Book Announcement: Senmyō: Old Japanese Imperial Edicts in the National Histories 697-887

Senmyō: Old Japanese Imperial Edicts in the National Histories 697-887
Ross Bender

The Old Japanese edicts in Shoku Nihongi have been intensively if not exhaustively studied. Remarkably, the readings that Motoori Norinaga assigned to them in the eighteenth century are essentially in place still today. Senmyō, due to Norinaga’s prescribing of the canon, has come to be the categorization for these sixty-two imperial rescripts. However, little to no attention has been paid either in Japan or the West to a larger number of Old Japanese edicts in senmyōtai appearing in the later National Histories. In addition, the four ninth-century official court histories inscribed in classical Chinese — Nihon KōkiShoku Nihon KōkiNihon Montoku Tennō Jitsuroku, and Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku — have received nothing like the interest that has been devoted over the years to Nihon Shoki and Shoku Nihongi. Stylistically these later senmyō are very much like those in Shoku Nihongi, inscribed in Old Japanese with large and small characters.

This is the first complete English translation of all the Old Japanese edicts in the National histories, from the year 697 to the year 887. It includes an introduction to the edicts as historical and religious documents, and a brief introduction to each senmyōTranslations are presented in chronological order by the National History in which they are found. The book includes a bibliography and endnotes.

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About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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