Asiatic Mythology: A Detailed Description and Explanation of the Mythologies of All the Great Nations of Asia

By J. Hackin; Clément Huart et al. | Go to book overview
Fig. 1. THE DEMONS OF DISEASE MAKE THEIR SUBMISSION TO SUSA-NO-WO-NO-MIKOTO Painting by Hokusai-Katsushita.

THE MYTHOLOGY OF JAPAN

SHINTÔ MYTHOLOGY

THE mythology of Shintô, the national religion of Japan, is founded on legendary stories that appear in two ancient collections, the Nihongi and the Kojiki.

The " Nihongi " and the "Kojiki." The first part of the Nihongi is usually referred to under the title of Jindaiki or Kami-yo-no-maki, which means "books consecrated to the divine generations."

The Nihongi, or more correctly the Nihonshoki, annals of Japan, an official history, was published by imperial order in A.D. 720; it is written in Chinese. The Kojiki also is written in Chinese characters, but presents peculiarities of syntax that are purely Japanese. This work, really a compilation of older stories, was put together by a high official during the reign of the Empress Gemmyô ( A.D. 708-714).

The Emperor Temmu ( A.D. 673-686) was not unaware, indeed, that the "chronicles of the emperors "and the original phrases "handed down by the various families," continually corrupted by alterations," departed more and more from the exact truth." He feared lest these increasing modifications might impair the good order and solidity of the State, and he reckoned that it was time to submit the national traditions to a severe examination, to eliminate errors and determine the truth in order to transmit [an authentic version] to the ages to come." Accordingly he made Hiyeda-no-Are learn by heart "the successions of emperors" and "the ancient traditions of the past ages."

Thus the Kojiki was composed in order to fix in final fashion and set above all controversy, on the one hand the imperial genealogy and on the other the body of Shintô

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