The Kojiki


Interviewer: “So I’ve been told that you read something called the Kojiki. What is that?”

Informant: “Uh, it’s the first collection of Japanese myths, collected by …the…uh…one of the first government systems of Japan.”

Interviewer: “And how much of it did you read?”

Informant: “A decent portion. There’s kinda a lot of myths. Um…you don’t need to read it. They’re told somewhat chronologically um…but there’s dispute whether some myths come from different parts of Japan that were readapted to serve um…the main – the center of Japan like the Yamato region better. Um… so some of the myths are disputed in how they actually fit in the story but…um… I’ve read a decent number of them. There’s a couple of- there’s a lot of the Kojiki that just tells about the emperors in order and a lot of it get repetitive. They go somewhere, they conquer some new people and onto the next emperor.”

Interviewer: “Are the stories in the Kojiki realistic or are they more…fantastical?”

Informant: “Um…they get more and more realistic…as you go on. Um… it seems the idea is it starts with the most powerful beings and as they die off, more and more of the stories are about more humanesque characters if not humans themselves. SO it goes from being about like the gods Izanagi, Izanami, and their children to eventually being about the human emperors of Japan. It has fantastical elements but they seem to be more allegories of potentially real history. There’s a group of people described as the tsuchigomu- tsuchigomo, which are supposedly earth spiders which don’t actually exist as far as I’m aware of. I don’t think there’s spider people living in the earth but…it’s possible that it’s an allegory for an actual clan, like a group- or like a tribe that used to live in Japan. They probably lived in one of the more mountainous regions that was uh subjugated by one of the emperors.”

Interviewer: “When did you read the Kojiki?”

Informant: “I read it for…uh…a general ed course here describing-or talking about Japanese folklore and how it relates to older and then more contemporary Japanese works of fiction. So…um…uh older novels like the Goddess Chronicle um…and newer books, older movies uh…Tales of Moonlight and Rain is an older movie that draws a lot on Mythology and up til recently, movies like Paprika and Pampoco and um…much of Ghibli films.”


The informant talks about the Kojiki, a Japanese text that contains many folk stories and some history of Japan. It contains stories that sound like your typical myths and more realistic stories as well. Some of the more fictional sounding stories likely have roots in real events. The folklore of Japan has also found its way into a lot of Japan’s media. This includes movies such as Spirited Away. I’m very interested in reading the Kojiki as I find Japanese folklore to be a very interesting topic.