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  4. KANAZAWA Hideyuki

KANAZAWA Hideyuki Associate Professor

Linguistics and Literature / Japanology
Specialized Field
Ancient Japanese literature
Research Subject
Study of ancient Japanese literature including Kojiki and Man’yo-shu.
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Lab. Letters: Messages from the Laboratory

Outline the Japanese who embraced the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) as a Japanese classic

The Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), major works of ancient Japanese literature, are written in Chinese characters. The two classics differ significantly: The former was written with some attempts to delineate Japanese words in Sino-Japanese kanji characters in a time before hiragana (a set of Japanese phonetic characters) or katakana (a different set of Japanese phonetic characters), while the latter was written in kanbun (annotated Classical Chinese), a lingua franca of the time. Norinaga Motoori, a scholar of Japanese literature, greatly valued the Kojiki based on his belief that our ancestors’ experiences and minds could only be depicted by the language of ourselves – Japanese, and he wrote the Kojikiden (Commentaries on the Kojiki), which greatly affected subsequent study of Japanese literature. What’s the nature of the Japanese, whose identity has been forged by embracing the Kojiki as a Japanese classic since then? To carry out research on Japanese classics is an attempt to answer such a question.

  • The worldview inspired by the Kojiki depends on the age in which this classic was interpreted. Photo: Supplementary illustration of the beginning of the universe for the Kojikiden published in early-modern times (Sandaiko by Nakatsune Hattori): The mythical universe consisting of the heavens, the Earth and Yomi (the world of the dead) was reinterpreted according to natural sciences imported from the West, and those three elements were transformed into Sun, Earth and Moon.

Cherish objectivity and a scientific perspective: My lectures provide an introduction to the world of research.

I specialized in ecology before I started researching the Kojiki. While expanding my perspective from creatures and nature, then to humans and nature and on to humans and cultures, I finally came to specialize in my current research: the Kojiki. I believe that in whatever discipline you might choose, research requires objectivity and a scientific perspective. Hokkaido University, whose students are highly motivated, is an ideal environment for researchers and educators. In my lectures, I’m pleased to introduce the latest issues in my research discipline, as well as to share opportunities for you to experience the profound world of research.

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