Nihon Shoki

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Page from a copy of the Nihon Shoki, early Heian period Nihonshoki tanaka version.jpg
Page from a copy of the Nihon Shoki, early Heian period

The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi (日本紀, "Japanese Chronicles"). It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki , the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. The Nihon Shoki was finished in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō no Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Genshō. [1]

Contents

The Nihon Shoki begins with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings (starting with Kuninotokotachi), and goes on with a number of myths as does the Kojiki , but continues its account through to events of the 8th century. It is believed to record accurately the latter reigns of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. The Nihon Shoki focuses on the merits of the virtuous rulers as well as the errors of the bad rulers. It describes episodes from mythological eras and diplomatic contacts with other countries. The Nihon Shoki was written in classical Chinese, as was common for official documents at that time. The Kojiki, on the other hand, is written in a combination of Chinese and phonetic transcription of Japanese (primarily for names and songs). The Nihon Shoki also contains numerous transliteration notes telling the reader how words were pronounced in Japanese. Collectively, the stories in this book and the Kojiki are referred to as the Kiki stories. [2]

The tale of Urashima Tarō is developed from the brief mention in Nihon Shoki (Emperor Yūryaku Year 22) that a certain child of Urashima visited Horaisan and saw wonders. The later tale has plainly incorporated elements from the famous anecdote of "Luck of the Sea and Luck of the Mountains" (Hoderi and Hoori) found in Nihon Shoki. The later developed Urashima tale contains the Rip Van Winkle motif, so some may consider it an early example of fictional time travel. [3]

The first translation was completed by William George Aston in 1896 (English), [4] and the latest one by Seyed Benyamin Keshavarz in 2019 (Persian). [5]

Chapters

The Nihon Shoki entry of 15 April 683 CE (Tenmu 12th year), when an edict was issued mandating the use of copper coins rather than silver coins, an early mention of Japanese currency. Excerpt of the 11th century edition. Nihon Shoki 15 April 683.jpg
The Nihon Shoki entry of 15 April 683 CE (Tenmu 12th year), when an edict was issued mandating the use of copper coins rather than silver coins, an early mention of Japanese currency. Excerpt of the 11th century edition.


Process of compilation

Background

The background of the compilation of the Nihon Shoki is that Emperor Tenmu ordered 12 people, including Prince Kawashima, to edit the old history of the empire. [6]

Shoku Nihongi notes that "先是一品舍人親王奉勅修日本紀。至是功成奏上。紀卅卷系圖一卷" in the part of May 720. It means "Up to that time, Prince Toneri had been compiling Nihongi on the orders of the emperor; he completed it, submitting 30 volumes of history and one volume of genealogy". [7]

Related Research Articles

Emperor Jimmu First emperor of Japan

Emperor Jimmu was the legendary first emperor of Japan according to the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. His accession is traditionally dated as 660 BC. In Japanese mythology, he was a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu, through her grandson Ninigi, as well as a descendant of the storm god Susanoo. He launched a military expedition from Hyuga near the Seto Inland Sea, captured Yamato, and established this as his center of power. In modern Japan, Jimmu's legendary accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11.

Emperor Kinmei Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kinmei was the 29th Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Emperor Suizei Emperor of Japan

Emperor Suizei, also known as Kamununakawamimi no Mikoto (神沼河耳命), was the second legendary emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Suizei is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. A legendary account from the Kojiki states that Suizei became emperor after receiving the title of crown prince by his half brother due to his bravery regarding a murder plot. Suizei's reign started in 581 BC, he had one wife and a sole son who supposedly became the next emperor upon his death in 549 BC.

Emperor Annei Emperor of Japan

Emperor Annei, also known as Shikitsuhikotamatemi no Mikoto (師木津日子玉手見命) was the third legendary emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Annei is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Annei's reign allegedly began in 549 BC, he had one wife and three sons. After his death in 511 BC, his second or third son supposedly became the next emperor.

Emperor Kōshō Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kōshō, also known as Mimatsuhikokaeshine no Mikoto (真津日子訶恵志泥命) was the fifth legendary emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Kōshō is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Kōshō's reign allegedly began in 475 BC, he had one wife and two sons. After his death in 393 BC, his second son supposedly became the next emperor.

Emperor Kōgen Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kōgen, also known as Ōyamatonekohikokunikuru no Mikoto (大倭根子日子国玖琉命) was the eighth legendary emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Kōgen is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Kōgen's reign allegedly began in 214 BC, he had one wife and two consorts whom he fathered six children with. After his death in 158 BC, one of his sons supposedly became Emperor Kaika.

Emperor Kaika Emperor of Japan

Emperor Kaika, also known as Wakayamato Nekohiko Ōbibi no Mikoto (若倭根子日子大毘毘命) in the Kojiki, and Wakayamato Nekohiko Ōbibi no Sumeramikoto (稚日本根子彦大日日天皇) in the Nihon Shoki was the ninth legendary emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Kaika is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Kaika's reign allegedly began in 158 BC, he had one wife and three consorts of which he fathered five children with. After his death in 98 BC, one of his sons supposedly became the next emperor.

Emperor Sujin Emperor of Japan

Emperor Sujin, also known as Mimakiirihikoinie no Mikoto (御眞木入日子印恵命) in the Kojiki, and Mimakiiribikoinie no Sumeramikoto (御間城入彦五十瓊殖天皇) or Hatsukunishirasu Sumeramikoto (御肇國天皇) in the Nihon Shoki was the tenth Emperor of Japan. While Sujin is the first emperor whose existence historians widely accept, he is still referred to as a "legendary emperor" due to a lack of information available and because dates for his reign vary. Both the Kojiki, and the Nihon Shoki record events that took place during Sujin's alleged lifetime. This legendary narrative tells how he set up a new shrine outside of the Imperial palace to enshrine Amaterasu. He is also credited with initiating the worship of Ōmononushi, and expanding his empire by sending generals to four regions of Japan in what became known as the legend of Shidō shogun.

Emperor Chūai Emperor of Japan

Emperor Chūai, also known as Tarashinakatsuhiko no Sumeramikoto (足仲彦天皇) was the 14th legendary Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Both the Kojiki, and the Nihon Shoki record events that took place during Chūai's alleged lifetime. Chūai is the first monarch to ascend the throne who was not a son of the previous Emperor as the latter's only child died young. He is also noted for having his capital in Kyushu, rather than Yamato like his predecessors. The records state that Chūai had a wife named Okinagatarashihime-no-Mikoto, and 2 consorts that all bore him 4 children.

Emperor Richū Emperor of Japan

Emperor Richū, also known as Ōenoizahowake no Mikoto (大兄去来穂別尊) was the 17th legendary Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Emperor Keitai Emperor of Japan

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Amaterasu Goddess of the sun in Shinto

Amaterasu, also known as Amaterasu-Ōmikami or Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami (大日孁貴神) among other names, is the goddess of the sun in Japanese mythology. One of the major deities (kami) of Shinto, she is also portrayed in Japan's earliest literary texts, the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, as the ruler of the heavenly realm Takamagahara and the mythical ancestress of the Imperial House of Japan via her grandson Ninigi. Along with her siblings, the moon deity Tsukuyomi and the impetuous storm god Susanoo, she is considered to be one of the "Three Precious Children", the three most important offspring of the creator god Izanagi.

<i>Kojiki</i> 8th-century Japanese chronicle

Kojiki, also sometimes read as Furukotofumi or Furukotobumi, is an early Japanese chronicle of myths, legends, songs, genealogies, oral traditions, and semi-historical accounts down to 641 concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago, the kami (神), and the Japanese imperial line. It is claimed in its preface to have been composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei in the early 8th century (711–712), and thus is usually considered to be the oldest extant literary work in Japan. 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, they were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual.

Umisachi-hiko (海佐知毘古/海幸彦), in Japanese mythology and folklore, was a deity of the bounty of the sea and enchanted fisherman.

Toyotama-hime (豊玉姫) or Luxuriant-Jewel-Princess is a goddess in Japanese mythology in the episode of the "Luck of the Sea and the Luck of the Mountain" in the Kojiki as well as Nihon Shoki. She is the daughter of the sea deity, Watatsumi.

Mount Miwa

Mount Miwa or Mount Mimoro is a mountain located in the city of Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, Japan. It has been an important religious and historical mountain in Japan, especially during its early history, and serves as a holy site in Shinto. The entire mountain is considered sacred, and is home to one of the earliest Shinto shrines, Ōmiwa Shrine. Several burial mounds from the Kofun period can be found around the mountain.

Emperor Itoku Emperor of Japan

Emperor Itoku, also known as Ōyamatohikosukitomo no Mikoto (大倭日子鉏友命) was the fourth legendary Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Very little is known about this Emperor due to a lack of material available for further verification and study. Itoku is known as a "legendary emperor" among historians as his actual existence is disputed. Nothing exists in the Kojiki other than his name and genealogy. Itoku's reign allegedly began in 510 BC, he had one wife and two sons. After his death in 477 BC, his first son supposedly became the next emperor.

Takemikazuchi

Takemikazuchi (建御雷/武甕槌) is a deity in Japanese mythology, considered a god of thunder and a sword god. He also competed in what is considered the first sumo wrestling match recorded in history.

<i>Kuni-yuzuri</i>

The kuni-yuzuri (国譲り) "Transfer of the land" was a mythological event in Japanese prehistory, related in sources such as the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. It relates the story of how the rulership of Japan passed from the earthly kami (kunitsukami) to the kami of Heaven (amatsukami) and their eventual descendants, the Imperial House of Japan.

Ōmononushi

Ōmononushi is a kami in Japanese mythology associated with Mount Miwa in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. He is closely linked in the imperial myth cycle recorded in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki with the earthly kami Ōkuninushi (Ōnamuchi); indeed, the latter text treats 'Ōmononushi' as another name for or an aspect - more precisely, the spirit or mitama - of Ōnamuchi.

References

The Nihon Shoki is a synthesis of older documents, specifically on the records that had been continuously kept in the Yamato court since the sixth century. It also includes documents and folklore submitted by clans serving the court. Prior to Nihon Shoki, there were Tennōki and Kokki compiled by Prince Shōtoku and Soga no Umako, but as they were stored in Soga's residence, they were burned at the time of the Isshi Incident.

The work's contributors refer to various sources which do not exist today. Among those sources, three Baekje documents (Kudara-ki, etc.) are cited mainly for the purpose of recording diplomatic affairs. [8] Textual criticism shows that scholars fleeing the destruction of the Baekje to Yamato wrote these histories and the authors of the Nihon Shoki heavily relied upon those sources. [9] This must be taken into account in relation to statements referring to old historic rivalries between the ancient Korean kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje.

Some other sources are cited anonymously as aru fumi ("一書; other document), in order to keep alternative records for specific incidents.

Exaggeration of reign lengths

Most scholars agree that the purported founding date of Japan (660 BCE) and the earliest emperors of Japan are legendary or mythical. [10] [ failed verification ] This does not necessarily imply that the persons referred to did not exist, merely that there is insufficient material available for further verification and study. [11] Dates in the Nihon Shoki before the late 7th century were likely recorded using the Genka calendar system. [12]

For those monarchs, and also for the Emperors Ōjin and Nintoku, the lengths of reign are likely to have been exaggerated in order to make the origins of the imperial family sufficiently ancient to satisfy numerological expectations. It is widely believed that the epoch of 660 BCE was chosen because it is a "xīn-yǒu" year in the sexagenary cycle, which according to Taoist beliefs was an appropriate year for a revolution to take place. As Taoist theory also groups together 21 sexagenary cycles into one unit of time, it is assumed that the compilers of Nihon Shoki assigned the year 601 (a "xīn-yǒu" year in which Prince Shotoku's reformation took place) as a "modern revolution" year, and consequently recorded 660 BCE, 1260 years prior to that year, as the founding epoch.

Kesshi Hachidai

For the eight emperors of Chapter 4, only the years of birth and reign, year of naming as Crown Prince, names of consorts, and locations of tomb are recorded. They are called the Kesshi Hachidai ("欠史八代, "eight generations lacking history") because no legends (or a few, as quoted in Nihon Ōdai Ichiran [ citation needed ]) are associated with them. Some[ which? ] studies support the view that these emperors were invented to push Jimmu's reign further back to the year 660 BCE. Nihon Shoki itself somewhat elevates the "tenth" emperor Sujin, recording that he was called the Hatsu-Kuni-Shirasu ("御肇国: first nation-ruling) emperor.

See also

Notes

  1. Aston, William George (July 2005) [1972], "Introduction", Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD 697 (Tra ed.), Tuttle Publishing, p. xv, ISBN   978-0-8048-3674-6 , from the original Chinese and Japanese.
  2. Equinox Pub .
  3. Yorke, Christopher (February 2006), "Malchronia: Cryonics and Bionics as Primitive Weapons in the War on Time", Journal of Evolution and Technology , 15 (1): 73–85, archived from the original on 2006-05-16, retrieved 2009-08-29
  4. Yasumaro no O.Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697.William George Aston.London.Transactions and proceedings of the Japan Society.2006
  5. Yasumaro no O.Nihon Shoki.Seyed Benyamin Keshavarz.Tehran.Mahvare.2019
  6. 日本の歴史4 天平の時代 p.39, Shueisha, Towao Sakehara
  7. Kokushi Taikei volume2, Shoku Nihongi National Diet Library.
  8. Sakamoto, Tarō. (1991). The Six National Histories of Japan: Rikkokushi, John S. Brownlee, tr. pp. 40–41; Inoue Mitsusada. (1999). "The Century of Reform" in The Cambridge History of Japan, Delmer Brown, ed. Vol. I, p.170.
  9. Sakamoto, pp. 40–41.
  10. Rimmer, Thomas et al. (2005). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, p. 555 n1.
  11. Kelly, Charles F. "Kofun Culture," Japanese Archaeology. April 27, 2009.
  12. Barnes, Gina Lee. (2007). State Formation in Japan: Emergence of a 4th-Century Ruling Elite, p. 226 n.5.

References

(Nihongi / Nihon Shoki texts)
(Secondary literature)