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385 KOKUGŌKŌ Motoori Norinaga | 1787 [This is Norinaga’s exposition about the six recorded appellations of Japan, and the origin and meaning of each, demonstrating his breadth of knowledge and textual expertise. This type of work has rarely been attempted, and makes this essay worthy of note. He argues that the older term wa 倭 originated from China, while wa 和 was a Japanese development to soften the semantic sting of the older graph.] ŌYASHIMA There were two names for the imperial land [Japan] used in the divine age; one was Ōyashima and the other was the central land of Ashihara. Kojiki records the name Ōyashima thus, “Izanagi and Izanami wed and gave birth to the child Afadi Fonosa Wake; then they gave birth to Iyo Futana Sima, then to the three islands of Oki, then to the island of Tukusi, then to the island of Iki, then to Sado Island, then to the island of Ofoyamato Toyoakitu . Thus, these eight islands first created by the two kami were called Ofoyasima [Ōyashima].”1 In Nihon shoki, this scene about the birth of the land appears, and though the order of birth of the islands is different from tradition to tradition , the number eight remains the same. The record says, “And this is the origin of the name Ofoyasima.” Originally, the word sima meant a limit around how far one could go, a specified area. Sima has the same root as words like simaru “to close in,” sizimaru “to shrink,” semaru “to get close,” and sebashi “narrow.”2 These words imply an area with defined limits— not unloosed, wide, and free—pulled closely together. Therefore, the word sima originally did not mean just an island in the ocean, but also meant an area enclosed by mountains and valleys inland.3 We see this meaning from the other name that was given, Akitu Sima. And, as the name Ōyashima implies, it can refer to some place that is large, not necessarily limited only to small locations. 1. Compare Kurano and Takeda (1985:55–57). 2. This etymology is flawed, but the extension of the noun to verbs and stative verbs (adjectives) is intriguing, especially since the noun “island” and the other words Norinaga mentioned have a low pitch accent. 3. It is interesting that the word in some languages of the Ryūkyūs means village. 386 Views on Japan/Religion Since the small confines of a piece of land in the middle of the ocean is so stark, people naturally applied the word sima specifically to islands. Now, whether a writer represents the word sima by the character 嶋 or 洲, the meaning is an island in the ocean. Nevertheless, do not make the mistake of thinking that both characters refer to something originally in the middle of the ocean, nor that the word implies something with small confines . Of all the Chinese characters used to represent Japanese words, some accurately reflect the original Japanese meaning, while others only partially reflect the lexical value of the Japanese words. In later eras, people interpreted the meaning of certain words solely by relying on the character employed, and this resulted in many mistaken explanations related to the etymology. Now, the sima of Ōyashima refers to one territory enclosed by the confines of the ocean; we find an example in Nihon shoki, divine age when the three Han [of Korea] are labeled karakuni no sima. Also, a poet referred to the Yamato Province in a poem from Man’yōshū as yamatozima.4 There are also examples of Ōyashima read as yamato simane.5 These all have the same meaning. Now, the reading of yasima “eight islands” means “connected as one territory without being separated by the ocean.” Or, one island with many territories and the number of the territories is eight. The character 八 “eight” (represents the sound ya), which originally meant “increasingly, very,” and at some rather later date, it was interpreted as the actual number eight. It does seem doubtful, however, that a word meaning “increasingly” came to mean a specific number through oral transmission. Nonetheless, the usage of the number eight (ya) is seen in Kojiki, where the interior district and seven provinces are listed. This does not include any of the other islands, and nothing is added or taken away from this number. Thus, the record in Kojiki points to eight actual items, establishing the concrete nature of ya. In the various traditions in Nihon shoki, the editors include other islands in the...


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