TANI Sanzan: Deaf scholar in late Edo period

Tani Sanzan
There are two well-known Deaf scholars, TANI Sanzan and UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin, both who influenced Yoshida Shoin on the nature of Nation, in the late Edo period.

TANI Sanzan (1802-1868) was a Confucian scholar who  educated many students in the later half of the Edo era.

He was born as the third son to the parents who owned a wealthy sake brewery in Yamatonokuni, one of the Japanese feudal countries (now Nara Prefecture).

Sanzan was weak, easily to get sick in the childhood. His eyes and ears suffered at the age of 11. His eyes recovered, but he lost hearing and became completely deaf at the age of 14.

He strove for study of the official Japanese history book. Since he was Deaf, it was impossible for him to take lessons from a hearing teacher, either, but he studied through books by himself. It is said that he read through thousands of volumes in 20 years.

Sanzan went out to Kyoto in 1829 and studied under a Confucian scholar named IGAI Keisho.

Sanzan opened a private school and educated many students including YOSHIDA Shoin in around 1835. Later his feudal lord of the Takatori clan in Nara Prefecture ranked Sanzan as a samurai-scholar.

Sanzan lost sight completely at the age of 48 by the relapse of the eye disease, unable to do reading and the conversation. He always sat leaning against the desk, and waited for a student coming. When the student came and knocked the desk, Sanzan held the hand. The poetry verses and the sutra were written on the palm while Sanzan lectured and discussed.

From that time, Sanzan criticized the policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate severely from the idea of reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians (foreigners). He argued with Yoshida Shoin, who had a Deaf-mute brother, and others in writing for a long time in May, 1853.

Sanzan published his idea and theory on "reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians."

When Commandore Perry, dispatched by U.S.President, came to Japan with the warships in September, 1853, Sanzen wrote a book and argued, "It is improper definitely for Japan to accept Perry's threatening demands to open the country."

Moreover, Sanzan presented research of Siam, China, etc., and many other laborious works.

Two months after the Tokugawa shogunate was dissolved in October, 1867, Sanzan passed away at the age of 66 on on December 11.

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