Category Archives: Kojiki

Kojiki, Part 3

From a previous post of an article written by Cynthia Lenssen Broshi (Jin Shin Jyutsu Journal – Israel) in which she mentions the word “Kojiki”.  I thought many readers might be unfamiliar with the ancient Japanese chronicle and began a brief introduction two days ago. Here is the final post of that introduction:

“If you are not feeling well, the most important thing you can do is breathe.”
— Master Jiro Murai

Disputes About Authenticity

The Kojiki was followed by the Nihon shoki, and does not recount official history like the later Nihon shoki. Kojiki is the only history that claims that it was compiled by Imperial order. This has led to claims that the Kojiki was a forgery and actually appeared much later than the Nihon shoki, but these claims have little support. Some scholars assert that Teiki and Kuji were created, in the first half and middle of the sixth century C.E., by the Imperial aristocracies to explain the progression of the Japanese emperors’ reigns, and could not be considered true oral traditions of national and racial history. Other scholars say that in order for Teiki and Kuji to be widely accepted by the general public, they had to reflect genuine traditional oral history and folklore. The name “Nippon” (Japan), which would indicate an official nationalistic viewpoint, does not appear; this is evidence against the interference of the government.

Some scholars argue that Kojiki is a forgery because there are no direct external records of editing and compilation of Kojiki outside of the document itself. Since the earliest existing manuscript was transcribed in the fourteenth century, we cannot be sure that it has preserved the original form of Kojiki from before that time. In this manner, the authenticity of Kojiki has been disputed since early modern times. Kamo no Mabuchi and several other scholars argued that the creation of Kojiki is not mentioned in official historical records of ancient times. This view was accepted by the general public, but not by scholars of ancient literature and historical writings. The main reason for this is that the transcription of the pronunciation “mo” remained in Kojiki, even though this pronunciation had already disappeared in Manyoshu (759 C.E.) and Nihonshoki (720). There are two schools of thought among those who believe Kojiki to be a forgery. Some base their premise on an analysis of the entire document, and others only on the preface. The latter questioned why O no Yasumaro’s Chinese inscription in the preface differed from the inscription of his name in other historical books. However, in 1979, a stone engraved with O no Yasumaro’s name was unearthed in Nara city, and added support to the claims that Kojiki is authentic.

Research

Research of Kojiki flourished after early modern times. The Kojiki-den, written by Motoori Norinaga in 1798 (during the Edo age), was a 44-volume annotated edition, an important classic of Kojiki research whose rigorous and empirical revision have had a great influence on subsequent studies. Motoori Norinaga was one of the leading figures of the Kokugaku movement, and his research using the viewpoint of monono aware (the sorrow which results from the passage of things) revived an awareness of the deeper meaning of Kojiki. At the present time, the focus of Kojiki research is shifting from theories of its origins and formation to the construction and content of the work.

Contents

Kojiki starts with the very beginning of the world as it was created by the kami (deities) Izanagi and Izanami and ends with the era of the Empress Suiko. It contains various Japanese myths and legends as well as songs. While the historical records and myths are written in a form of Chinese with a heavy admixture of Japanese elements, the songs are written with Chinese characters used to convey only sounds. This special use of Chinese characters is called Manyogana, knowledge of which is critical to understanding these songs. These songs are in the dialect of the Yamato area from about seventh century to eighth century C.E., a language called “Jſdai Nihongo” (lit. “upper age Japanese”).

The Kojiki is divided into three parts: Kamitsumaki (lit. upper roll), Nakatsumaki (lit. middle roll), and Shimotsumaki (lit. lower roll). The Kamitsumaki includes the preface and is focused on the deities that made Japan and the births of various deities. The Nakatsumaki begins with the story of Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor, and his conquest of Japan, and ends with the fifteenth emperor, Emperor Ojin. Many of the stories it contains are mythological, and the allegedly historical information in them is highly suspect. For unknown reasons, the second to ninth emperors are listed but their achievements are largely missing. The Shimotsumaki covers the sixteenth to thirty-third emperors, and, unlike previous volumes, has very limited references to the interactions with deities so prominent in the first and second volumes. Information on the twenty-fourth to thirty-third Emperors is largely missing.

I pulled this information from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kojiki and japanesemythology.jp/kojiki.

Some day I’ll be able to read this on my own…the entire text has be translated…and yet, something may be lost in that translation…as with the Bible and other religious historical writings.

Thank you, Master Jiro.

Thank you, Mary.

Thank you, David.

Gassho, Namaste, Blessings.

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Kojiki, Part 2

From a previous post of an article written by Cynthia Lenssen Broshi (Jin Shin Jyutsu Journal – Israel) in which she mentions the word “Kojiki”.  I thought many readers might be unfamiliar with the ancient Japanese chronicle and began a brief introduction yesterday. Here is the continuation of that introduction:

“If you are not feeling well, the most important thing you can do is breathe.”
— Master Jiro Murai

Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記), ( “Records of Ancient Matters”), is the oldest surviving book dealing with ancient Japanese history. It was codified in the first half of 680 C.E., by decree of Emperor Temmu. The author of this codification, called “the original Kojiki,” is unknown but is supposed to have been Wani or another member of his family, because the text contains numerous passages praising the Wani clan. In 712 C.E., O no Yasumaro added some improvements and a supplementary explanation and presented it to the emperor. The oldest handwritten copy extant is the one which was transcribed in 1371-1372 C.E. by the head monk of Shinpuku-ji Temple.

The introduction of writing in the fifth century C.E. and Buddhism in the sixth century C.E. had a profound impact on the development of a unified system of Shinto beliefs. Within a few years, during the early Nara period, the Kojiki (712 C.E.) and the Nihon shoki (The Chronicles of Japan, 720 C.E.) were written by compiling existing myths and legends into unified accounts. These accounts were written for the purpose of shoring up support for the Imperial house, by legitimizing its lineage as descended from the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Much of the area which is now Japan was under only fragmentary control by the Imperial family, and rival ethnic groups continued to war against the encroachment of the Japanese. These two mythological anthologies were meant to justify the authenticity of the Imperial family’s control over Japan. While Nihon shoki focused on establishing the Imperial family as the authentic rulers of a Japan unified against the neighboring countries of China and Korea, Kojiki, the older text, focused on establishing the identity of the Imperial family as descendants of a divine being. Kojiki, together with Nihon shoki, has been a primary sacred text in Shinto.

History

Around 672 C.E., after the Jinshin Rebellion, Emperor Temmu desired to enhance the Imperial genealogy and the existing oral traditions concerning aristocratic families, so that these could be passed down to future generations. Hieda no Are, a 28-year-old supporter of the emperor, had the ability to read passages of text at a glance and to remember stories as they were told in detail. Emperor Temmu ordered Hieda no Are to learn Teiki (an Imperial genealogy which was maintained by government officials and is no longer in existence) and Kuji (the oral traditions of each clan’s history, also no longer in existence). However, these researches ended with the passing of Emperor Temmu. At the start of the Nara period (710- 784 C.E.), Emperor Genmei again wanted to correct and organize Teiki and Kuji. According to its preface, in 712 C.E. under the order of Emperor Genmei’s imperial court, O no Yasumaro presented Kojiki, based on a story memorized by Hieda no Are.

Kojiki consisted of two parts; the genealogy of the Emperor, and oral tradition. The former contained the names of the first to the thirty-third Emperors and the names of their empresses, the Imperial princes and princesses, and their descendants. It also gave the names of all the Imperial palaces and reigns; the year of each reign’s collapse according to the sexagenary cycle; their life spans of the members of the royal family; the locations of their tombs; and the events took place during each reign. During official rituals, these details had been recited by memory by a clan of narrators in the service of the Imperial Court, until they were finally recorded in the middle of the sixth century C.E. The oral traditions included stories of the court and tales of the origin of the Imperial family and the nation of Japan.

to be continued…

 

Kojiki, Part 1

Yesterday’s post in the Jin Shin Jyutsu Category was from an article written by Cynthia Lenssen Broshi (Jin Shin Jyutsu Journal – Israel) in which she mentions the word “kojiki”.  I thought many readers might be unfamiliar with the ancient Japanese chronicle so here is a brief introduction:

“If you are not feeling well, the most important thing you can do is breathe.”
— Master Jiro Murai

In the early 1900’s, a young philosopher from a prominent medical family rediscovered the profound Art, of what he later called Jin Shin Jyutsu, after he survived the threat of a terminal illness.

In the isolation of the wilderness, he utilized the techniques from his studies of ancient teachings about meditation, finger poses (mudras), and breathing. To his amazement, Jiro was able to reverse the disharmonies of his body and restore his own health. He then dedicated the remaining years of his life to the study of this Art.

Searching for answers, Murai studied the Bible, and ancient Chinese, Greek, and Indian texts. However, it was the Kojiki, the Japanese “Record of Ancient Things,” which describes creation in allegories that opened the door for him. Murai also studied the Chinese acupressure points and ancient acupuncture writings. He compared the experience of what he felt to be much deeper than what he found in the writings. “There is an awareness in Jin Shin Jyutsu that is deeper than technique,” Burmeister says.

From his study of the Kojiki and his 50 years of personal experimentation, Murai concluded that Jin Shin Jyutsu was more than a philosophy of the body.

In the late 1940s, Master Murai met a Japanese American woman, Mary Burmeister. He asked her if she would like to study with him and take a gift from Japan to America. After many years of continued study, Master Murai’s request became a reality.

What is The Kojiki?

2012 marks the 1300th anniversary of the compilation of The Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters). Completed in the year 712, The Kojiki is the oldest existing record of Japanese history, and is a text that is vital to any discussion of ancient Japanese history.

Even if it were merely a historical record, the value of The Kojiki is unquestionable, as it also is a collection of a large amount of Japanese mythology. The Kojiki begins during the period known as Kamiyo (The Age of the Gods), starting with the Japanese creation myth. Other myths include: Izanagi and Izanami’s creation of the islands of Japan and the myriad deities that populated the heavens and this world, Izanagi’s journey to Yomi-no-kuni (the Underworld) in an attempt to bring back Izanami after her death, Susano-o’s battle against the eight-headed eight-tailed serpent Yamata-no-Orochi, the adventures of Okuninushi as he rose to become the deity charged with turning the land of Japan into a true nation, and the descent of Ninigi (grandson of the sun deity Amaterasu), who came from the heavens to rule Japan. These myths share similarities with mythology from around the world, particularly well-known tales from Greek mythology, and this provides an added layer of interest to them.

The exploits of the gods included in The Kojiki lead to a record of the lineage of the Imperial Family up to Empress Suiko (593 – 628 AD), and events that happened during each emperor’s reign. In doing this, The Kojiki traces a path from mythology into historical record, and while it is difficult to say at which point the stories pass from myth and legend into historical fact, this blend of stories gives the reader many different windows into Japanese history and culture.

The Kojiki is not the only collection of Japanese mythology. The Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), compiled in the year 720, collects many similar versions of the myths featured in The Kojiki, although names of gods and other details of the myths change at times. Local myths and legends that flourish throughout eastern Shimane are contained in the Izumo-no-kuni Fudoki, a record of the geography, culture, and folklore of the area that was compiled in 733. Although all of the provinces in Japan compiled a Fudoki, Izumo’s is the only one that still exists in almost complete form, and the stories contained within provide a uniquely Izumo flavor to existing myths and introduce completely original Izumo mythology as well.

To be continued…