Nihon Shoki, Japan’s oldest historical record

Withim Kojiki, another important book of ancient literature is the Nihon shoki. The oldest text of the Nihon shoki is he Shitennōji, dating from the late Nara period to the early Heian period. This book was a project undertaken by the government of the ritsuryo (based on Confusian principles), and intended to preserve in written form the official history of Japan. Its development lasted 39 years, beginning in 681.


Emperor Jinmu

The structure of the Nihon shoki

The book is written in classical Chinese, and includes several quotes from Chinese chronicles. He Nihon shoki It consists of a record in chronological format, and is a collection of thirty books that kept records of dynastic affairs, biographies of court ministers, and other historical formats. Of the thirty books, the first two consist of the age of the Kami, and the others keep records of the events of the rulers, up to the 41st emperor, Jitō. The last section, from book 28 to 30, recounts the most recent events of the last twenty years of the book. The last book ends with Jitō’s abdication in 697. The book was left open with the expectation that it would continue to expand as time went on. At Nihon shoki in addition, it was tried to justify the divine lineage from which the emperors of Japan have descended, to justify their character as ruler.

amaterasu o-mikami

A common point shared by both the Kojiki As the Nihon shoki It is the basic structure that justifies the power of the imperial family by connecting the emperor’s genealogy with the gods Amaterasu and Takamimusuhi. Both books have many differences, which can be interpreted as two divergent interests. The first is an attitude of rejection of the Chinese model, and a preference for preserving the indigenous tradition of Japan. By rejecting the Chinese classics, Japan maintained the oral and mythical nature of its traditions by using a mixture of phonetic writing with ideograms (see the article on the Kojiki for more information). Thus, within the Kojiki any mention of China or Buddhism is avoided.

nihon shoki

The second position is that of an independent pattern in which Japan imitates China without becoming a slave to its culture, drawing differences between the two. He Nihon shoki uses the Chinese classical and chronological framework, but his records include the mythology of the ‘age of the kamis‘and continues up to the imperial genealogy, emphasizing the indigenous concept. The differences between Kojiki and the Nihon shoki allow us to see that from the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth the court went through changes in which the government adopted the codes of the ritsuryo (Confusianists) in the Tenmu and Genmei eras, but respecting royalty.

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