Sacred Texts  Shinto 

The Emergence of Amaterasu (Public Domain Image)

The Kojiki

translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain


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The Kojiki is one of the two primary sources for Shinto, the Japanese national religion. It starts in the realm of myth, with the creation of Japan from foam. Innumerable gods and goddesses are described. The narrative moves from mythology to historical legends, and culminates in a chronology of the early Imperial line.

The book is densely footnoted, almost to the point where the text is buried in apparatus. However, even this cannot shroud the wonderful story-telling. There are supernatural episodes, and tales of murder, passion and betrayal, all interspersed with extemporaneous poetry, reminiscent of Icelandic sagas.

Production notes: I worked on this for four years, on and off. I searched for a long time to locate a copy of the Tuttle reprint of the Chamberlain translation, which, despite being published in the 1970s is out of print and hard to obtain. In 2000, a copy fortuitously turned up in a local used bookstore. However, limitations of OCR technology at the time made it difficult to proof the text, so I put it aside. In 2005, I rescanned the book using more recent OCR software with better results, and managed to complete the proof. Even still, it took quite a bit of work to finish the job, particularly creating bitmaps of hundreds of images of Chinese and Japanese characters.

Title Page


I. The Text and its Authenticity, Together with Bibliographical Notes
II. Methods of Translation
III. The Chronicles of Japan
IV. Manners and Customs of the Early Japanese
V. Religious And Political Ideas of the Early Japanese, Beginnings of the Japanese Nation, and Credibility of the National Records

Volume I

Section I.--The Beginning of Heaven and Earth
Section II.--The Seven Divine Generations
Section III.--The Island of Onogoro
Section IV.--Courtship of the Deities The Male-Who-Invites and the Female Who-Invites
Section V.--Birth of the Eight Islands
Section VI.--Birth of the Various Deities
Section VII.--Retirement of Her Augustness The Princess-Who-Invites
Section VIII.--The Slaying of the Fire-Deity
Section IX.--The Land of Hades
Section X.--The Purification of the August Person
Section XI.--Investiture of the Three Deities; The Illustrious August Children
Section XII.--The Crying and Weeping of His Impetuous-Male-Augustness
Section XIII.--The August Oath
Section XIV.--The August Declaration of the Division of the August Male Children and the August Female Children
Section XV.--The August Ravages of His Impetuous-Male-Augustness
Section XVI.--The Door of the Heavenly Rock-Dwelling
Section XVII.--The August Expulsion of His-Impetuous-Male-Augustness
Section XVIII.--The Eight-Forked Serpent
Section XIX.--The Palace of Suga
Section XX.--The August Ancestors of the Deity-Master-Of-The-Great Land
Section XII.--The White Hare of Inaba
Section XXII.--Mount Tema
Section XXIII.--The Nether-Distant-Land
Section XXIV.--The Wooing of the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears
Section XXV.--The Cup Pledge
Section XXVI.--The Deities the August Descendants of the Deity Master-of-the-Great-Land
Section XXVII.--The Little-Prince-the-Renowned-Deity
Section XXVIII.--The August-Luck-Spirit-the-August-Wondrous-Spirit
Section XXIX.--The August Children of the Great-Harvest-Deity And of the Swift-Mountain-Deity
Section XXX.--The August Deliberation for Pacifying the Land
Section XXXI.--The Heavenly-Young-Prince
Section XXXII.--Abdication of the Deity Master-of-the-Great-Land
Section XXXIII.--The August Descent from Heaven of His Augustness the August Grandchild
Section XXXIV.--The August Reign in Himuka of His Augustness Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty
Section XXXV.--The Duchess of Saru
Section XXXVI.--The Deity Prince of Saruta at Azaka
Section XXXVII.--The Curse of the Deity Great-Mountain-Possessor
Section XXXVIII.--The August Child-Bearing of Princess-Blossoming Brilliantly-Like-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees
Section XXXIX.--The August Exchange of Luck
Section XL.--The Palace of the Ocean-Possessor
Section XLI.--Submission of His Augustness Fire-Shine
Section XLII.--The Parturition-House of Cormorants' Feathers
Section XLIII.--The August Children of His Augustness Cormorant-Thatch-Meeting-Incompletely

Volume II

Section XLIV.--Reign of the Emperor Jim-mu (Part I.--His Progress Eastward, and Death of His Elder Brother)
Section XLV.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part II.--The Cross-Sword Sent Down From Heaven).
Section XLVI.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part III.--The Gigantic Crow and Gods With Tails)
Section XLVII.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part IV.--The Ukashi Brethren)
Section XLVIII.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part V.--The Earth-Spider of the Cave of Osaka)
Section XLIX.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part. VI.--The Prince of Tomi and the Shiki Brethren)
Section L.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part VII.--The Empire Pacified)
Section LI.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part. VIII.--He Weds I-suke-yori-hime)
Section LII.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part. IX--Troubles Which Followed His Decease).
Section LIII.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part X.--Genealogies)
Section LIV.--Emperor Jim-mu (Part XI.--His Age and Place Of Burial)
Section LV.--Emperor Sui-zei
Section LVI.--Emperor An-nei
Section LVII.--Emperor I-toku
Section LVIII.--Emperor Ko-sho
Section LIX.--Emperor Koan
Section LX.--Emperor Kō-rei
Section XLI.--Emperor Kō-gen
Section LXII.--Emperor Kai-kuwa
Section LXIII.--Emperor Sū-jin (Part I.--Genealogies)
Section LXIV.--Emperor Sū-jin (Part II.--A Pestilence Is Staid By Oho-tata-ne-ko)
Section LXV.--Emperor Sū-jin (PART III: Story of Oho-tata-ne-ko's Birth)
Section LXVI.--Emperor Sū-jin (Part IV.--War With King Take-hani-yasu)
Section LXVII.--Emperor Sū-jin (Part V.--Peace Restored and Tribute Levied)
Section LXVIII.--Emperor Sū-jin (Part VI.--His Age and Place of Burial).
Section LXIX.--Emperor Sui-nin (Part I.--Genealogies)
Section LXX. Emperor Sui-nin (Part II. Conspiracy of King Saho-biko and the Empress Saho-bime)
Section LXXI.--Emperor Sui-nin (Part III.--Birth of Prince Homu-chi-wake and Death of the Conspirators)
Section LXXII.--Emperor Sui-nin (Part IV.--The Dumb Prince Homu-chi-wake)
Section LXXIII. Emperor Sui-nin (Part. V.--His Later Wives.)
Section LXXIV.--Emperor Sui-nin (Part VI.--Taji-Mori Brings Back the Orange From the Eternal Land.)
Section LXXV.--Emperor Sui-nin (Part VII.--His Death and that of the Empress Hibasu.)
Section LXXVI.--Empress Kei-ko (Part I,--Genealogies)
Section LXXVII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part II.--The Maidens Ye-Hime and Oto-Hime).
Section LXXVIII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part III. Various Deeds.)
Section LXXIX.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part IV.--Yamato-take Slays His Elder Brother)
Section LXXX. Emperor Kei-kō (Part V.--Yamato-Take Slays the Kumaso Bravoes)
Section LXXXI.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part VI.--Yamato-take Slays the Idzumo Bravo)
Section LXXXII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part VII.--Yamato-take is Sent to Subdue the East, and Visits His Aunt at Ise)
Section LXXXIII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part VIII.--Yamato-take Slays the Rulers of Sagamu.)
Section LXXXIV.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part IX.--Yamato-take's Empress Stills the Waves
Section LXXXV.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part X.--Yamato-Take Slays the Deity of the Ashigara Pass.)
Section LXXXVI.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XI.--Yamato-take Dwells in the Palace of Sakawori.)
Section LXXXVII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XII.--Yamato-take Wooes Princess Miyazu)
Section LXXXVIII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XIII.--Yamato-take Meets the Deity of Mount Ibuki)
Section LXXXIX. Emperor Kei-kō (Part XIV.--The Death of Yamato-take).
Section XC.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XV.--Yamato-take Turns into a White Bird)
Section XCI.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XVI.--Yamato-Take's Butler)
Section XCII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XVII.--Yamato-take's Descendants)
Section XCIII.--Emperor Kei-kō (Part XVIII. His Age and Place of Burial)
Section XCIV.--Emperor Sei-mu
Section XCV.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part I.--Genealogies)
Section XCVI. Emperor Chiū-ai (Part II.--The Possession of Korea Divinely Promised)
Section XCVII.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part III. Preparations for the Conquest of Korea)
Section XCVIII.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part IV.--The Empress Jin-gō Conquers Korea)
Section XCIX.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part V.--The Empress Jin-gō Fishes in Tsukushi)
Section C.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part VI.--The Empress Jin-gō Subdues Yamato)
Section CI.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part VIII.--The Heir Apparent Exchanges Names with the Great Deity Izasa-Wake)
Section CII.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part VIII.--The Empress Jin-gō Presents Liquor to the Heir Apparent)
Section CIII.--Emperor Chiū-ai (Part IX.--His Death and that of the Empress Jin-gō)
Section CIV.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part 1.--Genealogies)
Section CV.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part II.--He Divides the Inheritance Between His Three Sons)
Section CVI.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part III.--He Wooes Princess Miya-nushi-ya-kaha-ye)
Section CVII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part IV.--He Grants Princess Kaminaga to His Son Oho-Sazaki)
Section CVIII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part V.--Songs of the Territorial Owners of Yeshinu)
Section CIX.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part VI.--Various Deeds)
Section CX.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part VIII.--Tribute From Korea)
Section CXI.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part VIII.--The Emperor Intoxicated)
Section CXII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part IX.--Troubles Which Followed His Decease)
Section CXIII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part X.--Princes Oho-sazaki And Uji-no-waki-iratsuko Cede the Empire to Each Other)
Section CXIV.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part XI.--Ama-no-hi-boko Crosses Over to Japan)
Section CXV.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part XII.--Descendants of Ama-no-hi-boko, and Treasures Brought by Him.)
Section CXVI.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part XIII.--The Youth-of-the-Glow-on-the-Autumn-Mountains and the Youth-of-the-Haze-on-the-Spring-Mountains)
Section CXVII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part XVI.--Genealogies)
Section CXVIII.--Emperor Ō-jin (Part XV.--His Age and Place of Burial)

Volume III

Section CXIX.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part I.--Genealogies)
Section CXX: Emperor Nin-toku (Part II.--Various Deeds)
Section CXXI.--Emperor Nin-toku [Part III.--He Remits the Taxes)
Section CXXII.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part IV.--He Loves Princess Kuro)
Section CXXIII. Emperor Nin-toku Part V.--The Empress Retires to Yamashiro)
Section CXXIV.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part VI.--He Follows the Empress into Yamashiro)
Section CXXV.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part VIII.--He Loves Yata-no-waki-iratsume)
Section CXXVI.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part VIII.--Death of King Hayabusa-Wake and Queen Medori)
Section CXXVII.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part VIII.--Queen Medori's Armlet)
Section CXXVIII.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part IX.--A Wild-Goose Lays an Egg)
Section CXXIX:--Emperor Nin-toku (Part X.--A Vessel Is Made Into A Lute)
Section CXXX.--Emperor Nin-toku (Part XI.--His Age and Place of Burial)
Section CXXXI.--Emperor Ri-chiu (Part I.--Genealogies)
Section CXXXII.--Emperor Ri-chiu (Part II.--He is Taken to Iso-no-kami)
Section CXXXIII.--Emperor Ri-chiu (Part III.--His Rebellious Brother and the Latter's Retainer Sobakari Are Slain)
Section CXXXIV.--Emperor Ri-chiu (Part IV.--Various Deeds)
Section CXXXV.--Emperor Ri-chiu (Part V.--His Age and Place of Burial)
Section CXXXV.--Emperor Han-zei
Section CXXXVII.--Emperor In-giyō (Part I--Genealogies)
Section CXXXVIII.--Emperor In-giyō (Part II.--His Sickness is Cured by a Korean Physician)
Section CXXXIX.--Emperor In-giyō (Part III. He Rectifies the People's Names)
Section CXI. Emperor In-giyō (Part IV.--His Age and Place of Burial)
Section CXLI.--Emperor In-giyō (Part V.--Prince Karu Loves His Sister Princess So-tohoshi)
Section CXLII.--Emperor In-giyō (Part VI.--War Between Prince Karu and Prince Anaho)
Section CXLIII.--Emperor In-giyō (Part VII.--Death of Prince Karu and Princess So-tohoshi)
Section CXLIV.--Emperor An-kō (Part I.--He Slays King Oho-kusaka)
Section CXLV.--Emperor An-kō (Part II.--He is Slain by King Ma-yowa)
Section CXLVI.--Emperor An-kō (Part III.--Prince Oho Hatsuse Slays Princes Kuro-biko and Shiro-biro)
Section CXLVII.--Emperor An-kō (Part IV.--Death of Prince Ma-yowa and of the Grandee Tsubura)
Section CXLVIII.--Emperor An-kō (Part V:--Prince Oho-Hatsuse Slays Prince Oshiha)
Section CXLIX.--Emperor An-kō (Part VI.--Flight of Princes Ohoke and Woke)
Section CL.--Emperor Yū-riyaku, (I.--Genealogies)
Section CLI.--Emperor Yu-riyaku (Part II.--Various Deeds)
Section CLII.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part III.--The Roof of the House of the Great Departmental Lord of Shiki)
Section CLIII.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part IV.--He Wooes Princess Waka-kusaka-be)
Section CLIV.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part V.--Story of the Woman Akawi-ko)
Section CLV.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part VI.--He Makes a Progress to Yeshinu)
Section CLVI.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part VII.--The Horse-fly and the Dragon-fly)
Section CLVII.--Emperor Yu-riyaku (Part VII.--Adventure with a Wild Boar)
Section CLVIII.--Emperor Yū-Riyaku (Part IX.--Revelation of the Great Deity of Kadzuraki, Lord of One Word)
Section CLIX.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part X.--The Mound of the Metal Spade)
Section CLX.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part XI.--The Leaf in the Cup)
Section CLXI.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part XII.--Songs by the Emperor and Princess Wodo)
Section CLXII.--Emperor Yū-riyaku (Part XIII.--His Age and Place of Burial)
Section CLXIII.--Emperor Sei-nei (Part I.--Search for a Successor to Him)
Section CLXIV.--Emperor Sei-nei (Part II.--Princes Ohoke and Woke are Discovered)
Section CLXV.--Emperor Sei-nei (Part III.--The Grandee Shibi)
Section CLXVI.--Emperor Sei-nei (Part IV.--Prince Ohoke Cedes the Empire to Prince Woke)
Section CLXVII.--Emperor Ken-zō (Part I.--The Old Woman Oki-Me)
Section CLXVIII.--Emperor Ken-zō (Part II.--He Slays The Boar-Herd)
Section CLXIX.--Emperor Ken-zō (Part III.--The Emperor Yū-riyaku's Mausoleum is Disfigured)
Section CLXX.--Emperor Ken-zō (Part IV.--His Age and Place of Burial)
Section CLXXI.--Emperor Nin-ken
Section CLXXII--Emperor Mu-retsu
Section CLXXIII.--Emperor Kei-tai
Section CXXXIV.--Emperor Kan-an
Section CLXXV.--Emperor Sen-kuwa
Section CLXXVI.--Emperor Kim-mei
Section CLXXVII.--Emperor Bi-datsu
Section CLXXVIII.--Emperor Yōmei
Section CLXXIX.--Emperor Su-jun
Section CLXXX.--Empress Sui-ko


Appendix I: Japanese Text of the Songs of the Kojiki, Transliterated into Roman
Appendix II. Chronology of Sovereigns Mentioned in the Kojiki and Nihongi