The New International Encyclopædia/Nihongi

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NIHONGI, nē'hṓn-gē' (Jap., Chronicles of Japan). An ancient Japanese historical book. In A.D. 712 the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), the first book written in Japan, appeared. It was followed in 720 by the Nihongi, which gives the substance of the Kojiki in Chinese form. Not only are Chinese phrases and sentences employed, but it is fashioned throughout on the model of Chinese histories. It transforms, for example, the two gods from whom sprang the Japanese race into the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ principles of the Chinese philosophy, and it puts into the mouths of mythical Japanese monarchs speeches filled with quotations from the Chinese classics. It omits a few legends, explains away the grossness of a few others, and gives variant versions of still others. It adds also 72 years of history. In Japan it has far excelled the Kojiki in popularity, but to the serious student it is of much less value, though it is still a secondary source for the history of ancient Japan.