Guide Fudoki

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This entry notes that the following were commanded to be reported: 1 Write the names of the districts and villages in the various provinces in the capital area and the seven circuits with auspicious graphs; 2 record the various kinds of minerals, animals, and vegetation found in each district; 3 record the areas that are good for crop production as well as those that are not; 4 record the origins of the names of mountains, rivers, plains, and moors; 5 record old stories and strange events as remembered by the elderly in the area, and report these as a historical account.

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Concern number 1, the first book of procedures of Popular Affairs in Engishiki notes, "The names of all districts and villages in the various provinces will be written with two characters, and these shall be auspicious names. Numbers 2 through 5 have the characteristic of an official report document based upon the actual state of affairs in the various provinces.

There is a possibility that numbers 4 and 5 contain oral traditions specific to certain locations.


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Next we will look at the creation of each of these five fudoki. Of these five, the one that appears to have originated closest in time to is Harima fudoki.

Harima Fudoki

In other words, it lacks the general section and the following report on the district of Akashi. There are two fragments from the record of Akashi District quoted in Shaku nihongi Book Eight, entry under "fast bird," and Book Ten, entry under "Nihotsuhime" , so we are safe in assuming that these sections existed in the original manuscript.

Hitachi fudoki starts with the words, "Governor of Hitachi, Report: a work of old things heard and related by the elderly. Other than the general section and the Namekata District, the records of the other districts contain comments like "The rest has been abbreviated" or "The beginning has been dropped," showing that the manuscript has been transmitted as in an abridged form, so the date of origin or the name of the compiler is not recorded anywhere. From internal evidence, many of the geographical units from the district level are recorded as sato , as well as the line "Province of Mutsu, District of Iwaki later it is Iwaki Province ," makes us believe the manuscript originated before Miyake Omi Matatari, a person from the district of Aika.

The compilation also records the post and surname but not the given name of everyone in the district governments from the post of secretary down, so it is fair to say that the provincial office abridged into one document various records compiled at the district gun level.

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Regarding , it had been twenty years since the first edict in , the Izumo fudoki is worthy of note because it contains anecdotes about military bases not seen in the sections 1 through 5 , as well as this record contains some characteristics that differ from both Harima and Hitachi fudoki. This is also true of Bungo fudoki and Hizen fudoki. The manuscripts of both fudoki have records pertaining to the general record and the individual districts, but the contents of these individual district records are incomplete, so there is the problem of whether these two are abbreviated versions.


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Also these two fudoki have an overall unified form in both style and content, so there is the theory that these two were compiled by order of the Dazaifu in after Fujiwara Umakai arrived as a special envoy for the Western Circuit. That is the reason these are called the Western Circuit Fudoki , and one thing that cannot be ignored when considering when these two fudoki originated is that there is a strong resemblance to parts of Nihon shoki in both written style and content.

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Regarding the relation of these two fudoki and the resemblance with parts of Nihon shoki , it is clear that there are differences in the style of recording and characters, where there are parallels type one , and where no parallels exist type two , but there are still many unresolved problems regarding whether Nihon shoki existed prior to or after these two texts. When we do this, one thing that must be kept in mind is the relation with the mythology in Kojiki and Nihon shoki.

Frankly speaking compared with the myths in Kojiki and Nihon shoki , which have been systematized into a central mythology, the legends in fudoki are regional myths strongly tied to the local traditions. But while we call these regional myths that does not mean they are devoid of any influence from the central culture of Japan.

Mark Funke mentions that they were most likely to be used to add the Engi Shiki , which was written in In the Heian Period, they fell out of national interest to more popular and aesthetic literature.

Catalog Record: Izumo no Kuni fudoki ronkō | HathiTrust Digital Library

Like contemporary texts, it was mostly written in Chinese. However, similar to the notable linguistic hybrid seen in the Kojiki , it contained interwoven Japanese when citing word-for-word or presenting poetry. There is some discrepancy in the number and titles of remaining fudoki , in that Piggott lists all the above except the Bungo fudoki as being extant.

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However, an impressive work by Michiko Y. Aoki has all the above fudoki including the Bungo text translated into English. However, it is missing the Higo text. The mysterious "number of others," therefore, puts to rest this confusion over the discrepancies.