A History of the Japanese People From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era by Frank Brinkley

A History of the Japanese People From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era

By Frank Brinkley

  • Publication Date: 2016-08-28
  • Genre: Asia

Book Synopsis

IN the earliest eras of historic Japan there existed a hereditary corporation of raconteurs (Katari-be) who, from generation to generation, performed the function of reciting the exploits of the sovereigns and the deeds of heroes. They accompanied themselves on musical instruments, and naturally, as time went by, each set of raconteurs embellished the language of their predecessors, adding supernatural elements, and introducing details which belonged to the realm of romance rather than to that of ordinary history. These Katari-be would seem to have been the sole repository of their country's annals until the sixth century of the Christian era. Their repertories of recitation included records of the great families as well as of the sovereigns, and it is easy to conceive that the favour and patronage of these high personages were earned by ornamenting the traditions of their households and exalting their pedigrees. But when the art of writing was introduced towards the close of the fourth century, or at the beginning of the fifth, and it was seen that in China, then the centre of learning and civilization, the art had been applied to the compilation of a national history as well as of other volumes possessing great ethical value, the Japanese conceived the ambition of similarly utilizing their new attainment. For reasons which will be understood by and by, the application of the ideographic script to the language of Japan was a task of immense difficulty, and long years must have passed before the attainment of any degree of proficiency.

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