Master Shoin was born the second son of SUGI Yurinosuke Tsunemichi(Mori
clansman), at Matsumoto Village, Hagi, Choshu(Yamaguti Prefecture) on August 4th
in the first year of the Tempo era(1830).
His name was Norikata alias Torajiro. Another name was Gikei. Additional names Shoin or Nijyu-ikkai-Moshi.
His family took service under successive Lords MORI. At the age of six Master Shoin was adopted by the YOSHIDA family of his uncle YOSHIDA. The YOSHIDA family were hereditary instructors in the military arts of the Yamaga school.
Master Shoin lectured lord MORI Takachika on the complete book of scholastic and military arts the age of eleven in the 11th year of the Tempo era(1834).
He won the admiration of the public as a bright boy from his childhood, and was conferred a full master in the military arts of the Yamaga school by HAYASHI Mahito at age eighteen in the 4th year of the Kyoka era(1847).
In the 3rd year of the Kaei era(1850) he pursued various studies at Hirato, Kyushu, and the next year(1851) made a tour of the Tohoku district without permission of the feudal lord. Later he obtained permission of the Clan and the Shogunate to study for ten years in various parts of Japan.
Master Shoin schemed to board the Russian warship of Special Envoy Putyatin who was asking for friendly relations and trade in Nagasaki in the 6th year of the Kaei era(1853), but failed.
The next year in March in the first year of the Ansei era(1854) when Master Shoin was twenty-five years old, he embarked in the U.S. warship of Special Envoy Perry at Shimoda, Izu. However he was refused, and delivered himself to the Shogunate. Consequently he was cast into prison at Tenmacho, Edo and in October was transferred to the Noyama-prison at Hagi.
The U.S. - Japan Peace Treaty in March, the Japan and Britain Peace Treaty in August, the Japan and Russian Peace Treaty in December were respectively concluded. Opponents to the policy of the Shogunate were oppressed, which is what people call the "Mass Execution of the Ansei Era".
Master Shoin advocated "Revere the Emperor and Expel the Barbarians" , having a great concern for his own country , and attempted to cross the sea in order to learn about the situation of the world but in vain. Hence in the 3rd year of the Ansei era(1856), he gave lessons at the Shoka-Sonjuku opened by his uncle TAMAKI Bun-noshin.
Lord II Naosuke became Chief Minister of the Shogun in the 5th year of the Ansei era(1858), and signed the U.S. -Japan Trade Treaty in June.
Master Shoin sent statements of his view on the situation to the feudal lord, his pupils and colleagues, and even attempted to take Lord II's life by way of his direct action.
Master Shoin , practician of reform, appreciated the equality of human beings and formed his own party on his judgement that one can not ignore the great energy of warriors (out of office), farmers and townspersons.
The order for his imprisonment was issued December.
Leaving the Noyama-prison at Hagi in May in the 6th year of the Ansei era(1859), Master Shoin was transferred under guard to the clan mansion at Sakurada, Edo in June.
When he was about to leave Hagi, Master Shoin recited the following poem.
With a firm determination to make this one-way journey,
tears stream more ceaselessly, taking my farewell under the NAMIDA-MATSU(the Tear-Pine Tree).
Master Shoin was questioned by the Shogunate in July and was cast into prison at Tenmacho.
His investigations were held respectively on September 5th and on October 5th.
The written atatement was read out on the 16th. Master Shoin wrote the letters of his last farewell to his father, uncle and elder brother on the 20th.
His last will and testament was written on the 26th.
On the morning of the 27th his crime was declared at Court and he was beheaded on the execution ground of the prison house at Tenmacho.
On the 29th Master Shoin was buried at Jyogyo-An, villa of Kozukahara Eko-in by his disciples. He was thirty years old.
Master Shoin added the following death poem to his letters of his last farewell.
The concerns of parents for their children are deeper than those of children for their parents.
How much will it grieve my parents to hear today's tidings.
The beginning of Master Shoin's last will and testament was the following death poem.
Even if the body of mine fall into decay on the Musashi plain,
I shall leave the Japanese spirit behind me.
Master Shoin recited the following poem just before his execution.
Now I sacrifice my life for my country, however my death is never contrary to the way of loyalty and filial duties.
How immense the universe is !
Only gods know the rightfulness of my will and deeds.
The education by Master Shoin is based on overflowing human love and love for one's country, and is based on the right grasp of the tendancy of the times.
Master Shoin studied with his disciples and gave lessons, taking the lead down a path on which Japan should go in the world, developing each of his disciples' personality and talent irrespective of rank, and dreming of a world in which sincerity and devotion move people.
The breath of a new time arose in the Shoka-Sonjuku and turned out many young figures of outstanding talent who were to bear the destiny of Japan on their Shoulders. People of the wide world have praised for the historical fact.
Master Shoin was born second son of SUGI
Yurinosuke Tsunemichi(Mori clansman)at
Choshu on 4th August in the first year
the Tempo era(1830).
His name Norikata alias Torajiro. Added name, or Nijyu-ikkai-Moshi.
At the age of six, Master Shoin succeeded to the YOSHIDA family who was hereditary instructor in military arts of the Yamaga school.
He advocated "Revere the Emperor and Expel the Barbarians" , having a great concern of his own country, and attempted to cross the sea in order to get at the situation of the world but in vain.
Thereupon he gave lessons in kagaku(military arts, traditional hereditary learning that YOSHIDA family had taken charge of in each generation) at the Shoka-Sonjuku (private school) opened by TAMAKI Bun-noshin, Master Shoin's uncle, and produced many young men of distinguished talent who achieved the great work "the Meji Restoration".
However Master Shoin was implicated in the "Mass Execution of the Ansei Era" and was beheaded on the execution ground in the prison house at Tenmacho, Edo on 27th October in the 6th year of Ansei(1859). He was aged thirty. Four years later in the 3rd year of the Bunkyu era(1863), TAKASUGI Shinsaku, ITO Hirobumi and other who were talented followers of Master Shoin, reburied here to the spot of Wakabayasi, Setagaya-ku.
The site of the Shrine and its whole area was once where the villa of Lord MORI Daizen-Daibu of the Mori Clan(Choshu) was located since the Edo era and is said to have been called "Daibu-yama".
The followers of Master Shoin gathered together in November in the 15th year of the Meiji era, and erected the Shrine by his grave and dedicated it to the spirit of Master Shoin. In this manner his faithful soul was enshrined.
The present main building was constructed in the 2nd year of Showa era(1927) . In recent years the Shrine has received veneration for the God(KAMI) of learning and visitors come from all parts of Japan.
35-1 wakabayashi 4chome Setagaya-ku Tokyo 154-0023 JAPAN