restricted access Kojiki-Den
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417 KOJIKI-­DEN Motoori Norinaga (1798) [One of the great achievements of the Kokugaku movement was Norinaga’s elucidation of Kojiki in Kojiki-­den. A key element to strengthen the essential foundation for the complete evolution of Kokugaku from a nature-oriented, literary movement into one with an ideological purpose was the exposition of a concrete, Japanese Way. A clearer idea of this Japanese Way came about with the exhaustive annotation of Kojiki, a work Norinaga stated held the essence of the ancient Japanese mind. I have included excerpts from Kojiki-­den, starting with his introduction. The majority of the excerpts deal with the critical areas of Shintō.] INTRODUCTION1 In what era did the recording of events from previous eras start in our history ? In the “Richū” chapter of Nihon shoki it says, “Fourth year, autumn, eighth month. The court established recorders in the various provinces for the first time.” Taking this line into consideration, before the era of Kojiki and Nihon shoki, the court already employed historians who kept records. Those records are likely documents from each successive era, but we do not know how far into the past these went. Nevertheless, as they should have recorded things around the time of their individual eras, events of the past should have been recorded, even if only fragmentary. Historical records probably started with this era. Therefore, I believe that when the court compiled Nihon shoki there were already many various records in existence. [This can also be inferred from the fact that there are so many quotes from variant sources in the divine age section of Shoki.] In the twenty-­ eighth year of Emperor Suiko [620], Prince Shōtoku made a compilation with Soga no Umako of Tennōki, Kokki, and the records of the 180 families of the court, including the Omi, Muraji, Tomo Miyakko, and Kuni Miyakko. This is the first instance of historical writing in Japan. Also, in the tenth year of Emperor Tenmu [681], the emperor issued a decree to twelve men, including Prince Kawashima, 1. Norinaga’s original parenthetical material appears in dark brackets [  ], but I have ignored many of the shorter ones without using ellipses. 418 Views on Japan/Religion to compile a record from Teiki and the various accounts of ancient times. Unfortunately these two records have not survived. During the reign of Emperor Genmei, on the eighth day of the ninth month of Wadō 4 [711], the emperor issued an order to Ō no Yasumaro to compile this work, Kojiki. Ō no Yasumaro presented the manuscript to the court in the first month, twenty-­ eighth day of the following year. This is all seen in the preface.2 [This fact is missing from Shoku Nihongi.] Thus, Kojiki is the oldest surviving record Japan possesses. Nihon shoki was presented to the court in Yōrō 4 [720] during the reign of Emperor Genshō, a fact recorded in Shoku Nihongi, so Nihon shoki came about eight years after Kojiki . As a matter of fact, we see from the preface that the compiler left the sentences in Kojiki unornamented, endeavoring to preserve the state of ancient Japan by placing emphasis on the ancient vocabulary. Nevertheless, since Nihon shoki’s compilation, society has lavished praise and respect on Shoki, and there are many people who have not even heard of Kojiki. The cause of this is the study of Chinese works, which scholars and courtiers emphasize as important. The ancient Japanese viewed Chinese things as the most superior, obtaining a strong affinity for anything Chinese, so the court rejoiced in compiling Nihon shoki in the style of Chinese annals, and treated Kojiki as an artless relic that deviated from the true style of national histories. A person I know took offense at this attitude of mine and told me, “Wasn’t Nihon shoki compiled a few years after Kojiki because there were errors in the latter’s text?” My reply was that what he said was not true. The reason both Kojiki and Nihon shoki exist is because the court at the time was terribly fond of Chinese learning, and Kojiki’s text was so bland that they feared the work would seem unbecoming when compared with the histories from China. Also, the contents were shallow and the court soon tired of reading the work, so they ordered a compilation that relied on a variety of works, adopting a chronological system, imitating Chinese records, even adding segments from Chinese texts. With this, they were able to compile a...


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