Kojiki (古事記, "Records of Ancient Matters" or "An Account of Ancient Matters"), also sometimes read as Furukotofumi, is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century (711–712) and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei with the purpose of sanctifying the imperial court's claims to supremacy over rival clans. The Kojiki is a collection of myths, early legends, songs, genealogies, oral traditions and semi-historical accounts down to 641 concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago, and the Kami (神). The myths contained in the Kojiki as well as the Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) are part of the inspiration behind many practices. Later, the myths were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual.
Emperor Tenmu ordered Hieda no Are to memorize stories and texts from history, many of which appear to have been, until the creation of the Kojiki, commonly known oral traditions. Beyond this memorization nothing occurred until after Empress Jitō and Emperor Monmu had both passed and Empress Genmei came to reign. According to the Kojiki, Empress Genmei on the 18th of the 9th month of 711 ordered the courtier Ō no Yasumaro to record what had been learned by Hieda no Are. He finished and presented his work to Empress Genmei on the 28th of the 1st month of 712.
As evidenced in the preface of the Kojiki, which states the purpose of its creation as "to erase falsehoods and establish truth", the Kojiki, as well as the Nihon Shoki, were works created with the primary purpose of furthering the imperial agenda. Created not long after the conclusion of the tumultuous Jinshin Rebellion, the Kojiki establishes a pro-Yamato narrative of history which combined with what would become the officially accepted imperial narrative, the Nihon Shoki, would help secure both a historical as well as a divine legitimacy and superiority to a dynasty which would survive up to the atomic era. This historical narrative is clearly broken into the Age of Gods and the Age of Human Emperors, wherein the mythology of the gods which gave birth to the land is told and is transitioned in a chronological fashion to the reign of the emperors, who descend from these same gods. This narrative clearly sets forth the divine mandate by which the Yamato line has right to rule, and through the rhetoric used in the Age of Human Emperors, much of it borrowed from Chinese sources, the historical and military qualifications were likewise established. Several of the narratives which give support to the imperial line, such as the subjugation of certain Korean Empires, have been confirmed as historically false and were included merely to erase failures and bolster reputations of emperors past. Vast amounts of the Age of Human Emperors is spent recounting genealogies, which served not only to give age to the imperial family, which was likely much newer than the Kojiki claims as little evidence has been found to support the existence of early emperors, but also served to tie, whether true or not, many existing clan's genealogies to their own. Regardless of the original intent of the Kojiki, it finalized and possibly even formulated the framework by which Japanese history was examined in terms of the reign of emperors.
The Kojiki contains various songs and poems. While the historical records and myths are written in a form of Chinese with a heavy mixture of Japanese elements, the songs are written with Chinese characters, though only used phonetically. This special use of Chinese characters is called Man'yōgana, a knowledge of which is critical to understanding these songs, which are written in Old Japanese.
The Kojiki is divided into three parts: the Kamitsumaki (上巻 "first volume"), the Nakatsumaki (中巻, "middle volume") and the Shimotsumaki (下巻, "lower volume").
- The Kamitsumaki, also known as the Kamiyo no Maki (神代巻, "Volume of the Age of the Gods"), includes the preface of the Kojiki, and is focused on the deities of creation and the births of various deities of the kamiyo (神代) period, or Age of the Gods. The Kamitsumaki also outlines the myths concerning the foundation of Japan. It describes how Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu and great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, descended from heaven to Takachihonomine in Kyūshū and became the progenitor of the Japanese imperial line.
- The Nakatsumaki begins with the story of Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor, and his conquest of Japan, and ends with the 15th Emperor, Emperor Ōjin. The second through ninth emperors' reigns are recorded in a minimum of detail, with only their names, the names of their various descendants, and the place-names of their palaces and tombs listed, and no mention of their achievements. Many of the stories in this volume are mythological, and the allegedly historical information in them is highly suspect. Recent studies support the view that these emperors were invented to push Jimmu's reign further back to the year 660 BC.
- The Shimotsumaki covers the 16th to 33rd emperors and, unlike previous volumes, has very limited references to the interactions with deities. These interactions are very prominent in the first and second volumes. Information about the 24th to the 33rd emperors is largely missing, as well.
What follows is a condensed summary of the contents of the text, including many of the names of gods, emperors, and locations as well as events which took place in association to them. The original Japanese is included in parentheses where appropriate.
- The handing down of old folklore and its significance
- Emperor Tenmu and setting out the Kojiki
- Ō no Yasumaro compiling the Kojiki
The Kamitsumaki (上巻), or first volumeEdit
The Nakatsumaki (中巻), or second volumeEdit
The Shimotsumaki (下巻), or final volumeEdit
- Chamberlain, Basil Hall. 1882. A translation of the "Ko-ji-ki" or Records of ancient matters. Yokohama, Japan: R. Meiklejohn and Co., Printers. (www.sacred-texts.com)
- Philippi, Donald L. 1968/1969. Kojiki. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press and Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. (ISBN 978-0691061603)
- Heldt, Gustav. 2014. The Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters. New York: Columbia University Press. (ISBN 978-0-231-16389-7)
There are two major branches of Kojiki manuscripts: Ise and Urabe. The extant Urabe branch consists of 36 existing manuscripts all based on the 1522 copies by Urabe Kanenaga. The Ise branch may be subdivided into the Shinpukuji-bon (真福寺本) manuscript of 1371–1372 and the Dōka-bon (道果本) manuscripts. The Dōka sub-branch consists of:
- the Dōka-bon (道果本) manuscript of 1381; only the first half of the first volume remains
- the Dōshō-bon (道祥本) manuscript of 1424; only the first volume remains, and there are many defects
- the Shun'yu-bon (春瑜本) manuscript of 1426; one volume
The Shinpukuji-bon manuscript (1371–1372) is the oldest existing manuscript. While divided into the Ise branch, it is actually a mixture of the two branches. The monk Ken'yu based his copy on Ōnakatomi Sadayo's copy. In 1266, Sadayo copied volumes one and three, but did not have access to the second volume. Finally, in 1282, he obtained access to the second volume through a Urabe-branch manuscript that he used to transcribe.
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- Duthie, Torquil. Man'yoshu and the imperial imagination in early Japan. Leiden. ISBN 9789004251717. OCLC 864366334.
- Habersetzer, Gabrielle & Roland (2004). Encyclopédie technique, historique, biographique et culturelle des arts martiaux de l'Extrême-Orient. Amphora. p. 380. ISBN 2-85180-660-2.
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- Jaroslav Průšek and Zbigniew Słupski, eds., Dictionary of Oriental Literatures: East Asia (Charles Tuttle, 1978): 140-141.
- Reader, Ian (2008). Simple Guides: Shinto. Kuperard. p. 33,60. ISBN 1-85733-433-7.
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- Brownlee, John S. (1991). Political Thought in Japanese Historical Writing: From Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712). Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. (ISBN 0-88920-997-9)
- Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten Henshū Iinkai (1986). Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 4-00-080067-1.
- Ono, Motonori Shinto: The Kami Way
- Starrs, Roy (2005). "The Kojiki as Japan's National Narrative", in Asian Futures, Asian Traditions, edited by Edwina Palmer. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental, ISBN 1-901903-16-8
- Yamaguchi, Yoshinori; Takamitsu Kōnoshi (1997). Nihon Koten Bungaku Zenshū: Kojiki. Tōkyō: Shogakukan. ISBN 4-09-658001-5.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- (in Chinese) 古事記 [Kojiki]. Wikisource. Original Text of the Kojiki.
- (in English) Chamberlain's translation of Kojiki:
- (in English) Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
- (in English) Basic Terms of Shinto Kokugakuin University
- (in Japanese) Online original text of the Kojiki and other texts
- (in Japanese) Waseda University Library: 1644 manuscript, three volumes