Ernst Faber und Japan

Ernst Faber - 1839 - 1899
Herr WU in Hongkong hat uns zum 26.9.2016 den folgenden Aufsatz zur Verfügung gestellt. Faber starb vor 117 Jahren -  viel zu früh. 

Ernst Faber – His unexpected Encounter with Japan

von: WU, Kin Pan
Doktorand der Philosophie an der Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn,
and Pastor of Chinese Rhenish Church, Hong Kong Synod

26th September, 2016 is the 117th annual commemoration day of the missionary Rev. Dr. Ernst Friedrich Ludwig Faber’s (花之安/ pronounces as Fa Ji-On in Cantonese/ Hua Zhi’an in Mandarin, 1839-1899) death, who served in China as a well-known sinologist. However, his ideas were somehow widely spread in the East Asian society, especially in Japan and Korea, because of the rooted Confucian culture in both cultures. In this short passage, I will describe about how Ernst Faber connected to Japan, in the sense of his own impression of Japan and the influence of his literatures on Japan.

A. Faber’s own impression on Japan

Although there were only few direct indications that Faber was deeply interested in Japanese matters, his impression of this country was rather positive. Generally, Faber appreciated Japan’s development after the Meiji Reformation. He thought that Japan was raising her influence “into the position of the Britain of the East”.

After settling in Shanghai, Faber was requested by Allgemeine Evangelisch-Protestantische Missionsverein (AEPMV) to establish missionary work in Shanghai with referencing to the successful experience that Rev. Wilfred Spinner (1854-1919), the first missionary of AEPMV to Japan, had done in Yokohama, Tokyo, and later Kobe. In Rev. Spinner’s diary reported that during the time he stayed in Shanghai in the spring of 1891, Faber often met with him. Indeed, through his notes, Faber arranged to meet many Japanese friends with him. It was also clear that Faber realized surprisingly the language ability of the Japanese in Shanghai. Also, he might participate in the “Shintôtodtenfeier”, which Rev. Spinner mentioned in his own diary.

Faber visited Japan in the summer of 1895 with his AEPMV’s colleagues, first Rev. Heinrich Hackmann and later Rev. Paul Kranz. Dramatically, they had a difficult time because of the damage caused by a severe typhoon. At that time, Faber clearly expressed his frustration, while he could not enjoy the comfortable weather in Unzen, where he had already spent for a week in the previous year. . He originally lived in a “farmhouse” (“Bauernhaus”) at Shinyu, where he enjoyed to discuss about Japanese social problems, natural landscape, florist knowledge, etc. When the „demoniac“ („tobend“) storm began, he had to leave the hotel and took refuge in a domestic house. According to Hackmann, Faber even shouted for help to a captain of a ship. Apart from his own experience in Japan, Faber gained knowledge of several materials from Japan, which benefited his research. As early as in 1874, he stated in his Doctrine of Confucius that a Japanese edition of “Ch 'ien-ku-ssŭ-men” (《千古斯文》) would be referenced. Even so, Faber noticed the coherent Confucian knowledge was preserved in Japan. When he commented the “Gaozi Zhangju Shang’’ (〈告子章句上〉 from Mencius, he cited from the “Shin-ga-ku-to-wa’’ that Rev. H. J. Foss of Kobe told him “the way of instructing the heart’’,

“Men are many, people say,
Yet among the many, pray,
Are there many men?
Listen to me then,
Be a man thyself, O man!
Make as many as you can.’’


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