Jinnō Shōtōki (神皇正統記, "Chronicles of the Authentic
Lineages of the Divine Emperors") is a Japanese historical book
written by Kitabatake Chikafusa. The work sought both to clarify
the genesis and potential consequences of a contemporary crisis in
Japanese politics, and to dispel or at least ameliorate the prevailing
The text begins with these statements as prologue:
"Great Japan is the divine land. The heavenly progenitor founded it,
and the sun goddess bequeathed it to her descendants to rule
eternally. Only in our country is this true; there are no similar
examples in other countries. This is why our country is called the
3 Mito scholarship
4 See also
7 External links
Chikafusa had been a careful student of the book Nihon Shoki
(日本書紀, "The Chronicles of Japan"), and this background is
reflected in the narrative structure of his Jinnō Shōtōki. He was
also well acquainted with Watarai Ieyuki (度会家行), a prominent
Shinto priest at the Ise Shrine. Watarai's life of study had added
significantly to clarifying the theory of Ise Shintoism, and this
point-of-view is reflected in the tone of Jinnō Shōtōki.
The work as a whole was written in the years 1338–1341 at Oda
fortress in Hitachi Province, Japan (present-day
Tsukuba City, Ibaraki
Prefecture) then amended in 1343 at Seki fortress.
It is believed that the major portions of the text were probably
drafted in the autumn of 1339, around the time Emperor
and his successor
Go-Murakami was enthroned. Current scholars accepts
that the original text is missing and that all extant versions of the
text thus are manuscript versions which differ slightly from the
original. A sense of immediacy seems to inform the writing, and this
may be due to the narrative having a specific, more narrowly focused
purpose—to instruct the young Emperor
Go-Murakami (r. 1339-1368).
A curious sentence on the last page of the work, "This book is
directed to some child", has been interpreted as a dedication to
Go-Murakami or Yuki Chikatomo.
In Jinnō Shōtōki, the reign of each emperor from the mythological
period to the enthronement of
Go-Murakami is described, together with
personal observations by Chikafusa based on his own political and
ethical beliefs. The chronicles thus serve as a context for Chikafusa
to expound his views about appropriate conduct for Japanese
sovereigns, and thereby attempt to justify the legitimacy of the
The book greatly encouraged the faction supporting the Southern Court
during the Nanboku-chō period. Chikafusa's work was all the more
important because of the relative weakness of the Southern Court in
its extended military campaign against the Northern Court armies. The
book was early recognized as a compelling and subtle analysis of the
history of Japan and its emperors. From the very beginning, it was
read not only by adherents of the Southern Court, but also by
supporters of the Northern Court. However, its criticism of Ashikaga
Takauji was not well received in Northern Court circles, and that
section of the original text was omitted in manuscript copies which
circulated outside the ambit of the Southern Court.
Chikafusa argued that possessing the
Imperial Regalia of Japan
Imperial Regalia of Japan is an
absolute and indispensable condition for being recognized as a
Japanese monarch. Chikafusa contended that much about the Japanese
form of government was demonstrably ideal, and that it is both
appropriate and beneficial for the emperor and court nobles to rule
and for the samurai and others to be led by them.
After the Northern and Southern courts were reunited, a curious,
self-styled "sequel" to
Jinnō Shōtōki was circulated. The book,
written by Ozuki Harutomi (小槻晴富), was created under the
influence of the
Ashikaga shogunate for the purpose of justifying the
legitimacy of the Northern Court.
Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the Edo-period daimyō of the Mito Domain, valued
Chikafusa's work highly, a view which he expressed in the Japanese
Dai Nihonshi (大日本史): "History of Great Japan".
Mitsukuni's patronage ensured that the perspectives and ideology of
Jinnō Shōtōki were propounded at the Mito Academy (水戸学).
These pre-Meiji influences contributed to the development of the Kō
Koku Shi Kan (皇国史観), a view of history in which Japan is
regarded as a divine nation governed by emperors in a single family
line from its beginning. These concepts became even more important in
the national ideology under Japanese militarism during World War II.
Jinnō Shōtōki stands on its own literary and historical
merits. It has taken on added value over the course of the centuries.
Chikafusa's work manages to inspire; and because it does, the book
effectively mirrors the serial responses of readers and thinkers
throughout the periods in which it has been studied and pondered.
Alternately, the work's value may have accrued because a gifted,
original and mature mind "made its way onto the level of secular
historical explanation".[attribution needed]
Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo
International Research Center for Japanese Studies
Japanese Historical Text Initiative
Historiography of Japan
^ Wachutka, Michael, “A Living Past as the Nation’s
Personality”: Jinnō shōtōki, Early Shōwa Nationalism, and Das
Dritte Reich; Japan Review, Vol. 24 (2012), p. 127–150; retrieved
^ Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford
University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0804705259.
^ Brownlee, John. (1991). Political thought in Japanese historical
Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712), pp. 103–115.
^ Varley, p. 49; Brownlee, Political thought ..., pp. 106–108.
^ Varley, H. Paul, tr. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, pp. 5–6.
^ Brownlee, John. (1997). Japanese historians and the national myths,
1600–1945: the age of the gods and Emperor Jimmu, p 86; Varley, pp.
^ Brownlee, Political thought..., pp. 108–109.
^ Brownlee, Political thought ..., p. 115.
Brownlee, John S. (1997) Japanese historians and the national myths,
1600-1945: The Age of the Gods and Emperor Jimmu. Vancouver:
University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0644-3 Tokyo:
University of Tokyo Press. ISBN 4-13-027031-1
Brownlee, John S. (1991). Political Thought in Japanese Historical
Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712). Waterloo, Ontario:
Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-997-9
Varley, H. Paul, ed. (1980). [ Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359], Jinnō
Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns:
Jinnō Shōtōki of
Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley). New York:
Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231049405
See JHTI for search text apparatus.
武笠, 三 (Mukasa, San), ed. (1914). 神皇正統記(Jinnō
Shōtōki), 讀史餘論 (Tokushi yoron), 山陽史論 (Sanyō shiron)
(Internet Archive). 有朋堂書店.
大町, 芳衛 (Ōmachi, Yoshie), ed. (1925).
Jinnō Shōtōki hyōshaku) (J-texts.com).
Link to book review by John S. Brownlee in M