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The old layer of Japanese culture, the Light and Shade of “Kojiki”

Chang-Soo Lee 1

1경희대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine the historical acceptance of "Kojiki", Japan's oldest existing literature, and its contrasting position as the ancient layer of Japanese culture. Norinaga-Motoori made a significant contribution by recognizing that "Kojiki" belongs to the ancient layer of Japanese culture. Furthermore, his concepts of "Kara-gokoro" and "Yamato-kokoro" were used to critique systems like Confucianism and Buddhism, but in a broader sense, they were an attempt to explain the distinction between foreign ideas and the Japanese spirit. Norinaga's ideas later evolved into an ideological movement known as the Restoration of Atsutane, which lost its academic rigor. During the turbulent period at the end of the Edo Shogunate, "Kojiki" served both as a "sacred text" promoting nationalism and transnationalism. By comparing the reception of "Kojiki" by two post-war Japanese intellectuals, Masao-Maruyama and Hideo-Kobayashi, we observe that Norinaga's nationalistic ideology continued to be fostered through Maruyama's critical perspective. On the other hand, Kobayashi continued Norinaga's empirical academic approach and emphasized the importance of a "real sense" in literary works. Although Maruyama and Kobayashi never directly conversed, Maruyama criticized Kobayashi's notion of "real sense" in his book, while Kobayashi indirectly criticized Maruyama and other "progressive cultural figures" through the media. Despite their differing views on the ancient layer, they both recognized that "Kojiki" held Japan's esteemed cultural heritage and that its elements were carefully explored and cherished as a tradition that persists to this day. They also agreed that Japanese culture is not only inherited through historical facts but is also nurtured and passed down through the spirit of its people, an unbroken reaffirmation

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