Japanese Mythology: Hermeneutics on Scripture

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2014-08-14
  • Publisher: Routledge
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The notion of Japanese mythology was invented in the modern era under the influence of Westernization. Before the modern era, only the notion history existed in Japan. Mythological events were considered historical moments rather than mythology. In this volume Professor Isomae argues that Japanese mythology finds its uniqueness in the persistence of the interpretation of two specific scriptures: Kojiki (Tale of Old Age, written in 712 A.D.) and Nihonshoki (Chronicle of Japanese History, written in 720 A.D.). Under the political banner of Japan, both the Imperial Court and the general public have searched for the origin of their identity in Kojiki and Nihonshoki. In this sense, Japanese mythology, whether it was considered mythology or history, has functioned as scripture. Through the act of commentary and interpretation, the sacred books serve to connect interpreters to their historical origins, authenticating where they came from, the emergence of the Japanese archipelago, and the uniqueness of the Japanese people. This book explores the history of the interpretation of Japanese mythology, the Japanese attraction to this act of historical grounding, and the varying identities that emerged during different historical periods. National and personal identity has always depended on the hermeneutic of scripture, namely Kojiki and Nihonshoki. Consequently, this work will make it evident that there exists no clear and unified substance of Japanese mythology, but rather a nostalgic desire to go back to historical origins and authenticate identity through the interpretation of scripture.

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