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.
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.
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.
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.
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".  The process of compilation is usually studied by stylistic analysis of each chapter. Although written in classical Chinese character, some sections use styles characteristic of Japanese editors.
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.
Records possibly written in Baekje may have been the basis for the quotations in the Nihon Shoki. 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. 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. The use of Baekje's place names in Nihon Shoki is another piece of evidence that shows the history used Baekje documents.
Some other sources are cited anonymously as aru fumi (一書; other document), in order to keep alternative records for specific incidents.
Most scholars agree that the purported founding date of Japan (660 BCE) and the earliest emperors of Japan are legendary or mythical. 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. Dates in the Nihon Shoki before the late 7th century were likely recorded using the Genka calendar system.
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.
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) are associated with them. Some 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.
Echi no Takutsu (kanji 朴市田来津) died in 663 at the Battle of Baekgang.
The Nihon Shoki records that in 661, Naka-no-Oe (soon to be the Emperor Tenji) sent a group of generals to help the country Baekje in its fight against Tang China and the kingdom of Silla. In what could almost be considered a side-note, the text states, "Takutsu, Hada no Miyakko, of Lower Shousen rank..." was sent to help Baekje. Echi no Takutsu is said to have died a heroic death at Baekgang, slaying "tens of men."Emperor Jimmu
Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇, Jinmu-tennō) was the first Emperor of Japan, according to legend. His accession is traditionally dated as 660 BC. According to Japanese mythology, he is 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 accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11.Historiography of Japan
The historiography of Japan (日本史学史 Nihon shigakushi) is the study of methods and hypotheses formulated in the study and literature of the history of Japan.
The earliest work of Japanese history is attributed to Prince Shōtoku, who is said to have written the Tennōki and the Kokki in 620 CE. The earliest extant work is the Kojiki of 712. The Nihon Shoki followed by 720. These two works formed the base of a history of the nation based in great part on Japanese mythology, in particular that of the Shinto religion. The works were inspired by Chinese historiography and were compiled with the support of the Japanese state. Five more works between 797 and 901 completed what had begun with the Nihon Shoki; the six are known as the Rikkokushi ("six national histories").
An abandonment of Chinese inspiration and state support marks the historiographical writings of the period from the 9th to 16th centuries. A great number of historical tales called rekishi monogatari and war tales called gunki monogatari appeared, and works such as the shikyō "four mirrors" of the 12th to 14th centuries and The Tale of the Heike of 1371 enjoyed widespread popularity. Other art forms such as Noh theatre and emaki scrolls added to these written works.
Neo-Confucian schools became preeminent at the beginning of the Edo period (1603–1868). They brought a methodology very critical of works such as the Kojiki, but did not contradict the Mandate of Heaven. The most prominent representatives of this are the Hayashi clan and the Mitogaku school. The nativist kokugaku school, inspired by Shinto, returned in the 18th century, driven by the work of Motoori Norinaga. It opposed the Neo-Confucians by seeking to demonstrate the veracity of Shinto mythology, especially of the Age of the Gods and the early emperors, whose existence is doubted.
Japanese historiography opened to Western influences at the end of the 18th century. Rangaku ("Dutch learning"), translations of European works in the mid-19th century, and then the introduction of German historiography of Ludwig Riess in 1887 brought new analytical tools to the various Japanese schools of history. During the period of the Empire of Japan (1868–1947), historians questioned, at the peril of their academic freedom, one of the ideological foundations of the new regime: the place of national myths in the national history.
Marxist ideas were introduced in the 1920s and renewed in the post-World War II period with the work of Hisao Ōtsuka. Themes and research diversified from the 1970s, soon accompanied by a resurgeance of conservative and nationalist approaches.Hoderi
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.
He is called Hoderi no mikoto (火照命) in the Kojiki, and Ho-no-susori no mikoto (火闌降命) or Ho-no-suseri no mikoto (火酢芹命) in the Nihon Shoki.
In Japanese mythology, he appears with his younger brother Yamasachi-hiko (Hoori). When the fish hook he lends to his younger brother is lost at sea, he demands its return rather than to accept any compensation. Later, he is defeated and subjugated by his younger brother, who has obtained mastery of the tides with a magic jewel.Izanagi
Izanagi (Japanese: イザナギ, recorded in the Kojiki as 伊邪那岐 and in the Nihon Shoki as 伊弉諾) is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and his name in the Kojiki is roughly translated to as "he-who-invites". He is also known as Izanagi-no-mikoto or Izanagi-no-Ōkami.Kamiyonanayo
In Japanese mythology, the Kamiyo-nanayo (神世七代, lit. "Seven Generations of the Age of the Gods") are the seven generations of kami that emerged after the formation of heaven and earth.According to the Kojiki, these deities appeared after the Kotoamatsukami. The first two generations were hitorigami while the five that followed came into being as male-female pairs of kami: male deities and sisters that were at the same time married couples. In total the Kamiyonanayo consist of 12 deities in this chronicle.In contrast, the chronicle Nihon Shoki, points out that this group was the first to appear after the creation of the universe. It also states that the first three generations of deities were hitorigami and that the other generations of deities were pairs of the opposite sex. Finally the Nihon Shoki uses a different spelling for the names of all deities.
The last generation formed by Izanagi and Izanami were the couple that would be responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago (Kuniumi) and would engender other deities (Kamiumi).Kofun period
The Kofun period (古墳時代, Kofun jidai) is an era in the history of Japan from about 300 to 538 AD, following the Yayoi period. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes collectively called the Yamato period. This period is the earliest era of recorded history in Japan, but studies depend heavily on archaeology since the chronology of historical sources tends to be distorted.
It was a period of cultural import. Continuing from the Yayoi period, the Kofun period is characterized by a strong influence from the Korean Peninsula; archaeologists consider it a shared culture across the southern Korean Peninsula, Kyūshū and Honshū. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mound dating from this era, and archaeology indicates that the mound tombs and material culture of the elite were similar throughout the region. From China, Buddhism and the Chinese writing system were introduced near the end of the period. The Kofun period recorded Japan's earliest political centralization, when the Yamato clan rose to power in southwestern Japan, established the Imperial House, and helped control trade routes across the region.Kokki
Kokki (国記), alternatively known as Kuni tsu Fumi meaning "National Record", is a historical text purported to have been written in 620 by Shōtoku Taishi and Soga no Umako. It is recorded in the Nihon Shoki, but there are no known extant copies. Assuming that it did in fact exist, it would predate both the Kojiki (712) and the Nihon Shoki (720).
According to the Nihon Shoki, On this year, Hitsugi no Miko and Shima no Ōomi worked together on Tennōki and Kokki, composing the true history of the various court nobles.
During the Isshi Incident in 645, the residence of Soga no Emishi (a successor of Soga no Umako) was burned down. The Nihon Shoki records that the Kokki burned along with the Tennōki, but the Kokki was saved before being destroyed.On the thirteenth day as Soga no Emishi was about to be killed, flames burned the Tennōki, Kokki, and treasures. Fune no Fubitoesaka quickly grabbed the burning Kokki and presented it to Naka no Ōe.
However, this copy or its remains did not apparently survive.
On November 13, 2005, the remains of Soga no Iruka's residence were discovered in Nara, supporting the description found in Nihon Shoki. Researchers speculate whether parts of the Tennōki or Kokki may be found.Kujiki
Kujiki (旧事紀), or Sendai Kuji Hongi (先代旧事本紀), is a historical Japanese text. It was generally believed to have been one of the earliest Japanese histories until the middle of the Edo period, when scholars such as Tokugawa Mitsukuni successfully contended that it was an imitation based on the Nihon Shoki, the Kojiki and the Kogo Shūi. Scholarship on the Kujiki generally considers it to contain some genuine elements, specifically that Book 5 preserves traditions of the Mononobe and Owari clans, and that Book 10 preserves the earlier historical record the Kokuzō Hongi.Ten volumes in length, it covers the history of ancient Japan through Empress Suiko, third daughter of Emperor Kinmei. The preface is supposedly written by Soga no Umako (+626). While it includes many quotes from Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki (720), volumes five and ten contain unique materials. The overall composition is considered as having been compiled between 807 and 936.
The Kujiki contains 10 volumes, but there are 3 false documents also called Kujiki, produced in the Edo period: the 30 volumes Shirakawa edition, Shirakawahon Kujiki (白河本旧事紀) (kept by the Shirakawa Hakuou family), the 72 volumes Enpō edition, Enpōhon Sendai Kuji Hongi Taiseikyō (延宝本先代旧事本紀大成経) (discovered in 1679), and the 31 volumes Sazaki succession edition, Sazaki Denhon Sendai Kuji Hongi Taiseikyō (鷦鷯伝本先代旧事本紀大成経).
The only complete English translation of the Kujiki was made in 2006 by John R. Bentley, who argued based on his examinations of extant manuscripts that the Kujiki was indeed written in the early eighth century CE, before the Kogo Shūi, and as part of the same historiographical movement that produced the Nihon Shoki and the Kojiki. Bentley took the preface, which attributes the work to the early-7th century statesman Prince Shōtoku, to be a later interpolation. In a review for Monumenta Nipponica, Mark Teeuwen criticized Bentley's methodology.Kuni-yuzuri
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.Kuninotokotachi
In Japanese mythology, Kuninotokotachi (国之常立神, Kuninotokotachi-no-Kami, in Kojiki) (国常立尊, Kuninotokotachi-no-Mikoto, in Nihonshoki) is one of the two gods born from "something like a reed that arose from the soil" when the Earth was chaotic. In the Nihon Shoki, he is the first of the first three divinities born after Heaven and Earth were born out of chaos, and is born from something looking like a reed-shoot growing between heaven and earth. He is known by mythology to reside on top of Mount Fuji (富士山).
Kuninotokotachi is described as a hitorigami and genderless in Kojiki, but is described as a male god in Nihon Shoki.
Yoshida Kanetomo, the founder of the Yoshida Shintō sect, identified Kuninotokotachi with Amenominakanushi and regarded him as the primordial god of the Universe.Kuniumi
In Japanese mythology, Kuniumi (国産み, literally "birth or formation of the country") is the traditional and legendary history of the emergence of the Japanese archipelago, of islands, as narrated in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. According to this legend, after the creation of Heaven and Earth, the gods Izanagi and Izanami were given the task of forming a series of islands that would become what is now Japan. In Japanese mythology, these islands make up the known world. The creation of Japan is followed by the creation of the gods (kamiumi).Ne-no-kuni
Ne-no-kuni (根の国, lit. "Land of roots; Land of origin") or Soko-tsu-ne-no-kuni (底根之國, lit. "Distant land of roots") in the Nihon Shoki, also called Ne-no-kata-su-kuni (根之堅洲國, lit. "Borderland of roots) or Haha-no-kuni (妣國, lit. "Land of my late mother") in the Kojiki, refers to a netherworld in Japanese mythology. It is sometimes considered to be identical to Yomi another netherworld in the myths as well as Tokoyo-no-kuni (常世国, lit. "Eternal land"). However, there is no clear consensus on the relationship between these three realms.The god Susanoo is described as the ruler of Ne-no-kuni. There are differing accounts on how he assumed this position:
According to the Kojiki when Izanagi tasked his children with the rule over the various realms: Amaterasu got the "Plain of the High Heaven" (Takama-ga-hara), Tsukuyomi got the "Dominion of the Night" (Yoru-no-wosu-kuni), and Susanoo got the "Sea Plain" (海原, Una-bara). However, Susanoo ignored this command and kept crying over the loss of his dead mother Izanami, such that his weeping lead to death and destruction. As Susanoo wished, Izanagi expelled him to be near his mother in Ne-no-kata-su-kuni. In the previous episodes about Izanami's death this land is called Yomi.
The Nihon Shoki mentions Ne-no-kuni in passing when describing an episode where Susanoo was banished from Takama-ga-hara for various evil acts he committed, and went to a place called (Soko-tsu-)Ne-no-kuni.According to the Kojiki when Ōkuninushi visited Ne-no-kuni and insulted Susanoo he was submitted to overcome three ordeals, one being described to sleep in a house infested with snakes, centipedes and wasps. This is sometimes taken as another hint that Ne-no-kuni is a subterranean realm. One explanation of the myth contrasts the trials of Ōkuninushi to a symbolic death through rites of initiation that cause one to become reborn into a new life. In this story, death doesn't pollute, it regenerates. The land of the dead also contains the forces of life, tama.The Michiae no matsuri (道饗祭) norito is an ancient Shinto prayer asking the gods to prevent the evil beings from Ne-no-kuni-Soko-no-kuni (根國底國) to do any harm. The Minatsuki no tsugomori no ōharae (no norito) (六月晦大祓[祝詞]), also short Ōharae no kotoba (大祓詞), which is performed in the great purification (harae) ceremony of the sixth month locates Ne-no-kuni-Soko-no-kuni in the "Great Sea Plain" (大海原, Ō-una-bara), i.e. the ocean.Yanagita Kunio compared Ne no Kuni to the Niraikanai of the Ryukyuan religion. This paradisaical land is situated beyond the seas.Ninigi-no-Mikoto
Ninigi-no-Mikoto (Japanese: 瓊瓊杵尊), also known as Ame-nigishi-kuni-nigishi-amatsuhiko-hiko-ho-no-ninigi-no-Mikoto (天邇岐志国邇岐志天津日高日子番能邇邇芸命), is in Japanese mythology, the son of Ame no Oshihomimi no Mikoto (天忍穗耳尊) and Takuhadachiji-hime no Mikoto (栲幡千千姫命), and grandson of Amaterasu, who sent him down to earth (Tenson kōrin) to plant rice there. He was the great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu. His wife was Konohanasakuya-hime.Amaterasu sent him to pacify Japan by bringing the three celestial gifts used by the Emperor: the sword Kusanagi, the mirror Yata no Kagami, and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama. These three gifts signify that the Emperor is the descendant of Amaterasu herself. The account of Ninigi being sent to earth appears in the Nihon Shoki.Seven-Branched Sword
The Seven-Branched Sword (Japanese: 七支刀, Hepburn: Shichishitō) is a sword of continental manufacture believed to be identical with the artifact of that name, a gift of the king of Baekje that was bestowed upon a Yamato ruler as a gift who is mentioned in the Nihon Shoki in the fifty-second year of the reign of the semi-mythical Empress Jingū. It is a 74.9 cm (29.5 in) long iron sword with six branch-like protrusions along the central blade. The original sword has been conserved since antiquity in the Isonokami Shrine in Nara Prefecture, Japan and is not on public display. An inscription on the side of the blade is an important source for understanding the relationships between kingdoms of the Korean peninsula and Japan in that period.Shoku Nihongi
The Shoku Nihongi (続日本紀) is an imperially commissioned Japanese history text. Completed in 797, it is the second of the Six National Histories, coming directly after the Nihon Shoki and followed by Nihon Kōki. Fujiwara no Tsugutada and Sugano no Mamichi served as the primary editors. It is one of the most important primary historical sources for information about Japan's Nara period.
The work covers the 95-year period from the beginning of Emperor Monmu's reign in 697 until the 10th year of Emperor Kanmu's reign in 791, spanning nine imperial reigns. It was completed in 797 AD.The text is forty volumes in length. It is primarily written in kanbun, a Japanese form of classical Chinese, as was normal for formal Japanese texts at the time. However, a number of "senmyō" 宣命 or "imperial edicts" contained within the text are written in a script known as "senmyō-gaki", which preserves particles and verb endings phonographically.Tennōki
Tennōki (天皇記), alternatively known as Sumera Mikoto no Fumi, is a historical text purported to have been written in 620 by Shōtoku Taishi and Soga no Umako. It is recorded in the Nihon Shoki, but no extant copies are known to exist.
According to the Nihon Shoki, On this year, Hitsugi no Miko and Shima no Ōomi worked together on Tennōki and Kokki, composing the true history of the various court nobles.
During the Isshi Incident in 645, the residence of Soga no Emishi (a successor of Soga no Umako) was burned down. The Nihon Shoki records that the Kokki burned along with the Tennōki, but only the Kokki was saved.On the thirteenth day as Soga no Emishi was about to be killed, flames burned the Tennōki, Kokki, and treasures. Fune no Fubitoesaka quickly grabbed the burning Kokki and presented it to Naka no Ōe.
In 2005, the remains of a building which may have been Soga no Iruka's residence were discovered in Nara. This discovery is consistent with the description found in Nihon Shoki.The Three Treasures
The Three Treasures (日本誕生, Nippon Tanjō, lit. Birth of Japan) is a 1959 Japanese film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki. The film is based on the legends Kojiki and Nihon Shoki and the origins of Shinto. The film was highest grossing film of 1959 for Toho that year and the second highest grossing domestic production in Japan of the year.Toyotama-hime
Toyotama-hime (豊玉姫) (Japanese for "Lady Bountiful Soul") 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.
Toyotama marries the prince, Luck of the Mountains (aka "Fire-Subside" or Hoori), but returns to the sea when he breaks the vow not to spy on her while she goes through childbirth. The child she gave birth to was Ugayafukiaezu.
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|Major Buddhist figures|
|Seven Lucky Gods|