During the 1970's there has been a boom in the number of commentaries written about Japanese culture. But, this phenomenon is by no means new, as its roots can be traced back to the Meiji Restoration. In the intervening one hundred years from then up to now there has been a great deal of commentary on Japan, the Japanese people, and Japanese culture. During these hundred years the successive booms in commentary on Japanese culture have passed through seven stages. The first stage saw a spate of comments seeking to bring enlightenment (文明開化) to Japanese culture. in the 1870's. Aimed at the westernization of Japan, these critiques attacked quite harshly the excessive authoritarianism that ran throughout Japanese society. The second stage was the nationalistic stage of the 1890's, which re-evaluated truth, goodness, and beauty in traditional Japanese terms. The third stage came around 191O, and it recognized Japan to be a "one-family state" while also seeking to understand Japan from the viewpoints of "region," "people," and "everyday life" as in folklore and Okinawan studies. The fourth stage arose in the 1930's with the fascist concept of "returning to the essence of Japan" and with all sorts of theories that opposed this concept. The remaining three stages came after World War II, with the fifth stage of commentary on Japanese culture starting in the late 1940's and early 1950's. The world of journalism was as warm with articles about a modernistic understanding of Japan, and then later there came some other articles arguing for the impurity of Japanese culture. The sixth stage came in the 1960's with commentaries on Japanese modernization (these originated often in America) and the revival of the Japanese conception of a national polity. However, other studies sought to penetrate deeply into the traditions of the Japanese people. The most recent stage, that of the 1970's contains comments on the indulgence (甘さ) of the Japanese people and also opposing comments, based on the viewpoint of the outlying districts, which have now become popular. During the modern history of Japan the periods when a lively debate on Japanese culture existed were when the foreign impact on Japan was strong (stages one and five) and When popular movements subsided (stages two, three, four, six, and seven).
u-ren who passed the xiang-shi (郷試) exams in the Ming dynasty had not only the qualification of being able to take the Hui-shi (会試) examination all their lives but also the social status of one who has entered the National University (国子監) and thus the chance of being appointed to office. The aim of this article is to verify, from a legal point of view, 1that from the mid-Ming the Ju-ren, even before their appointment to office, had, while living in the countryside, been forming a new status stratum among the local elite. In the Hong-wu and Yong-le eras (i.e., 1368-1424) a few Ju-ren returned home without entering the National University even though they had a chance of being appointed to office. Most Ju-ren who failed in the Hui-shi exams were Ju-ren jian-sheng (挙人監生) attending the National University. But, in the first half of the fifteenth century Ming fiscal difficulties compelled Ju-ren attending the National University to return temporarily to their permanent place of residence. After the Cheng-hua and Hong-zhi eras (i.e., 1465-1505) most Ju-ren refused to re-enter the National University, and in spite of penal rules they chose to return home in face of the difficulty they had in acquiring an official post and in meeting the requirements of the Hui-shi exams. From the second half of the fifteenth century most Ju-ren stayed in their native area regardless of whether or not they entered the National University. Certain examination system regulations were applied to them, because they were politically very active. They pressed illegal demands on influential people inside and outside of the local yamens in rural society. In 1605 the proscription forbidding those punished for violations involving entrance or return to the National University from taking the Hui-shi exams took effect. The emperor did away with regulations compelling Ju-ren to enter the National University, and he allowed them to stay in their local area while he adopted new regulations for recommendations and evaluation of their merits. At the same time he tried to use the Xun-an yu-shi (巡按御史) to strengthen management of the Ju-ren. But by the end of the Ming such management of Ju-ren residing in their local area was no longer functioning.