Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 4)


The history of Japan emerges from the legendary period around the sixth century AD. The Nihongi, a chronicle written in about AD 720, recounts the history of Japan from the time of the gods down to AD 679. However, at least before the fifth century AD, it is clear that much of this history is fictitious, albeit a fiction that is probably based partly upon fact.1 From archaeological evidence it seems that even as late as the third century BC, Japan was still in the stone age.2 Chinese culture began to enter Japan from Korea around this time, and by the third century AD, local rule had been established in parts of the country.3 One of these small village states, Yamato, began to grow in power and by around AD 350 had subdued the others to form Japan’s first unified state.4


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    As Aston (1972: xv-xvi), who has translated the Nihongi, has written, “The earlier part furnishes a very complete assortment of all the forms of Untrue of which the human mind is capable, whether myth, legend, fable, romance, gossip, mere blundering, or downright fiction ... Then we have a series of legendary stories full of miraculous incidents, but in which grains of truth may here and there be discerned ... The narrative becomes more and more real as it goes on, until about the 5th century (AD) we find ourselves in what, without too violent a departure from truth, may be called genuine history...”Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sugimoto & Swain (1978: 2).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tuge (1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sugimoto & Swain (1978: 3).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nakayama (1969: 10).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sugimoto & Swain (1978: 28).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nihongi, 19, 38; trans. Aston (1972: II, 68)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nakayama (1969: 7–8).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wang (1988).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nihongi, 30, 19; trans. Aston (1972: II, 400). Note that the I -feng-li was another name for the Lin-te-li, used in China between AD 665 and AD 728.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Quoted by Nakayama (1969: 70).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nakayama (1969: 70).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sugimoto & Swain (1978: 72).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sugimoto & Swain (1978: 128).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wang (1988).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    For a detailed discussion of the Jokyo calendar, see Nakayama (1969: 116–152).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Knobel (1905); Stephenson (1968).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kuniji (1979).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    By a simultaneous event, I mean an event that is observed at the same moment of an absolute time scale, such as is given by an atomic clock, no matter where they are observed from.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DurhamUK

Personalised recommendations