神話と伝説の記録【Recording Myths and Legends】

The rice that was found on the brow of the Goddess of Great Food, was planted on the Plain of High Heaven, and proved to grow very well, with huge heads of rice in the fall. They looked so beautiful that even Amaterasu admired them. Therefore, rice was especially blessed by being thought of as such a wonderful plant by the Sun Goddess, herself!


These ancient stories constantly show connections with real life, and we marvel at the historical facts that come to our attention as we read the old books, and study more and more. In the end, everything comes to some sort of meeting place in life. This really gives the legends and myths a life that they couldn’t have, unless we looked for their relationship to occurrences in our daily existence.


The ancient stories were all written in the 8th century in the Kojiki, the Nihongi, and the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki. These are the three oldest books in Japan. They aren’t all the same. Writing was a late arrival in Japan because the leaders thought it was unmanly to do such a thing. Later on, its value was realized, and those same lords began to learn to read and write themselves. Prior to this time, all letters and records had been written by servants, who probably came from China or Korea.

古代の物語はすべて、8世紀に書かれたわが国最古の書物である古事記と日本紀、および出雲の国風土記に収められています。しかし、それらがすべてまったく同じというわけではありません。 そのような行いは男らしくない、という当時のこの国の指導者たちの発想は、書くという行為の日本への導入を遅らせました。後にそのことの価値を認識するに至った彼らは、自ら読み書きを学ぶようになります。それ以前、手紙や記録は中国や朝鮮半島から渡ってきたと思われる使用人たちによって書かれていました。

The true advent of writing was with the official arrival of Buddhism in the 8th century. Before that, there was a famous man who wrote in Chinese. His name was Shotoku Taishi (574-621). He was a brilliant man, who thought of his country first, and did his best to help it advance. His “Rules for Conduct,” sometimes called a constitution, was written in the language of China, and included many Chinese thoughts, such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Unfortunately, his book of rules was lost when his temple, Horyuji, was burned.

文字を書くという行為が真の意味で日本に出現するのは、仏教が伝来した8世紀になってからのことです。それより以前、中国語でものを書く聖徳太子(574-621)の名は広く知れ渡っていました。たいへん聡明であった太子は、何よりも日本のことを考えその発展に尽くしました。 太子が中国語で書いた「行動の規範(十七条憲法)」には、儒教や道教、および仏教といった中国の思想がふんだんに取り入れられていました。 残念なことに、これは彼の寺院であった法隆寺が火災に見舞われた際に焼失してしまいます。

His portrait appeared on the old Japanese money. I thought it was a shame to exchange his picture for that of another man, who was not nearly as important as Shotoku Taishi. I can’t really question things that are done by the government, but that was not right. Every child knows Shotoku Taishi, and few people know the face on the money now. It was a bad decision, to my way of thinking.

前の紙幣には太子の肖像画が描かれていましたが、聖徳太子ほど重要ではない別の人物に取って代わられてしまいたいへん残念です。 政府のすることにそこまで疑問を呈することはできません。しかし、彼らは間違っているのです。聖徳太子はすべての子供が知っていますが、現在紙幣に描かれている人物を知っている子はごくわずかです。私には政府の決断が間違ったものであるように思えます。

The first book, the Kojiki, which I mention so much, was dictated by the emperor in the late 7th century, to a man named Are, who had a photographic memory. Then the old emperor died, and a new one was enthroned. The new emperor ordered the Fudokis, and around that time, Are dictated everything that had been told to him, to the writer of the Kojiki. There were a few changes, but they were not done by Are. They were written into the book for political purposes. Isn’t that the way things are done in every history? It seems a shame, but it is so.


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