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New Book on Izumo Myths

The latest short book in the Mimusubi Essays on Shinto series is Myths from the Izumo Fudoki. The Fudoki are descriptions of the ancient provinces of Japan, commissioned by the Tennō in the eighth century, and thus valuable records of what Japan was like in the distant past.

The ones that survive are, at least. There should have been somewhere between sixty and seventy of them (the number of provinces was changing around the period when they were being written, so it is hard to say how many were expected), but only five survive in anything approaching a complete form. The Izumo no Kuni Fudoki is the most complete — it appears to be missing a couple of short sections, but that is all.

The Fudoki provide a lot of information on the structure of early Japan, but for my purposes the most interesting content is the legends given to explain place names. These range from a sentence or two to quite substantial myths. These myths, and the kami that appear in them, often do not appear in the myths collected in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, and because they were compiled in the regions for the central government, rather than by the central government, they sometimes seem to have a slightly different perspective.

I plan to produce more essays like this, initially as part of my Patreon, so if you are interested, you might want to sign up. The first one is this month’s essay.

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