Kinsei tō’on is a kind of Sino-Japanese reading introduced to Edo (1603-1867) Japan. The rise of kinsei tō’on was closely related to the movement of Ming scholars who traveled East to Japan during the late Ming and early Qing periods, including the interpreters (yakkan), the Ōbaku school of Buddhism, and Tōkō Shin'etsu (1639-1696). While the three sources of tō’on are believed to correspond to Mandarin of the Ming Dynasty with certain dialectal contamination, the root of tō’on’s dialectic reference remains controversial among scholars. Edo-Japanese literature shows evidence of Nanjing or Hangzhou origin, yet even with the aid of preliminary attempts to study the tone values of Ming’s Mandarin, the tone values of tō’on are still untouched. Meanwhile, most scholars paid special attention merely to interpreter-related materials which are most abundant in literature, and pay little attention to the internal difference and complexity of kinsei tō’on.
In order to gain a better understanding of kinsei tō’on, the PI intends to investigate three types of 17th-century musicological materials that happen to speak to the variations of tō’on mentioned above. The three materials are: (1) Gishi Gakufu; (2) Tōkō Kinfu (3) Zenrin Kajyū. The PI attempts to revisit phonological systems of kinsei tō’on as seen in these scores, particularly the nature, expression of voiced consonants and entering tones, and their tone-melody relationships. This is also the first attempt to reconstruct the tone values of tō’on with the aid of musical scores.
It is believed that this project will reinforce the complexity of kinsei tō’on and shed light on its tone values, not to mention a detailed comparison of kinsei tō’on and Ming Mandarin. With the same methodology, similar attempts of reconstructing the tone values of chūsei tō’on (also known as sō'on), which was introduced to Japan during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), will be deemed possible.