Empress Jingu Kogo I
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2007
Until the 700s, the mystical traditions and religious beliefs of Shinto were part of Japanese oral history. After that they were transmitted in writing, Chinese writing.
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Lead: Until the 700s, the mystical traditions and religious beliefs of Shinto were part of Japanese oral history. After that they were transmitted in writing, Chinese writing.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: Written communication was not introduced to Japan until the 5th century and then by Chinese. Myths and history were transmitted orally by the Japanese until the eighth century.
At that time, the Imperial court of Japan ordered a compilation of texts to include ancient beliefs and customs as well as more recent official records of Japanese history. With no distinctively written Japanese language, the two texts were written in Chinese. The Nihongi or Chronicles of Japan compiled in 720 covers the myths and legends of ancient Japan beginning with the first Emperor “Jimmu,” who ascended his throne about 1000 years before. The Nihongi consists of thirty chapters with the later chapters more historically accurate and including records of the arrival of Buddhism in Japan in the 6th century and records of the imperial family, government and powerful Japanese clans.
With Buddhist and Confucian influences from China and Korea, the Japanese needed a name to protect and define their unique ancient practices and beliefs so that this system could be respected and transmitted to future generations. By the 500s they referred to their religious belief system as Shinto.
The Kojiki or Records of Ancient Matters was completed eight years before the Nihongi- in 712. The Kojiki gives a more detailed account of centuries of Japanese myths and legends. The stories, which include the beauties of the natural world and the powers of nature, became an integral part of the Japanese belief system of Shinto. Next Time: An Empress of Legend.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.