- 'Mito-learning'. The name of the school of Japanese and Shinto studies founded in the Confucian domain of Mito in the mid-Tokugawa period by Tokugawa, Mitsukuni, second daimyO of Mito. It aimed to synthesise Confucian (shushi) and Japanese ideas. The major project of the Mito school was a monumental 243-volume History of Japan (Dai Nihon-shi) only completed in the twentieth century. The work aimed to show that the then-neglected imperial household should be the focus of ultimate loyalty and devotion of the people, transcending ties to family and feudal lord (daimyo). This radical concept of the nation as a 'family state' (kazoku kokka) undermined the feudal Tokugawa system and was to provide the ideological support for the Meiji restoration. Two phases in the development of the Mito school are generally identified; in the early part it was dominated by the intellectual endeavours of Confucian scholars (jusha). Later on as the idea of devotion to the Japanese emperor became central the work was carried on by samurai who had been involved in the administration of the domain. Mito-gaku ideas were revived after the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 and incorporated in ethics textbooks (shushin) which extended the notion of bushido (the way of the samurai) to all subjects of the emperor.See Kokutai no hongi.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.