A school of thought deriving from Shinto and Confucianism whose development is usually divided into two stages. In the early Edo period (1600-1868) Tokugawa Mitsukuni, lord of the Mito domain (now part of Ibaraki Prefecture), founded the Historical Research Institute, for the purpose of compiling the Dai nihon shi (History of Great Japan). This early phase of the Mito school ended around 1720, when the major part of the Dai nihon shi was presented to the shogunate. The late Mito school began toward the end of the 18th century, and it attempted to find solutions for the internal crisis of the feudal system and the external threat posed by the Western nations. Mito scholars felt that the West would destroy not only Japan's social and political systems but also the true character of the Japanese nation (kokutai). The works of the late Mito school were widely read and constituted the ideological thrust behind the pro-imperial movement during the last critical years before the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate. After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the Mito school served as an important source for later nationalist thought in the period prior to World War II. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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