The Kojiki, an eighth-century Shinto text, is the earliest surviving document written by the Japanese. Shinto is a native Japanese religion that focuses on the worship of natural spirits called kami. Part holy text, part history, and part folktale a story passed on through oral traditions, usually containing a timeless truth, custom, or belief and myth, it represents an effort to document much of the history of early Japan. It also contains an account of the creation of the world, one that in many respects is similar to creation accounts contained in the scriptures, or holy texts, of other world religions. Kojiki means "Record of Ancient Matters.

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The Kojiki text was compiled from oral tradition in The Kojiki is an important source book for ceremonies, customs, divination, and magical practices of ancient Japan.

It includes myths , legends , and historical accounts of the imperial court from the earliest days of its creation up to the reign of Empress Suiko The Kojiki was first translated into English in Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Read More on This Topic. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Both works are extremely important, for they draw on oral or written traditions handed down from much earlier times.

The histories—a combination of myth, folk belief, and, as they near the…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! Email address. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.

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Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters (vol.1)

The Kojiki : Records of Ancient Matters. Written by imperial command in the eighth century, The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters is Japan's classic of classics, the oldest connected literary work and the fundamental scripture of Shinto. Both works have immense value as records of the development of Japan into a unified state with a well-defined character. Indeed, even the mythological aspects were accepted as fact throughout most of subsequent Japanese history—until the defeat and disillusionment of the nation in


Tales from the Kojiki

Later, the myths were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual. It is believed that the compilation of various geneological and anecdotal histories of the imperial Yamato court and prominent clans began during the reigns of Emperors Keitai and Kinmei in the 6th century, with the first concerted effort at historical compilation of which we have record being the one made in under the auspices of Prince Shotoku and Soga no Umako. Out of these texts, only the Kokki survived the burning of Soga no Emishi 's estate where these documents were kept during the Isshi incident of , and it itself was apparently lost soon after. The Kojiki 's preface indicates that leading families also kept their own historical and genealogical records; indeed, one of the reasons it gives for the compilation of the Kojiki is the correction of errors that had supposedly crept into these documents. According to the preface, Emperor Tenmu reigned ordered the review and emendation of clan documents and commissioned a certain court attendant toneri of exceptional memory named Hieda no Are to memorize records and oral traditions concerning the imperial lineage.

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