunayoshi also elevated the academy in official recognition and status.

The school and the family fell into decline following Hôkô's death, but both the school and the family's official position within the shogunate continued to passed down through the generations, and both recovered to some extent later in the period.

Selected Members of the Hayashi clan


  • Frederic, Louis (2002). "Japan Encyclopedia." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Wm. Theodore de Bary, Carol Gluck, and Arthur Tiedemann (eds.), Sources of Japanese Tradition, Second Edition, vol. 2, Columbia University Press (2005), 68-69.