Jogu Shotoku Hooteisetsu (Biography of Shotoku Taishi) (上宮聖徳法王帝説)

Jogu Shotoku Hooteisetsu is said to be the oldest existing biography of what was called Prince Shotoku, who was a regent of Emperor Suiko. Although the author is unknown, the Buddhist achievements of Prince Shotoku were mainly recorded. According to classification by Saburo IENAGA, the book consists of five parts.

The manuscript was called 'the only book' in the world and a treasure of Horyu-ji Temple until the late Edo period; Now it is a national treasure owned by Chion-in Temple in Kyoto. The year of completion is unknown, and it does not seem to have been circulated widely. It is certain that the book was completed before the 12th century because the last page of the manuscript has the name of high priest (Sokei, who lived during the latter half of the 12th century, one of the five priests in the Horyu-ji Temple), who seems to have owned it. The government-manufactured literature such as "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) were criticized hand in hand with the advancement of the modern historical science, and this manuscript which seems to have been based on the old historical materials before "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" drew people's attention as a highly reliable classic.

The first section
The genealogy of Umayato no toyotomimi shotoku hoo was described. It is distinguished by including the names of wives and daughters, which is different from the subsequent genealogies consisting of only father and sons.

The second section
The achievements of Umayato no toyotomimi shotoku hoo. It has a detailed explanation of Kani junikai (twelve ranks of the noblemen at the ancient Japanese Imperial court) as well as the Buddhist achievements.

The third section
It contains inscriptions of the Imperial properties in the Horyu-ji Temple. Especially the actual inscription of Tenjukoku mandara shucho (embroidery) exists only partially, so its record is valuable.

The fourth section
Fragmental historical records were itemized: for example, Seventeen-Article Constitution; the year of SOGA no Iruka incident; official introduction of Buddhism by Seong-wang of Paekche on 'October 12, 538' (old lunar calendar); Prince Yamashiro no oe incident, and so on.

The fifth section
It contains the each regnal period from Emperor Kinmei to Empress Suiko, the years of demise, and the locations of Emperors' tombs. Here, the year of Emperor Kinmei's enthronement which was figured out by counting backwards from the periods of his reign is different from the year mentioned in "Nihonshoki" (it states that the year of enthronement was 538), which stirred controversy among the scholars.

By counting backwards, the year of Emperor Kinmei's enthronement was 531, which corresponds to the 25th year of Emperor Keitai's rule in "Nihonshoki." It is not consistent with the year of 539, in which "Nihonshoki" tells that he ascended to the throne after both the Emperor Ankan and Senka. There is an opinion that both the Ankan and Senka Dynasties existed at the same time and the country was in a domestic conflict just like the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), and there is also an opinion that it is just a matter of the calendar.

[Original Japanese]