'Repayment of indebtedness', or 'requital of blessings'. A popular Confucian movement founded by the 'peasant sage' Ninomiya, Sontoku (1787-1856) which spread among farmers. It was similar in many ways to shingaku. Ninomiya taught that carefully planned, rational and productive agricultural or other work was a means of repaying the 'blessings' received from kami, Buddhas, parents and government. In typical Confucian fashion Ninomiya was not concerned with sectarian differences and adopted a completely syncretic approach to kami and buddhas. Comparisons have been drawn between the religio-economic ideology of Hotoku and the 'protestant ethic' described by Max Weber which may in the West have prepared the way for the 'capitalist spirit' paralleled in pre-Meiji Japan before the advent of Western capitalism. After the Meiji restoration Hotoku became popular with the Japanese government who emphasised obligation to the emperor. In 1906 the Home Ministry celebrated Ninomiya's 50th death anniversary by sponsoring hotoku associations in rural communities. The government also erected statues of the boy Ninomiya as an exemplar of moral virtue in school playgrounds.

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