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Shin Etsu
Jiang Xingchou; also Toko Shin Etsu, Toko Zenji; Toko Etsu the Monk, etc.
蔣興疇,一名東皋心越、東皋禪士、東皋越杜多等 1
  Shin-Etsu in the Tokyo National Museum 2  
Jiang Xingchou (1639-1695) went from Hangzhou to Japan in 1676. Here, as the Buddhist monk Shin-Etsu, he taught qin to many students. In Japan he also had a number of other names, including Toko Zenji (Zen Master Toko) and Toko Etsu the Monk.3

Born in Puyang, south of Hangzhou,4 Jiang had studied qin with Zhu Xuzhou5 and with Zhuang Zhenfeng.6 Zhuang, from Nanjing but later living in Hangzhou, was well-known as the creator of a number of new qin melodies. His style included both pure music and qin songs. Qinxue Xinsheng (1664) consists mostly of his new melodies.

In 1676 Jiang was living at Yongfu Si, a Chan (Zen) Temple in Hangzhou.7 From here he went to Japan, arriving in Nagasaki in 1677.

In Japan Shin-Etsu originally lived in Nagasaki, but in 1685 he moved to Mito, on the coast northeast of Tokyo. Here he engaged in many scholarly activities and founded Gionji, the Gion Temple.8 He was buried there with great honor after his death in 1695.

It is not clear what qin materials he took to Japan in 1676, but it seems unlikely that he himself ever published a handbook.9 Apparently these included his teacher's Qinxue Xinsheng, as parts of this have been included in writings by his students, and at least one of its pieces (Li Yun Chun Si) has an alternate title (Caotang Yin) that appears in Japanese handbooks.10 He is also known to have recommended Songxianguan Qinpu to students. He may also have found in Japan handbooks brought to Mito by the recently deceased Zhu Shunshui.11

It has been claimed that the pieces included in the handbook called Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu (Wabun Chuyin Kinpu) included pieces Shin-Etsu brought from China; it is thus dated from "before 1676", i.e., from before he arrived in Japan. However, the only surviving copies date from much later and their contents, mostly short songs presumably for beginners, also include a few "Fusang Cao", i.e., melodies he is thought to have created in Japan. From around 1710 there have been a number of Japanese handbooks named after him, the title most commonly being Toko Kinpu (or Toko Kimpu). The earliest of these includes a number of longer pieces as well as more of the Fusang Cao.

It seems likely that at that time many educated Japanese confused the qin with the zheng, an instrument commonly played in Japan, where it is called a koto, and there were few if any qin players. Unlike other Chinese instruments brought to Japan, the qin was never localized. Instead it was generally played in a conscious effort to do something Chinese. This perhaps helps to explain why most Japanese were content to play these fairly simple songs, apparently following the Chinese pronunciations indicated alongside the Chinese characters.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 蔣興疇 Jiang Xingchou (for other names see below)
32570.xxx. There is considerable information on him in R. H. Van Gulik, Lore of the Chinese Lute, pp.217ff. Van Gulik writes his Chinese name as 蔣興儔 Jiang Xingtao. As for 東皋 (as in 東皋心越 Donggao Xinyue), my computer does not have the gao used in the original text (自 over ), but the alternative 東睾 Donggao does not work for internet searching. (There is a similar problem with the gao of He Ming Jiugao.)

Chen Zhimai discusses Van Gulik's research into Shin-etsu as follows,

When (VG) was doing research on the guqin, he became interested in finding out how the guqin and its music were introduced into Japan. It was his contention that a Chinese Buddhist monk named Tung-kao, who came to Japan as a missionary in 1677, was responsible for developing the lore of the guqin in Japan. For many years he painstakingly traced the footsteps of this rather obscure monk, personally visiting all the temples and shrines in which the monk had resided, collecting the monk's writings and relics from old bookshops and curio stores all over the country. The sudden outbreak of the Pacific War forced Dr. van Gulik to leave Japan in a hurry, and much of the materials he so laboriously assembled had to be abandoned. But he managed to carry enough of them to Chungking to publish a select collection of the monk's poems and essays....

2. Image of Shin-Etsu in the 東京國立博物館 Tokyo National Museum
The painting is by 椿椿山 Tsubaki Chinsan (1801-1854; Chinese Wikipedia). It was also downloaded from Chinese Wikipedia.

3. Names for 蔣興疇 Jiang Xingchou in Japan
These include:

  1. 東皋心越 Donggao Xinyue (Toko Shin-Etsu)
  2. 心越 Shin-Etsu
  3. 東皋禪士 Toko Zenji (Zen Master Toko)
  4. 東皋越杜多 Toko Etsu the Monk (杜多 dhuta [sanskrit] = monk; see Entry 321 of Qinshu Cunmu)
  5. 東皋懶衲 Donggao Lanna, Toko the Lazy Monk (Rando? 11722.xxx; see Qing Ping Yue).

All these names may be used at various places in Hewen Zhuyin Qinpu. (Return)

4. "金華浦陽人"; Puyang is a north-flowing river south of Hangzhou. (Return)

5. 褚虛舟 Zhu Xuzhou
No further information.

6. 莊臻鳳 Zhuang Zhenfeng
The table of contents of his Qinxue Xinsheng 琴學心聲 (1664; XII.1) is now here. (Return)

7. Yongfu Temple in Hangzhou (永福寺 Yongfu Si)
Also 永福禪寺. It has a wall with what it says is calligraphy ("雲深處") by Jiang Xingchou (apparently of particular interest to Japanese visitors), and it claims an ancestry of over 1600 years. However, it was eventually abandoned and the modern temple, though of traditional construction, opened in 2008; apparently it retains nothing from the 17th century.

8. 水戶 Mito; 祗園寺 Gion Temple.
Today it is known for its Zen gardens. Shin-Etsu was brought to Mito by 德川光囧 (? last character should have 方 on bottom) Mitsukuni, Lord of Mito. (Not 御津 Mito, which is a different place.) (Return)

9. Tablature brought to Japan by Shin-Etsu 朱舜水 (1600 - 1682)
He would have had tablature for individual pieces and these were presumably hand-copied by or for his students. The compilations all seem to date from after his death. (Return) Caotang Yin

10. Caotang Yin
The piece has the same lyrics as those of the first four sections of Li Yun Chun Si. The music seems to have some relationship but is in fact quite different.

11. Zhu Shunshui 朱舜水 (1600 - 1682)
Zhu Shunshui was a scholar brought to Mito by Mitsukuni in 1665. He evidently brought with him several qins as well as qin handbooks, but it is not known whether he himself actually played. (Return)