Kojiki

From Academic Kids

Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記) is the oldest known historical book about the ancient history of Japan. Literally, it means "records of past things".

According to the preface, the book was presented by O no Yasumaro based on the story memorized by Hieda no Are in 712 under the order of the Imperial Court. Nihonshoki followed the book.

Kojiki does not recount official history like the Nihonshoki. Except for the Kojiki, no other book has claimed that it had been organized following an official order. This had led some people to claim that Kojiki was forged much later from the Nihonshoki but this claim has little support. The name Kojiki is likely to be just a name pointing to old books.

Kojiki begins with the very beginning of the world as it was constructed by deities and ends with the era of Empress Suiko and contains various myths and legends. It also contains various songs. While historical records and myths are written in unique Chinese, songs are written with Chinese characters but using them only to convey sounds of songs. This special use of Chinese characters is called Manyougana and is a knowledge critical to understanding these songs. These songs are in the dialect of the Yamato area from about 7-8th centuries AD and is called Joudai Nihongo, lit. "The upper age's Japanese". It is written using 13 different syllables, with two alternate pronunciations of each, totaling 39 written forms. The current basic Japanese writing form, hiragana has 46 characters, 20 additional pronunciations, and 5 additional pronunciations, totaling 71 written forms.

Kojiki is divided into three parts, Kamitsumaki (lit. upper roll), Nakatsumaki (lit. middle roll), and Shimotsumaki (lit. lower roll). The Kamitsumaki includes the preface and is focused on deities that made Japan and the birth of deities. The Nakatsumaki begins with the story of the first emperor's conquest of Japan and ends with 15th emperor, Ounin. Many of the stories it includes are mythological as well as historical. For unknown reasons, the 2nd to 9th emperors are listed but their achievements are largely missing. The Shimotsumaki includes the 16th to 33rd emperors, and unlike previous volumes, has very limited interaction with deities that had been so prominent in the first and second volumes. The 24th to 33rd emperors are largely missing as well.

In the Edo era, Motoori Norinaga studied Kojiki with publishing Kojiki-den. Also, it was first claimed in the same era that Kojiki's may have been forged later than it was supposed to have been written.

A well-regarded English translation of Kojiki was written by Donald L. Philippi from Columbia University Press, October 1982. ISBN 0-86008-320-9de:Kojiki fr:Kojiki ko:고지키 ja:古事記 pl:Kojiki pt:Kojiki sv:Kojiki

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