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Nara Period entrance 710 A.D.

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This period begins (710 A.D.) when the capital of Japan was moved to Nara and ends in 794 A.D. when the seat of Japanese government was relocated to Nagaoka.The Mikido Tenchi (662-671 A.D.) had established schools for the aritstocracy that included the study of history, Chinese classics, law and arithmetic. Buddhism added to the art and literature of the land with its demands for stately temples and pagodas. The Kojiki - Records of Ancient Matters (712 A.D.) was the first book constructed in these times. It depicts the early beginnings of the Japanese race including many myths and legends from the Shinto religion and comes to a close in its historical explanations at the year 628 A.D. The work itself is not significant from a literary perspective and not considered to be extrememly well-written, but the story of its origins are interesting. The story tells of the author, Yasumaro who was a learned man in Chinese. He took the information from the lips of Hiyeda no Are, a man "who could repeat with his mouth whatever was placed before his eyes, and record in his heart whatever struck his ears." It was an awkward time for Yasumaro who had to choose how to pen the information. He could write these words in pure Chinese - which would not translate well for the Japanese, or he could use the Chinese characters for the sounds associated with them regardless of their meaning. This resulted in an awkward Japanese text that also contained Chinese characters.

Also during this time there were reciters for the Mikado, known as the Kataribe. It was their duty to recite "ancient words" especially before certain events of the State. Their renditions were likely in the form of prose.

Idzumo Fudoki (733 A.D.) is another example of literature from this time period where the goal was to record local traditions and mineral, animal, vegetable, soil conditions. This was the forerunner of the popular topographical work, Meisho.

Shoku-nihongi was the only other work of prose from this period and is a continuation of the Chinese book Nihongi. The style resembles the Norito.

 

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