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The Kojiki, translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, [1919], at



It will have been gathered from what has been already said, and it is indeed generally known, that the "Records of Ancient Matters" do not stand alone. To say nothing of the "Chronicles of Old Matters of Former Age" whose genuineness is disputed, there is another undoubtedly authentic work with which no student of Japanese antiquity can dispense. It is entitled Nihon-Gi, i.e., "Chronicles of Japan," and is second only in value to the "Records," which it has always excelled in popular favour. It was completed in A.D. 720, eight years after the 'Records of Ancient Matters" had been presented to the Empress Gem-miyo.

The scope of the two histories is the same; but the language of the later one and its manner of treating the national traditions stand in notable contrast to the unpretending simplicity [20] of the elder word. Not only is the style (excepting in the Songs, which had to be left as they were or sacrificed altogether) completely Chinese,—in fact to a great extent a cento of well-worn Chinese

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phrases,—but the subject-matter is touched up, re-arranged, and polished, so as to make the work resemble a Chinese history so far as that was possible. Chinese philosophical speculations and moral precepts are intermingled with the cruder traditions that had descended from Japanese antiquity. Thus the naturalistic Japanese account of the creation is ushered in by a few sentences which trace the origin of all things to Yin and Yang ( ), the Passive and Active Essences of Chinese philosophy. The legendary Emperor Jim-mu is credited with speeches made up of quotations from the "Yi Ching," 13 the "Li Chi," 14 and other standard Chinese works. A few of the most childish of the national traditions are omitted, for instance the story of the "White Hare of Inaba," that of the gods obtaining counsel of a toad, and that of the hospitality which a speaking mouse extended to the deity Master-of-the Great-Land. 15 Sometimes the original tradition is simply softened down or explained away. A notable instance of this occurs in the account of the visit of the deity Izanagi 16 to Hades, whither he goes in quest of his dead wife, and among other things has to scale the "Even Pass (or Hill) of Hades." 17 In the tradition preserved in the "Records" and indeed even in the "Chronicles," this pass or hill is mentioned as a literal geographical fact. But the compiler of the latter work, whose object it was to appear and to make his forefathers appear, as reasonable as a learned Chinese, acids a gloss to the effect that "One account

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says that the Even Hill of Hades is no distinct place, but simply the moment when breathing ceases at the time of death";—not a happy guess certainly, for this pass is mentioned in connection with Izanagi's return to the land of the living. In short we may say of this work what was said of the Septuagint,—that it rationalizes.

Perhaps it will be asked, how can it have come to pass [21] that a book in which the national traditions are thus unmistakably tampered with, and which is moreover written in Chinese instead of in the native tongue, has enjoyed such a much greater share of popularity than the more genuine work?

The answer lies on the surface: the concessions made to Chinese notions went far towards satisfying minds trained on Chinese models, while at the same time the reader had his respect for the old native emperors increased, and was enabled to preserve some sort of belief in the native gods. People are rarely quite logical in such matters, particularly in an early stage of society; and difficulties are glossed over rather than insisted upon. The beginning of the world, for instance, or, to use Japanese phraseology. the "separation of heaven and earth" took place a long time ago; and perhaps, although there could of course be no philosophical doubt as to the course of this event having been the interaction of the Passive and Active Essences, it might also somehow be true that Izanagi and Izanami (the "Male-Who-Invites" and the "Female-Who-Invites") were the progenitor and progenitrix of Japan. Who knows but what in them the formative principles may not have been embodied, represented, or figured forth after a fashion not quite determined, but none the less real? As a matter of fact, the

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two deities in question have often been spoken of in Japanese books under such designations as the "Yin Deity" and the "Yang Deity," and in his Chinese Preface the very compiler of these "Records" lends his sanction to the use of such phraseology, though, if we look closely at the part taken by the gods in the legend narrated in Sect. IV, it would seem but imperfectly applicable. If again early sovereigns, such as the Empress Jin-gō, address their troops in sentences cribbed from the "Shu Ching," 18 or, like the Emperor Kei-kō, describe the Ainos in terms that would only suit the pages of a Chinese topographer,—both these personages being supposed to have lived prior to the opening up of intercourse with the continent of Asia,—the anachronism was partly hidden by the fact of the work which thus recorded their doings being itself written in the Chinese language, where such phrases only sounded natural. In some instances, too, the Chinese usage had so completely superseded the native [22] one as to cause the latter to have been almost forgotten excepting by the members of the Shintō priesthood. This happened in the case of the Chinese method of divination by means of a tortoise-shell, whose introduction caused the elder native custom of divination through the shoulder-blade of a deer to fall into desuetude. Whether indeed this native custom itself may not perhaps be traced back to still earlier continental influence is another question. So far as any documentary information reaches, divination through the shoulder-blade of a deer was the most ancient Japanese method of ascertaining the will of the gods. The use of the Chinese sexagenary cycle for counting years, months, and days is another instance of the imported

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usage having become so thoroughly incorporated with native habits of mind as to make the anachronism of employing it when speaking of a period confessedly anterior to the introduction of continental civilization pass unnoticed. As for the (to a modern European) grotesque notion of pretending to give the precise months and days of events supposed to have occurred a thousand years before the date assigned to the introduction of astronomical instruments, of observatories, and even of the art of writing, that is another of those inconsistencies which, while lying on the very surface, yet so easily escape the uncritical Oriental mind. 19 Semi-civilized people tire of asking questions, and to question antiquity, which fills so great a place in their thoughts, is the last thing that would occur to any of their learned men, whose mental attitude is characteristically represented by Confucius when he calls himself "A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients." 20 As regards the question of language, standard Chinese soon became easier to understand than Archaic Japanese, as the former [23] alone was taught in the schools and the native language changed rapidly during the century or two that followed the diffusion of the foreign tongue and civilization. We

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have only to call to mind the relative facility to most of ourselves of a Latin book and of one written in Early English. Of course, as soon as the principles of the Japanese Renaissance had taken hold of men's minds in the eighteenth century, the more genuine, more national work assumed its proper place in the estimation of students. But the uncouthness of the style according to modern ideas, and the greater amount of explanation of all sorts that is required in order to make the "Records of Ancient Matters" intelligible, must always prevent them from attaining to the popularity of the sister history. Thus, though published almost simultaneously, the tendencies of the two works were very different, and their fate has differed accordingly.

To the European student the chief value of the "Chronicles of Japan" lies in the fact that their author, in treating of the so-called "Divine Age," often gives a number of various forms of the same legend under the heading of 'One account says," suffixed in the form of a note to the main text. No phrase is more commonly met with in later treatises on Japanese history than this,—"One account in the 'Chronicles of Japan' says," and it will be met with occasionally in the Foot-notes to the present translation. There are likewise instances of the author of the "Chronicles" having preserved, either in the text or in "One account," traditions omitted by the compiler of the "Records." Such are, for instance, the quaint legend invented to explain the fact that the sun and moon do not shine simultaneously, 21 and the curious development of the legend of the expulsion of the deity [24]

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[paragraph continues] Susa-no-wo ("Impetuous Male"), telling us of the hospitality which was refused to him by the other gods when he appeared before them to beg for shelter. Many of the Songs, too, in the "Chronicles" are different from those in the "Records," and make a precious addition to our vocabulary of Archaic Japanese. The prose text, likewise, contains in the shape of notes, numbers of readings by which the pronunciation of words written ideographically, or the meaning of words written phonetically in the "Records" may be ascertained. Finally the "Chronicles" give us the annals of seventy-two years not comprised in the plan of the "Records," by carrying down to A.D. 700 the history which in the "Records" stops at the year 628. Although therefore it is a mistake

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to assert, as some have done, that the "Chronicles of Japan" must be placed at the head of all the Japanese historical works, their assistance can in no wise be dispensed with by the student of Japanese mythology and of the Japanese language. 22


xxvii:13 .

xxvii:14 .

xxvii:15 See Sects. XXI., XXVII and XXIII.

xxvii:16 Rendered in the English translation by "the Male-Who-Invites."

xxvii:17 Yomo tsu Hira-Saka.

xxix:18 .

xxx:19 Details as to the adoption by the Japanese of the Chinese system of computing time will be found in the late Mr. Bramsen's "Japanese Chronological Tables," where that lamented scholar brands "the whole system of fictitious dates applied in the first histories of Japan," as one of the greatest literary frauds over perpetrated, from which we may infer how little trust can be placed in the early Japanese historical works. See also Motowori's "Inquiry into the True Chronology," pp. 33-36, and his second work on the same subject entitled "Discussion of the Objections to the Inquiry into the True Chronology," pp. 46 et seq.

xxx:20 "Confucian Analects," Book VII. Chap. I. Dr. Legge's translation.

xxxi:21 It may perhaps be worth while to quote this legend in full. It is as follows: p. xxxii

"One account says that the Heaven-Shining Great Deity, being in Heaven said: 'I hear that in the Central Land of Reed-Plains (i.e. Japan) there is a Food-Possessing Deity. Do, thou, Thine Augustness Moon-Night Possessor, go and see.' His Augustness the Moon-Night Possessor, having received these orders, descended [to earth], and arrived at the place where the Food-Possessing Deity was. The Food-Possessing Deity forthwith, on turning her head towards the land, produced rice from her mouth; again, on turning to the sea, she also produced from her mouth things broad of fin and things narrow of fin; again, on turning to the mountains, she also produced from her mouth things rough of hair and things soft of hair. Having collected together all these things, she offered them [to the Moon-God] as a feast on a hundred tables. At this time His Augustness the Moon-Night-Possessor, being angry and colouring up, said: 'How filthy! how vulgar! What! shalt thou dare to feed me with things spat out from thy mouth?' [and with these words], he drew his sabre and slew her. Afterwards he made his report [to the Sun-Goddess]. When he told her all the particulars, the Heaven-Shining Great Deity was very angry, and said: 'Thou art a wicked Deity, whom it is not right for me to see;'—and forthwith she and His Augustness the Moon-Night-Possessor dwelt separately day and night." The partly Parallel legend given in these "Records" forms the subject of Sect. XVII of the Translation.

xxxiii:22 Compare Mr. Satow's remarks on this subject in Vol. III, Pt. I, pp. 21-23 of these "Transactions."

Next: IV. Manners and Customs of the Early Japanese