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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]


  1. ^ Bender, Ross (March 2009), "Performative Loci of Shoku Nihongi Edicts, 749–770", Journal of Oral Tradition, 24 (1), pp. 249–268
  2. ^ Rikkokushi (『六国史』), by Tarō Sakamoto (坂本太郎) (Yoshikawa Kobunkan (吉川弘文館), 1970, republished 1994)
  3. ^ Motosawa, Masafumi (2007-03-28). "Senmyō". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Retrieved 2012-02-27.

External links

An (Shinto)

The an (案) is a small table, desk or platform used during Shinto ceremonies to bear offerings. It may have four, eight or sixteen legs; the eight-legged variety, called hassoku-an or hakkyaku-an (八足案, 八脚案, lit. "eight-legged table"), is the most common.


Bodhisena (Sanskrit: बोधिसेन; Chinese and Japanese: 菩提僊那; 704–760) was an Indian Buddhist scholar and monk known for traveling to Japan and establishing the Kegon school, the Japanese transmission of the Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism.

His stay has been noted in the official history records called the Shoku Nihongi, where he is referred to as Bodai-Senna.

Fujiwara no Hirotsugu rebellion

The Fujiwara no Hirotsugu rebellion (藤原広嗣の乱, Fujiwara no Hirotsugu no ran) was an unsuccessful Nara period rebellion led by Fujiwara no Hirotsugu (藤原広嗣) in the Japanese islands, in the year 740. Hirotsugu, dissatisfied with the political powers, raised an army in Dazaifu, Kyushu but was defeated by government forces.


Genbō (玄昉, d. 746) was a Japanese scholar-monk and bureaucrat of the Imperial Court at Nara. He is best known as a leader of the Hossō sect of Buddhism and as the adversary of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu.

Hyoso of Silla

Hyoso (687–702) (r. 692–702) was the thirty-second monarch of Silla, a kingdom that flourished on the Korean peninsula from approximately 200 to 927 CE. He was the eldest son of King Sinmun and his second queen consort Sinmok 神穆. He reigned for a decade and died of illness in the Silla capital in the autumn of 702.

Hyoso's reign was characterized by a continuing trend towards centralization following Silla's unification of the peninsula. Like his father, Hyoso faced some opposition in the form of revolts by high-ranking members of the Silla aristocracy. In the summer of 700, for instance, the ichan (a high rank in Silla's strict bone rank system) Gyeong-yeong 慶永 was implicated in treasonous plots and executed. These machinations also apparently involved Silla's Chief Minister of State, who was removed from office.Relations with Tang also saw improvement during Hyoso's reign following the diplomatic disintegration that followed in the wake of the wars of unification during the 660s and 670s and the foundering of the Tang-Silla alliance. Tribute relations were steadily maintained and Hyoso, as Sinmun before him, was "enfeoffed" by the Tang emperor as King of Silla.

A few citations in the record of King Hyoso in the 12th century Korean history Samguk Sagi also attest to steady diplomatic contact with Japan, and Japanese histories (notably the Shoku Nihongi) are reliable sources for confirming death dates of Silla's kings and queens during this period, as Japan would often hear of their deaths through diplomatic envoys.

King Hyoso died in 702. Because he had no son he was succeeded by his younger full brother who reigned as King Seongdeok.


The Kisoji (木曽路, Kisoji) was an old trade route in the Kiso Valley that stretched from Niekawa-juku in Nagano Prefecture to Magome-juku in Gifu Prefecture. There were eleven resting spots along the route, all of which became part of the Nakasendō when it was established. There is an article dating from 713 in the Shoku Nihongi that records the routes characters as 吉蘇路.

There are two stone markers that indicate the end points of the Kisoji. One is located between Motoyama-juku and Niekawa-juku and states "From here south: Kisoji" (是より南 木曽路 Kore yori minami, Kisoji). The other marker is located between Magome-juku and Ochiai-juku and states, "From here north: Kisoji" (是より北 木曽路 Kore yori kita, Kisoji).

Additionally, the early 20th-century author, Shimazaki Tōson, wrote about the effects of the Meiji Restoration on the Kiso Valley in his novel, Before the Dawn. He grew up in Magome-juku, hence his featuring the area in his novels.

After the Meiji period, the Chūō Main Line and Route 19 were established, which roughly follow the Kisoji's path.

Korean-style fortresses in Japan

Over the course of the Yamato period, in the early centuries of the establishment of a Japanese state, a great number of Korean-style fortresses (朝鮮式山城, Chōsen-shiki yamajiro) were constructed in Japan. Old fortresses dating to the 8th century and earlier can be found all over western Japan. Many of these sites have been identified with fortresses whose construction, repair, and destruction are described in detail in ancient chronicles such as Nihon Shoki and Shoku Nihongi. According to some interpretations of these texts, these fortresses were built under the guidance of, and at the orders of, various members of the Korean nobility or royalty.

Comparisons of these sites have been made to other Japanese fortresses, and to sites of the same period in both Korea and China. The theory persists of direct Korean involvement in the construction of these fortresses and threat of invasion by the Korean Silla dynasty and Chinese Tang Dynasty incited the Yamato court to build the Korean influenced castles. Many of the sites have been definitively dated to centuries earlier, however, and so, even if this theory holds for some sites, it does not encompass the majority.

Research on these sites is ongoing, and the questions of the purposes and origins of the fortresses, and their possible connections to Korea remain hotly debated among scholars, in part due to the nationalistic elements involved. Though some scholarship questions the identification of these fortresses with Korean origins, the Japanese term Chōsen-shiki yamajiro (朝鮮式山城, lit. "Korean-style mountain castles/fortresses") continues to be used, likely because of the high probability of Korean influence—Yamato Japan had very little need for major fortifications until that time and likely lacked such expertise, which was then likely contributed by residents of Korean descent. The term kodai yamajiro (古代山城, lit. "old period mountain castle/fortresses") is sometimes used, but its opponents argue that it can be interpreted too broadly; Chōsen-shiki yamajiro, even if not an entirely accurate description, denotes a very particular group of sites.

For the most part, researchers and specialists today doubt the appropriateness of the term "Korean-style fortresses," and continue to propose, research, and develop alternative theories as to the origins and purposes of these fortresses. However, mainstream sources such as newspapers and magazines, continue to represent the widely believed "traditional" version of events put forward by older scholarship, and to use the Korean-related terminology.


Myōjin (明神 'shining deity', 'illuminating deity', or 'apparent deity') or Daimyōjin (大明神 'great shining/apparent deity') was a title historically applied to Japanese (Shinto) deities (kami) and, by metonymy, their shrines.

The term is thought to have been derived from myōjin (名神 'notable deity'), a title once granted by the imperial court to kami deemed to have particularly impressive power and virtue and/or have eminent, well-established shrines and cults. This term is first attested in the Shoku Nihongi, where offerings from the kingdom of Bohai (Balhae) are stated to have been offered to "the eminent shrines (名神社 myōjin-sha) in each province" in the year 730 (Tenpyō 2).An epithet homophonous with this imperially bestowed title, "shining/apparent kami" (written with different Chinese characters), was in popular usage from around the Heian period up until the end of the Edo period, coexisting with titles with more explicit Buddhist overtones such as gongen (権現 'incarnation') or daibosatsu (大菩薩 'great bodhisattva').

The earliest recorded usages of 'shining/apparent deity' are found in sources such as in the Sumiyoshi-taisha Jindaiki (住吉大社神代記, "The Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine's Records of the Age of the Gods", supposedly compiled in the year 731 but thought to actually be of a much later date), which refers to the three Sumiyoshi deities as 'Sumiyoshi Daimyōjin' (住吉大明神), and the Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (completed in 901), which refers to 'Matsuo Daimyōjin' (松尾大明神).

While at first this title did not yet seem to have the Buddhist connotations that would later be associated with it, the connection between daimyōjin with the concept of honji suijaku (i.e. that the native kami are actually manifestations of Buddhist deities) was reinforced by an apocryphal utterance of the Buddha often claimed to be derived from the Karuṇāpuṇḍarīka-sūtra (悲華經 "Compassionate Lotus Sutra"; Japanese: Hikekyō) quoted and alluded to in various medieval works, but which is not in the actual sutra's text: "After I have passed into nirvana, during the Latter Day of the Law, I shall appear as a great shining/apparent deity (大明神) and save all sentient beings."Up until the early modern period, use of titles such as myōjin or gongen for many deities and their shrines were so widespread that these gods were rarely referred to by their proper names. For instance, both the god of Kashima Shrine and the shrine itself were known as 'Kashima Daimyōjin' (鹿島大明神); the deity enshrined in Suwa Grand Shrine was called 'Suwa Daimyōjin' (諏訪(大)明神), and so on. (cf. Hachiman-daibosatsu (八幡大菩薩) or Kumano Gongen (熊野権現)). After his death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was deified under the name 'Toyokuni Daimyōjin' (豊国大明神).Under Yoshida Shintō, the conferral of ranks and titles like myōjin was institutionalized, with the sect issuing out authorization certificates to shrines for a fee. The sect considered the title to be higher than the overtly Buddhist gongen as part of the sect's inversion of honji suijaku, an issue which became a point of contention with the Sannō Ichijitsu Shintō (山王一実神道) sect spearheaded by the Tendai monk Tenkai.When the Meiji government officially separated Shinto from Buddhism, official use of titles and terminology perceived as having Buddhist connotations such as (dai)myōjin, (dai)gongen or daibosatsu by shrines were legally abolished and discouraged. However, a few deities/shrines are still often referred to as (dai)myōjin in popular usage even today. (E.g. Kanda Myōjin in Chiyoda, Tokyo, enshrining the deified vengeful spirit of Taira no Masakado).


Nagaoka-kyō (長岡京) was the capital of Japan from 784 to 794. Its location was reported as Otokuni District, Yamashiro Province, and Nagaokakyō, Kyoto, which took its name from the capital. Parts of the capital were in what is now the city of Nagaokakyō, while other parts were in the present-day Mukō and Nishikyō-ku, the latter of which belongs to the city of Kyoto.

In 784, the Emperor Kanmu moved the capital from Nara (then called Heijō). According to the Shoku Nihongi, his reason for moving was that the new location had better water transportation routes. Other explanations have been given, including the wish to escape the power of the Buddhist clergy and courtiers, and the backing of the immigrants from whom his mother was descended.

In 785, the administrator in charge of the new capital, Fujiwara no Tanetsugu, was assassinated. The emperor's brother, Prince Sawara, was implicated, exiled to Awaji Province, and died on the way there.

In 794, Emperor Kammu moved the capital to Heian (in the center of the present-day city of Kyoto). Reasons cited for this move include frequent flooding of the rivers that had promised better transportation; disease caused by the flooding, affecting the empress and crown prince; and fear of the spirit of the late Prince Sawara.

Excavations begun in 1954 revealed the remains of a gate to the imperial residence.


Norito (祝詞) are liturgical texts or ritual incantations in Shinto, usually addressed to a given kami.


Rikkokushi (六国史) is a general term for Japan's Six National Histories chronicling the mythology and history of Japan from the earliest times to 887. The six histories were written at the imperial court during the 8th and 9th centuries, under order of the Emperors. The basic sources were the court records kept by the Ministry of Central Imperial Affairs, and the biographies of meritorious officials composed in the Ministry of Ceremonial Affairs.The collection consists of the following texts:

Nihon Shoki (Chronicle of Japan; also called Nihongi) – 30 volumes covering the mythological period through 697. Completed by Toneri Shinnō in 720.

Shoku Nihongi (Chronicle of Japan, Continued; also called Shokki) – 40 volumes covering 697 through 791. Completed by Fujiwara no Tsugutada and Sugano no Mamichi in 797.

Nihon Kōki (Later Chronicle of Japan) – 40 volumes covering 792 through 833. Completed by Fujiwara no Fuyutsugu and Fujiwara no Otsugu in 840.

Shoku Nihon Kōki (Later Chronicle of Japan, Continued) – 20 volumes covering 833 through 850. Completed by Fujiwara no Yoshifusa, Fujiwara no Yoshimi, Tomo no Yoshio, and Haruzumi no Yoshitada in 869.

Nihon Montoku Tennō Jitsuroku (Veritable Record of Emperor Montoku of Japan; also called Montoku jitsuroku) – 10 volumes covering 850 through 858. Completed by Fujiwara no Mototsune and Sugawara no Koreyoshi in 879.

Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku (Veritable Record of Three Generations [of Emperors] of Japan; also called Sandai jitsuroku) – 50 volumes covering 858 through 887. Completed by Fujiwara no Tokihira and Ōkura no Yoshiyuki in 901.The national histories were discontinued after the Sandai Jitsuroku; they were followed by the four Mirror books (starting with Ōkagami).

Sakanoue no Tamuramaro

Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (坂上 田村麻呂, 758 – June 17, 811) was a general and shōgun of the early Heian period of Japan. He was the son of Sakanoue no Karitamaro.

Shigaraki Palace

Shigaraki Palace (紫香楽宮, Shigaraki-no-miya, also written 信楽宮) was a palace built by Emperor Shōmu, initially as a villa, later named by himself as the capital in 744. The palace was located in the present-day city of Kōka, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The capital-palace is also referred to as Kōka Palace (甲賀宮, Kōka-no-miya) in the Shoku Nihongi.

Suwa Province

Suwa Prefecture (諏方国, Suwa no kuni) is an old province in the area of Nagano Prefecture.It was located in the Tōsandō region of central Honshu. According to the old history book Shoku Nihongi, it was established on June 26 of 721 and abolished on March 3 of 731 (old Japanese calendar's date). Neither the location of the capital nor the exact border with Shinano is known.

Tachibana no Naramaro

Tachibana no Naramaro (橘奈良麻呂, 721–757) was a Japanese aristocrat (kuge), courtier, and statesman of the Nara period. He was the son of sadaijin Tachibana no Moroe and the second head of the Tachibana clan. He attained the court rank of shō shi-i no ge (正四位下) and the position of sangi, and posthumously of shō ichi-i (正一位) and daijō-daijin.

He was the leader of a plot to replace Fujiwara no Nakamaro and to overthrow Empress Kōken (Tachibana no Naramaro's Conspiracy). It was not successful.


Tokusa-Ō (德佐王, ? – ?) known in Korea as Buyeo Deokjwa (扶餘德佐) was a member of the royal family of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He was the third son of the founder and first king, Onjo of Baekje.He only appears in the Japanese records of Shinsen Shōjiroku and Shoku Nihongi.

According to the Shinsen Shōjiroku he is one of the earliest people of Baekje to settle in Japan and is the grandson of Dongmyeongseong of Goguryeo. The Shoku Nihongi records that the ancestor of the royal family of Baekje is daughter of the river deity Habaek (하백, 河伯) which is similar to the Korean Jumong tales. Nothing else is known of his life or activities besides that he was ancestor of several clans in Japan.

Wake no Kiyomaro

Wake no Kiyomaro (和気 清麻呂, 733–799) was a high-ranking Japanese official during the Nara period. He was born in Bizen Province (now Wake, Okayama) to a family of politically important, devoted Buddhists who hoped to keep Buddhism and politics separate through religious reform. He became a trusted advisor to Emperor Kanmu, a position which he used to encourage the development of Buddhism in a direction which would prevent it from posing a threat to the government. According to the Shoku Nihongi, he was sent to the Usa Shrine to receive a divine message; stating that only those of descent from Amaterasu could become emperor, it refuted the previous divine message claiming Dōkyō was to be the next emperor after Empress Kōken (later Empress Shōtoku). This report angered Dōkyō, who used his influence with the Empress to have an edict issued sending Kiyomaro into exile; he also had the sinews of Kiyomaro's legs cut, and only the protection of the Fujiwara clan saved him from being killed outright.The following year, however, Empress Shōtoku died. She was succeeded by Emperor Kōnin, who in turn exiled Dōkyō to Shimotsuke Province and not only recalled Wake no Kiyomaro from exile, but also appointed him as both kami (governor) of Bizen Province and Udaijin (junior minister of state). The following year, he petitioned the governor of Dazaifu to send officials to Usa to investigate allegations of "fraudulent oracles"; in his later report, Wake no Kiyomaro stated that out of five oracles checked, two were found to be fabricated. This resulted in the government relieving Usa no Ikemori of his position as head priest and replacing him with the previously-disgraced Ōga no Tamaro. Following this, Wake no Kiyomaro returned to Yamato. He remained a trusted advisor to Emperor Kammu; in the spring of 793, he convinced the emperor to abandon the delay-plagued construction of a capital at Nagaoka and instead seek another location to the northeast, at Heian-kyō (modern-day Kyōto.His face appeared on 10-yen notes issued from 1888.

Yamato clan

The Yamato clan (和氏), also known as Yamato no Fuhito (和史), was an immigrant clan active in Japan since the Kofun period (250–538), according to the history of Japan laid out in the Nihon Shoki. The name fuhito comes from their occupation as scribes. They were descended from Prince Junda (Junda Taishi) who died in 513 in Japan. He was a son of the 25th king of Baekje, Mureyong. His brother Seong became the 26th king of Baekje and his nephew Prince Imseong also settled in Japan.In 2001, Emperor Akihito told reporters "I, on my part, feel a certain kinship with Korea, given the fact that it is recorded in the Chronicles of Japan that the mother of Emperor Kammu [Niigasa] was of the line of King Muryong of Baekje." It was the first time that a Japanese emperor publicly acknowledged Korean blood in the imperial line. According to the Shoku Nihongi, Niigasa is a descendant of Prince Junda, son of Muryeong.


An Ōnusa (大幣) or simply nusa (幣) is a wooden wand used in Shinto rituals. It is decorated with many shide (zig-zagging paper streamers). When the shide are attached to a hexagonal or octagonal staff, it can be also called haraegushi (祓串). It is waved left and right during purification rituals.

Ōnusa are not to be confused with hataki, which look somewhat similar.

National Histories


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