From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

Japanese: 攘夷 (joui)

Jôi literally means "Expel the Barbarians", and was usually used as part of "Sonnô Jôi" ("Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians") as a political slogan during the Bakumatsu period.


The term originates in the Spring and Autumn Annals, as the Chinese zūnwáng rǎngyí,[1] and is expanded upon in the Neo-Confucian writings of Zhu Xi (1130-1200), who wrote of "revering the Zhou dynastic house, and sweeping away (or eradicating) what is barbarian." This comes in a commentary on a passage from the Analects of Confucius in which Confucius praises Guan Zhong for helping Duke Huan of Qi rectify customs & prevent the common people from adopting foreign (barbarian) ways of doing things; this, despite the fact that Guan effected this violently and harshly, and not through the more ideal methods of benevolent rule. Still, Confucius writes, if not for Guan Zhong, "we might well be wearing our hair down and folding our robes to the left."[2]

The emphasis is thus on ensuring the maintenance of civilized Confucian etiquette and values, and on eliminating barbaric customs, rather than explicitly referring to any expulsion of foreign individuals. Prior to 1825 or so, Japanese thinkers likely associated the term jôi chiefly or exclusively with this meaning. As Tokugawa era Confucian scholar Itô Jinsai interpreted this idea, "a ruler performed the act of jôi by morally transforming alien peoples and preventing his own people from adopting alien ways; he eradicated what is culturally barbarian and ensured that customs in his land conformed to Middle Kingdom ritual and righteousness."[3] It was only in the 1790s that this "cultural" concept of jôi, as Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi refers to it, began to transform into a more militaristic notion.


It was in the 1790s that writers such as Aizawa Seishisai and Fujita Yûkoku began to write about the danger of European missionaries and/or military forces making inroads into Japan. In particular, Yûkoku expressed concern that "should the Russian barbarians entice our stupid commoners with their wicked [Christian] teachings and sugar-sweet words," Japan would potentially fall. He wrote, "the barbarians will advance like lightning by sea and land."[4]

The Mito school in particular began to describe Westerners as "rapacious barbarians intent on capturing the hearts and minds of 'stupid' Japanese commoners," praising the decision by early Tokugawa shoguns to expel the Christians in the 1630s, and advocating the use of military force to defend Japan.[5]


  • Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, Anti-Foreignism and Western Learning in Early Modern Japan, Harvard University Press (1992), 20-21.
  1. Crossley, Pamela Kyle. A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology. University of California Press, 1999, 252.
  2. Wakabayashi, 20.
  3. Wakabayashi, 27.
  4. Wakabayashi, 55.
  5. Wakabayashi, 55-56.