Category Archives: Kojiki

“Dying Gods” of the Japanese Worldview

Okunomichi:  We have just come across an essay by  Yamaori Tetsuo, a distingished scholar of religious studies. Written originally in Japanese, its clear English translation evokes in the Western reader a better understanding of what it is to be Japanese. We offer a few paragraphs and suggest that the full essay be read at http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a02903/.

Keywords: Environment, worldview, religion, mythology, Shinto, kami, society.

The Japanese World View: Three Keys to Understanding

by Yamaori Tetsuo

“Along with a sense of transience, the natural environment also fostered a comforting awareness of the cycle of the seasons and the rebirth that invariably follows death. Flowers bloomed in the spring, leaves turned color and fell in the autumn, freezing winds swept the trees bare in the winter. But invariably the old year gave way to the new, and spring arrived once again. The knowledge that sunny days inevitably followed cloudy ones gave people the strength to live from day to day. Armed with this awareness, they learned to face life with grace and patience, flexibility and fortitude, and to face impending death with quiet acceptance, returning to the earth to become one with nature again.”

“Shintō is translated “the way of the kami,” and the kami of Japan are very different in character from the divinities with which most Westerners are familiar. From prehistoric times countless kami were believed to dwell deep within nature, in the mountains, forests, and waters of the archipelago. These were not anthropomorphic beings with distinct personalities and physical attributes. The vast majority were nameless but potent spirits of the sort believed to inhabit places and objects of all kinds. For that reason, there was a tendency to refer to them collectively, as kami-gami, rather than in the singular.”

“In ancient Japan, however, the relationship between mythological and historical events was viewed quite differently. In the Japanese cosmology, human society was subject to the same laws and rhythms as the deities who helped found it. For this reason, the Japanese viewed the origins of their country in a very different light from the kind of historical view common in the West. …The perception that the kami died just as human beings enabled the Japanese to view myth and history as seamlessly linked and nurtured a distinctive view of the cosmos, of life and death, and of the human condition.”

“What is the relationship between dying gods and a political system predicated on pluralism? Both reflect a view of the cosmos, human life, and human society shaped by a keen awareness of the impermanent, ever-changing nature of the world in which we live.”

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Kojiki Izen no Sho: Uetsufumi no Kenkyū (Documents Before Kojiki: Uetsufumi Research) by Ago Kiyohiko

  UETSUFUMI is an old document written in ancient scripts. It was discovered in modern times in 1820. The authors/editors listed below stem from the 13th century. This document offers an alternate view of ancient history which is at odds in many ways from the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, and is only one of the dozens of documents which have not been accepted by mainstream scholars. There is a digital copy at the online National Diet Library, http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/772039/1.  See Wikipedia for a description of 『上記』(うえつふみ).  See also Avery Morrow: The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan, 2014, pp 169-171.

BOOK DESCRIPTION  [from http://catalog.stanford.edu/view/6620755]

TITLE:   古事記以前の書 : [「ウエツフミ」の研究].  Kojiki izen no sho : [“Uetsufumi” no kenkyū]

AUTHOR/CREATOR:   吾鄉清彦.  Agō, Kiyohiko.

LANGUAGE:   Japanese.

EDITION:   新装特製版.  Shinsō tokuseiban.

IMPRINT:   東京: 大陸書房, 昭和 50 [1975].  Tōkyō : Tairiku Shobō, Shōwa 50 [1975]

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION:   490 p. : ill., port. ; 19 cm.

CONTENTS OF BOOK

     NOTE:  Okunomichi is grateful to S.K. for translation.

FOREWORD: HIROMICHI NAKANO (YUDO NAKANO)

INTRODUCTION

UETSUFUMI-RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS

CHAPTER 1: SUMMARY OF UETSUFUMI  p23

Ancient references/bibliography.  Scope and Content.  Uniqueness and alleged theory for  fabrication.  Historical Evidence and Inquiry.  Status and value as classic.

CHAPTER 2 : EDITORS OF UETSUFUMI  p37

Prince Ohtomo Yoshinao 大友能直 [1172-1223].  Prince Ohtomo Chikahide 大友親秀 [1195-1248].  Nobumasu Asakura [1583–1637].  Other Editors.

CHAPTER 3: PEOPLE WHO PRESERVED AND TRANSMITTED UETSUFUMI AND RESEARCHERS  p61

CHAPTER 4: UETSUFUMI-RELATED MATERIALS  p89

ARAHARI NO KI(Arahari Record) and 14 other  Books.KAMUKORIFUMIand 13 other Books.  UETSUFUMI Supplement.  UETSUFUMI Study.  TAKACHIHO KOMONJI DEN.  UETSUFUMI-SHOYAKU (partial translation) and UETSUFUMI-BISHO (view/opinion).  References for Current UETSUFUMI.

CHAPTER 5: COMPARISON BETWEEN UETSUFUMI and 3 CLASSIC BOOKS  p23

8 Amatsukami and 16 Mythological ages.  Creation of Realm by NAGI and NAMI Kami.  Creation of Kami by NAGI and NAMI Kami.  TAKAMAGAHARA Reign.  NINIGI Reign.  HOHODEMI Reign.  UGAYA Reign.

CHAPTER 6 : COMPARISON BETWEEN UETSUFUMI AND ANCIENT HISTORY/LEGEND   

Comparison between This Book  and TAKEUCHI Komonjo.  Comparison between This Book and FUJI Komonjo.  Comparison between This Book and KUKI Komonjo.  Comparison between This Book and HOTSUMA TSUTAE.

CHAPTER 7: DISCUSSION OF ANCIENT JAPANESE WRITING (LETTERS)  p213

Summary of Ancient Japanese Letters.  Argument regarding the Existence of Ancient Japanese Letters.  Ancient Japanese Letters Included in UETSUFUMI.  The Great Achievement of the Compilation of the History.  Newly Discovered evidence for the Existence of Ancient Japanese Letters.

CHAPTER 8: UETSUFUMI as  “BOOK OF THE WAY OF KAMI” and “BOOK OF SPIRIT RESEARCH” p235

UETSUFUMI as a BOOK OF THE WAY OF KAMI.  UETSUFUMI as a BOOK OF SPIRIT RESEARCH.

CHAPTER 9: UETSUFUMI AS A SCIENCE BOOK  p257

Mathematics.  Astronomy.  Life Science.  Metallurgy Technology.  Medical Science.  Civil Engineering and Architecture technology.  Physics.  Chemistry.

CHAPTER 10: HIDDEN DEEP WORDS AND SONGS CONTAINED IN UETSUFUMI  p 293

Deep Hidden Words.  Songs

CHAPTER 11:  ACTIVITIES LINEAGE of the  神人  in UETSUFUMI  p349

The Activities and Lineage of NAGI and NAMI Kami.  The Activities and Lineage of OHKUNINUSHI NO MIKOTO.  The Activities and Lineage of TAKAMIMUSUBI NO KAMI and KAMIMUSUBI NO KAMI.  The Activities and Lineage of OHTOSHI NO KAMI.  The Activities and Lineage of KUSUSHI KAMI and Others.  The Activities and Lineage of TSUMIHA-YAEKOTOSHIRO-NUSHI.  The Activities and Lineage of the house of Sanjoshin.  The Activities and Lineage of TACHIKARAO Kami.  The Activities and Lineage of SARUTAHIKO NO KAMI and NAGASA NO KAMI.  Imperial Lineage between 46th and 53rd Periods of UGAYA Dynasty.  The Activities of the Descendant of 70th Emperor of UGAYA dynasty.  The Activities of the Descendant of 71st Emperor of UGAYA dynasty.  The Activities of the Descendant of  Emperor JINMU.  The Dynasty of the End of UGAYA Era and the Beginning of KAMUYAMATO Era.

CHAPTER 12 :  FUTURE RESEARCH Topics in UETSUFUMI  p445

Bibliography Related to this Book.  A  Project for Correcting the Prior False/Inaccurate Information.  A Project for Revising and Adding to the Current Insufficient and Inadequate

Information and Correcting the Current Incorrect Interpretation.  A Project for Verifying the Information in this Book by Visiting/Sudying Historical Sites.  Exploration of Topics not Covered in Books by Other Authors. 

EPILOGUE