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Kojiki (, "Records of Ancient Matters" or "An Account of Ancient Matters"), also sometimes read as Furukotofumi,[1] is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century (711-712) and composed by ? no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei.[2][3] The Kojiki is a collection of myths, early legends, songs, genealogies, oral traditions and semi-historical accounts down to 641[4] concerning the origin of the Japanese archipelago, and the Kami (?). The myths contained in the Kojiki as well as the Nihon Shoki (?) are part of the inspiration behind many practices. Later, the myths were re-appropriated for Shinto practices such as the misogi purification ritual.[5][6][7][8]

Shinpukuji-bon Kojiki (?)


Emperor Tenmu ordered Hieda no Are to memorize stories and texts from history, many of which appear to have been, until the creation of the Kojiki, commonly known oral traditions. Beyond this memorization, nothing occurred until after Empress Jit? and Emperor Monmu had both passed and Empress Genmei came to reign. According to the Kojiki, Empress Genmei on the 18th of the 9th month of 711 ordered the courtier ? no Yasumaro to record what had been learned by Hieda no Are. He finished and presented his work to Empress Genmei on the 28th of the 1st month of 712.[2]


The Kojiki could be made to further the Imperial right to rule. This historical narrative is broken into the Age of Gods and the Age of Humans, wherein the mythology of the gods which gave birth to the land is told and transitioned in a chronological fashion to the reign of the Emperors. This narrative sets forth the divine mandate by which the Yamato line has right to rule, and through the rhetoric used in the Age of Humans, the historical and military qualifications were likewise established. Several of the narratives which give support to the imperial line, such as the subjugation of certain Korean kingdoms, have been confirmed as historically false and were included merely to erase failures and bolster reputations of Emperor's past. Vast amounts of the Age of Humans is spent recounting genealogies, which served not only to give age to the imperial family, which was likely much newer than the Kojiki claims as little evidence has been found to support the existence of early Emperors, but also served to tie, whether true or not, many existing clan's genealogies to their own. Regardless of the original intent of the Kojiki, it finalized and possibly even formulated the framework by which Japanese history was examined in terms of the reign of Emperors.[2][3]


The Kojiki contains various songs and poems. While the historical records and myths are written in a form of Chinese with a heavy mixture of Japanese elements, the songs are written with Chinese characters, though only used phonetically. This special use of Chinese characters is called Man'y?gana, a knowledge of which is critical to understanding these songs, which are written in Old Japanese.[9]


The Kojiki is divided into three parts: the Kamitsumaki (, "first volume"), the Nakatsumaki (, "middle volume") and the Shimotsumaki (, "lower volume").

  • The Kamitsumaki, also known as the Kamiyo no Maki (, "Volume of the Age of the Gods"), includes the preface of the Kojiki, and is focused on the deities of creation and the births of various deities of the kamiyo () period, or Age of the Gods. The Kamitsumaki also outlines the myths concerning the foundation of Japan. It describes how Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu and great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, descended from heaven to Takachihonomine in Ky?sh? and became the progenitor of the Japanese Imperial line.[6][8][10]
  • The Nakatsumaki begins with the conquests of Jimmu, which make him the first Emperor of Japan; and ends with the 15th Emperor, ?jin. The second through ninth Emperors' reigns are recorded in a minimum of detail, with only their names, the names of their various descendants, and the locations of their palaces and tombs listed, with no mention of their achievements. Many of the stories in this volume are mythological; the allegedly historical information is highly suspect.
  • The Shimotsumaki covers the 16th to 33rd Emperors and, unlike previous volumes, has very limited references to interactions with deities. (Such interactions are very prominent in the first and second volumes.) Information about the 24th to 33rd Emperors is scant.


What follows is a condensed summary of the contents of the text, including many of the names of gods, Emperors, and locations as well as events which took place in association with them. The original Japanese is included in parentheses where appropriate.

Preface (?)

The Kamitsumaki (), or first volume

The Nakatsumaki (), or second volume

  • Kamu-yamato Iware-biko no Mikoto () or Emperor Jimmu (?)
  • Emperor Jimmu conquers Yamato
  • **The sword from heaven, or Futsu no mitama (?) and the three legged crow, or Yatagarasu ()
  • Kannunakawamimi no Mikoto (), or Emperor Suizei (?)
  • Shikitsuhikotamatemi no Mikoto (), or Emperor Annei (?)
  • ?yamatohikosukitomo no Mikoto (?), or Emperor Itoku (?)
  • Mimatsuhikokaeshine no Mikoto (?), or Emperor K?sh? (?)
  • ?yamatotarashihikokunioshihito no Mikoto (), or Emperor K?an (?)
  • ?yamatonekohikofutoni no Mikoto (?), or Emperor K?rei (?)
  • ?yamatonekohikokunikuru no Mikoto (?), or Emperor K?gen (?)
  • Wakayamatonekohiko?bibi no Mikoto (), or Emperor Kaika (?)
  • Mimakiirihikoinie no Mikoto (), or Emperor Sujin (?)
  • The emperor's son and queen
  • The god of Mount Miwa () or Mimoro (), ?mononushi (?)
  • **The rebellion of Takehaniyasu no Miko ()
    • Emperor Hatsukunishirashishi ()
  • Ikumeiribikoisachi no Mikoto (), or Emperor Suinin (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • The Sahobiko (?) and Sahobime (?)
    • Homuchiwakenomiko (?)
    • (?)
    • The fruit of time
  • ?tarashihiko?shirowake no sumeramiko (), or Emperor Keikou (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • Yamatotakerunomikoto's () conquest of the Kumaso people ()
    • Izumotakeru's () Subjugation
    • Yamatotakerunomikoto's conquest of Tougoku (), the eastern country
    • Miyazuhime ()
    • The Kunishinobiuta (), or country song
    • Yahiroshiro Chidori ()
    • Yamatotakerunomikoto's Posterity
  • Wakatarashihiko no sumeramikoto (), or Emperor Seimu (?)
  • Wakatarashihiko no sumeramikoto (), or Emperor Ch?ai (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • The divine possession of Price Jing? (?)
    • The prince's expedition to Silla ()
    • Kagosaka no Miko () and Oshikuma no Miko's () rebellion
    • The great god Kehi (?)
    • The Sakekura song ()
  • Handawake no Mikoto (), or Emperor ?jin (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • Price ?yamamori no Mikoto (?) and Emperor ?sazaki no Mikoto ()
    • Yakahaehime ()
    • Kaminagahime (?)
    • The Kuzu song ()
    • The tribute of Baekje ()
    • **The rebellion of Price ?yamamori no Mikoto (?)
    • Visit of Amenohiboko (?)
    • **Akiyama Shitahiotoko (?) and Haruyama Kasumiotoko ()
    • The emperor's posterity

The Shimotsumaki (), or final volume

  • ?sazaki no mikoto (), or Emperor Nintoku (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • Kibi Kurohime ()
    • Yatanowakiiratsume () and Iha no hime (?)
    • Hayabusawake no kimi (?) and Medori no kimi ()
    • Wild goose eggs
    • A boat called Kareno (), or desolate field
    • Izahowake no miko (), or Emperor Rich? (?)
    • The rebellion of Suminoenonakatsu no kimi (?)
    • Mizuhawake no kimi (?) and Sobakari (?)
    • Mizuhawake no mikoto (?), or Emperor Hanzei (?)
    • Osatsumawakugonosukune no miko (), or Emperor Ingy? (?)
      • The emperor's son and queen
      • Uji kabane system (?)
      • Karunohitsugi no miko () and Karun?hoiratsume (?)
  • Anaho no miko (?), or Emperor Ank? (?)
      • ?kusaka no kimi (?) and Nen?mi ()
      • The incident of Mayowa no kimi () and Mayowa no ?kimi ()
      • Ichinoben?shiwa no kimi ()
  • ?hatsusewakatake no mikoto (), or Emperor Y?ryaku (?)
    • The emperor's son and queen
    • Wakakusakabe no kimi ()
    • Akaiko ()
    • Yoshinomiya ()
    • Kazuraki () Hitokotonushi no ?kami ()
    • Odohime (?), Mie Uneme ()


Kojiki-den by Motoori Norinaga

In the Edo period, Motoori Norinaga studied the Kojiki intensively. He produced a 44-volume study of the Kojiki called Kojiki-den (?, "Kojiki commentary").

English-language translations

  • Chamberlain, Basil Hall. 1882. A translation of the "Ko-ji-ki" or Records of ancient matters. Yokohama, Japan: R. Meiklejohn and Co., Printers. (www.sacred-texts.com)
  • Philippi, Donald L. 1968/1969. Kojiki. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press and Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. (ISBN 978-0691061603)
  • Heldt, Gustav. 2014. The Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters. New York: Columbia University Press. (ISBN 978-0-231-16389-7)


There are two major branches of Kojiki manuscripts: Ise and Urabe. The extant Urabe branch consists of 36 existing manuscripts all based on the 1522 copies by Urabe Kanenaga. The Ise branch may be subdivided into the Shinpukuji-bon (?) manuscript of 1371-1372 and the D?ka-bon () manuscripts. The D?ka sub-branch consists of:

  • the D?ka-bon () manuscript of 1381; only the first half of the first volume remains
  • the D?sh?-bon () manuscript of 1424; only the first volume remains, and there are many defects
  • the Shun'yu-bon () manuscript of 1426; one volume

The Shinpukuji-bon manuscript (1371-1372) is the oldest existing manuscript. While divided into the Ise branch, it is actually a mixture of the two branches. The monk Ken'yu based his copy on ?nakatomi Sadayo's copy. In 1266, Sadayo copied volumes one and three but did not have access to the second volume. Finally, in 1282, he obtained access to the second volume through a Urabe-branch manuscript that he used to transcribe.

See also


  1. ^ McDowell, Michael; Brown, Nathan Robert (2009). World Religions At Your Fingertips. Penguin. ISBN 1101014695.
  2. ^ a b c S., Brownlee, John (1991). Political thought in Japanese historical writing: from Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712). Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 9780889209978. OCLC 243566096.
  3. ^ a b Duthie, Torquil. Man'yoshu and the imperial imagination in early Japan. Leiden. ISBN 9789004251717. OCLC 864366334.
  4. ^ Jaroslav Prek and Zbigniew S?upski, eds., Dictionary of Oriental Literatures: East Asia (Charles Tuttle, 1978): 140-141.
  5. ^ Reader, Ian (2008). Simple Guides: Shinto. Kuperard. p. 33,60. ISBN 1-85733-433-7.
  6. ^ a b "Kojiki". Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "" [Kojiki]. Dijitaru Daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved .
  8. ^ a b "" [Kojiki]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved .
  9. ^ The idea of writing : writing across borders. Voogt, Alexander J. de., Quack, Joachim Friedrich, 1966-. Leiden: Brill. 2012. ISBN 9789004215450. OCLC 773348868.CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ "Ninigi no Mikoto". Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25. Retrieved .


External links

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