Nihon Shoki - The Chronicles of Japan

Nihon Shoki [日本書紀] is the second oldest book in classical Japanese history. This book that literally means Chronicles of Japan proved to be an important tool for historians, as it has the most complete record of ancient Japan.

The Nihon Shoki was completed in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō at Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Gensho. The book is also called Nihongi [日本紀] which means Japanese Chronicles.

Nihon Shoki starts with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings (starting with Kuninotokotachi), and continues with several myths, just like Kojiki, but continues its account through events of the 8th century.

It is believed to accurately record the last kingdoms of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jito. Nihon Shoki focuses on the merits of virtuous rulers, as well as the mistakes of bad rulers. It describes episodes from mythological times and diplomatic contacts with other countries.

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Nihon Shoki was written in chinese classic, as was common in official documents of the time. Nihon Shoki also contains numerous transliteration notes informing the reader how the words were pronounced in Japanese.

Collectively, the stories in this book and Kojiki are called Kiki stories. The tale of Urashima Tarō it is developed from the brief mention in Nihon Shoki (emperor Yūryaku, year 22) that a certain son of Urashima visited Horaisan and saw wonders.

Nihon shoki - the chronicles of japan
Urashima Taro
Table of Content Show Summary

Nihon Shoki's Writing

The Nihon Shoki compilation came when Emperor Tenmu ordered 12 people, including Prince Kawashima, to edit the old empire history. The process was carried out until part of May of 720.

Prince Toneri had been compiling Nihongi under the emperor's orders; he completed it, submitting 30 volumes of history and one volume of genealogy. The compilation process is generally studied through the stylistic analysis of each chapter.

Although written in Literary Kanji, some sections use styles characteristic of Japanese publishers. Nihon Shoki is a synthesis of older documents, specifically on the records that have been kept continuously in the Yamato court since the 6th century.

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It also includes documents and folklore presented by clans serving the court. Before Nihon Shoki, there were Tennōki and Kokki compiled by Prince Shōtoku and Soga no Umako, but as they were stored at Soga's residence, they were burned at the time of the Isshi Incident.

Work collaborators refer to various sources that do not exist today. Among these sources, three Baekje documents (Kudara-ki, etc.) are cited primarily for the purpose of registering diplomatic affairs.

Records possibly written in Baekje may have been the basis for the quotations in Nihon Shoki. Textual criticism shows that scholars fleeing the destruction of the Baekje for Yamato wrote these stories and the authors of Nihon Shoki relied heavily on these sources.

This must be taken into account in relation to the statements regarding the old historical rivalries between the ancient Korean kingdoms of Silla, Goguryeo and Baekje. The use of Baekje place names in Nihon Shoki is another piece of evidence that shows the history used by Baekje's documents.

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Nihon shoki - the chronicles of japan
Nihon Shiki Writing

Chapters of Nihon Shoki

  • Chapter 01: Kami no Yo no Kami no maki;
  • Chapter 02: Kami no Yo no Shimo no maki;
  • Chapter 03: (Emperor Jimmu) Kan'yamato Iwarebiko in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 04:
    • (Emperor Suizei) Kamu Nunakawamimi at Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Annei) Shikitsuhiko Tamatemi at Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Itoku) Ōyamato Hikosukitomo no Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kōshō) Mimatsuhiko Sukitomo in Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kōan) Yamato Tarashihiko Kuni Oshihito in Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kōrei) Ōyamato Nekohiko Futoni in Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kōgen) amayamato Nekohiko Kunikuru in Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kaika) Wakayamato Nekohiko Ōbibi in Sumeramikoto;
    • Chapter 05: (Emperor Sujin) Mimaki Iribiko Iniye no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 06: (Emperor Suinin) Ikume Iribiko Isachi in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 07:
    • (Emperor Keikō) Ōtarashihiko Oshirowake in Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Seimu) Waka Tarashihiko at Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 08: (Emperor Chūai) Tarashi Nakatsuhiko no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 09: (Empress Jingū) Okinaga Tarashihime no Mikoto;
  • Chapter 10: (Emperor Ōjin) Homuda in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 11: (Emperor Nintoku) Ōsasagi in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 12:
    • (Emperor Richū) Izahowake no Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Hanzei) Mitsuhawake at Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 13:
    • (Emperor Ingyō) Oasazuma Wakugo no Sukune no Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Ankō) Anaho no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 14: (Emperor Yūryaku) Ōhatsuse no Waka Takeru no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 15:
    • (Emperor Seinei) Shiraka no Take Hirokuni Oshi Waka Yamato Neko no Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Kenzō) Woke at Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Ninken) Oke no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 16: (Emperor Buretsu) Ohatsuse no Waka Sasagi no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 17: (Emperor Keitai) Ōdo in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 18:
    • (Emperor Ankan) Hirokuni Oshi Take Kanahi at Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Senka) Take Ohirokuni Oshi Tate at Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 19: (Emperor Kinmei) Amekuni Oshiharaki Hironiwa in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 20: (Emperor Bidatsu) Nunakakura at Futo Tamashiki at Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 21:
    • (Emperor Yōmei) Tachibana no Toyohi no Sumeramikoto;
    • (Emperor Sushun) Hatsusebe at Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 22: (Empress Suiko) Toyomike Kashikiya Hime no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 23: (Emperor Jomei) Okinaga Tarashi Hihironuka in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 24: (Empress Kōgyoku) Love Toyotakara Ikashi Hitarashi no Hime no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 25: (Emperor Kōtoku) Love Yorozu Toyohi no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 26: (Empress Saimei) Love Toyotakara Ikashi Hitarashi no Hime no Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 27: (Emperor Tenji) Love Mikoto Hirakasuwake in Sumeramikoto;
  • Chapter 28: (Emperor Tenmu) Ama no Nunakahara Oki no Mahito no Sumeramikoto, Kami no maki;
  • Chapter 29: (Emperor Tenmu) Ama no Nunakahara Oki no Mahito no Sumeramikoto, Shimo no maki;
  • Chapter 30: (Empress Jitō) Takamanohara Hirono Hime no Sumeramikoto;

Where to buy?

Nihon Shoki is not available in Portuguese or in the same way as the original book. But we will present below some Amazon books that are in English or may highlight some points of Nihon Shoki. Hope you like it! Thank you for reading the article.