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New Book: Myths from the Hitachi Fudoki

I have just released two more of the past essays from my Patreon on Amazon. Myths from the Hitachi Fudoki retells and comments on the myths found in the Hitachi-no-Kuni Fudoki. This text was compiled by order of the Tennō in the early eighth century, and describes the ancient province of Hitachi, which roughly corresponds to modern Ibaraki Prefecture, to the northeast of Tokyo.

Over fifty of these Fudoki seem to have been prepared (there should have been over sixty, but there are no surviving references at all to some of them, so they may never have existed), but only five survive as substantial documents. The most substantial is the Izumo-no-Kuni Fudoki, which I have also written about, but the Hitachi-no-Kuni Fudoki is not far behind.

The Fudoki are interesting because they record myths that are different from those in the texts prepared by the central government. In the Hitachi-no-Kuni Fudoki, for example, Yamato Takeru is a very important figure, but he is consistently referred to as Tennō, which he is not in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. There are also important insights into early Shinto practice, such as the foundation of a jinja as part of a bargain with the kami to let people take over part of their territory.

These myths are not generally well known even in Japan, although there are a handful of exceptions that have taken on a life of their own. They are well worth reading to see the diversity of early Shinto.

The two essays are also available separately on Gumroad: Part One and Part Two.


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