history: Japan


Japan's early tradition of historiography was derived from China. About the 3d cent. a.d. the Japanese began to keep imperial archives, and an accurate chronology was developed by the early 6th cent. The Kojiki (early 8th cent.) purported to be a history of the royal line since mythological times. It was supplemented by the more detailed Nihonshiki, which was continued to the end of the 9th cent. by five official histories. In the 17th cent. Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628–1701) started to compile a history of Japan modeled on the Chinese dynastic histories; supplements appeared until 1906. Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) was the leading figure in a movement to revive Shinto and imperial prestige; his commentary on the Kojiki was completed in 1798.

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