Nihon Shoki

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  • Completed: 720
  • Japanese: 日本書紀 (Nihon shoki)
  • Alternate name: 日本紀 (Nihongi)

Excluding the contemporary Fudoki, the Nihon Shoki is coupled with the Kojiki as the first two domestic, Japanese histories. Officially finished in 720 CE, the Nihon Shoki had been in progress for almost fifty years. Its compilation was inspired in part by the Confucian notion of producing annals of each regime, which could then be used to guide later generations.[1]


Issues of Accuracy

The Nihon Shoki is infamous for its fabrications in order to glorify the Imperial line. However, beyond its nationalistic issues, factual and dating issues must also be addressed.


The Nihon Shoki dates have long been called into question. W.G. Aston, the translator, notes that in many places the dates need to be moved up as much as 120 years.

Such an example deals with continental relations:

Nihon Shoki X:19; p.269n--Aston's note

Wu 呉, called by the Japanese Go or Kure, was a Chinese dynasty, the last sovreign of which was deposed A.D. 280, long before the despatch of [Achi no Omi and his son, Tsuga no Omi]. We learn, however, from a note to the Shukai edition that this appellation was aplied (perhaps popularly) to all the six dynasties established at Nanking or the neighbourhood from Wu to Chen inclusive, ie. from A.D. 229-589.

It can be seen, then, that a simple reference to a mission sent to "Wu China" could possibly refer to a later dynasty and period.

Terminology aside, dates presented in the Nihon Shoki must be taken with a grain of salt.

Original Text Link

  • The original Chinese text (in modernized kanji) with a few notes (kana for the poems and Western year dates) can be found in html format here [1].

Translation Purchase Link

Aston's translation ISBN 0804836752


  1. Conrad Totman, Early Modern Japan, University of California Press (1993), 25.
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