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Kojiki

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  • Completed: 712
  • Japanese: 古事記 (kojiki)

Along with the Nihon shoki and the various regional Fudoki, the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") is amongst the oldest Japanese histories, and one of the oldest Japanese documents more broadly.

Completed in 712 during the reign of Empress Gemmei, it originated with Emperor Temmu ordering Hieda no Are to learn and compile a history; in 711, Empress Gemmei then ordered a courtier by the name of Yasumaro to gather Hieda's research, assemble it, and present it to her. The document is organized into three volumes, with the first volume relating tales of the gods, and the second and third volumes relating the supposed history of the reigns of the legendary Emperor Jimmu (660 BCE - ?) down through the today more historically verified Empress Suiko (r. 592-628).

While the Nihon shoki was written in the Chinese style and patterned after Chinese official dynastic histories, the Kojiki is seen as representing a more native or indigenous form of Japanese oral history & mythology. For this reason, it was given great prominence by kokugaku scholars of the Edo period, who sought to excavate and recover a more purely Japanese culture and identity.

References

  • David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, 36-39.
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