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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Japanese Historians and the National Myths, 1600-1945

The Age of the Gods and Emperor Jinmu

In Japanese Historians and the National Myths, John Brownlee examines how Japanese historians between 1600 and 1945 interpreted the ancient myths of their origins. Ancient tales tell of Japan’s creation in the Age of the Gods, and of Jinmu, a direct descendant of the Sun Goddess and first emperor of the imperial line. These founding myths went unchallenged until Confucian scholars in the Tokugawa period initiated a reassessment of the ancient history of Japan. These myths lay at the core of Japanese identity and provided legitimacy for the imperial state. Focusing on the theme of conflict and accommodation between scholars on one side and government and society on the other, Brownlee follows the historians’ reactions to pressure and trends and their eventual understanding of history as a science in the service of the Japanese nation.

266 pages


Table of Contents

Part I: The Tokugawa Period

1 Hayashi Razan (1583-1657) and Hayashi Gaho (1618-80): Founders of Modern Historical Scholarship

2 Dai Nihon Shi [History of Great Japan]

3 Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725) and Yamagata Banto (1748-1821): Pure Rationalism

4 Date Chihiro (1802-77): Taisei Santen Ko [Three Stages in the History of Japan]

5 The Resistance of National Scholars

Part II: The Modern Century

6 European Influences on Meiji Historical Writing

7 The Beginnings of Academic History

8 The Kume Kunitake Incident, 1890-2

9 The Development of Academic History

10 The Southern and Northern Courts Controversy, 1911

11 Eminent Historians in the 1930s: The Betrayal of Scientific History

12 The Commission of Inquiry into Historical Sites Related to Emperor Jinmu, 1940

13 Tsuda Sokichi (1873-1961): An Innocent on the Loose

Epilogue: Historical Scholarship, Education, and Politics in Postwar Japan

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