Koshi Koden (古史古伝)

Koshi koden are historical documents with content that is significantly different from the kiki ("Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihon Shoki" (Chronicles of Japan)), which are considered as the major historical documents in the field of ancient Japanese history. There are many types. They are also called 'chokodai monjo' (super-ancient documents) or 'gishi' (pseudo-histories).


It includes many documents that cannot be used as historical material because academic consideration as historical material is not possible because the manuscript is privately owned and not open to the public. Super-ancient civilization is mentioned in them. They are written in the ancient Japanese characters, which are said to have existed in Japan before the introduction of kanji (Chinese characters). Words originating from the modern times are used. Due to the above reasons, the possibility that they were handed down from ancient times is quite small and it has very low historical value in regard to the study of ancient history. However, there are many different types of koshi koden, and the degree to which the above points are true widely differs depending on the document.

Recently, studies on the ideology of those who prepared the manuscripts as as an expression of acceptance of the concept of a Japanese state/race in modern times.

Origin of the name

Prior to World War II, they were called 'jindaishi (history of mythological age)' or 'taikoshi (history of ancient times)' and, after the war (until the 1970s) Kiyohiho AGO called them 'chokodai monjo (super-ancient documents).'
At around the same time, Sugen TAKEDA (Yu TAKEUCHI) called them 'gisho (pseudo-document),' 'gishi (pseudo-history)' or 'giten (pseudo- book).'
However, 'gishi' gradually became the word to be used for such documents sinceit would be confusing to use 'gisho' and 'giten' because they had already been established as words to indicate other matters.

The term 'koshi koden' was proposed by Kiyohiko AGO in his book "Kojiki izen no sho (documents before Kojiki)" (published by Tairiku Shobo, 1972) and, at this stage reference was made to 'koten sisho (four classics),' 'koden sansho (three legends)' and 'koshi sansho (three ancient historical documents).'
In his book "Nihon Chokodaihishi Siryo (Reference on Super-Ancient History of Japan)" (published in 1976 by Shin-Jinbutsuoraisha Co., Ltd.), it was expanded to 'koten sisho (four classics),' 'koden shisho (four legends),' 'koshi shisho (four ancient historical documents)' and 'iroku sisho (four miscellaneous records).'

Initially, Kiyohiko AGO preferred the expression 'chokodai monjo' but did not use 'koshi koden.'
He only used 'kosho shisho' or 'koshi shisho' as terms for classificationル
he origin of the word From the 1980s onward, Yoshihiko SAJI combined them and said 'koshi koden,

The following classification is based on the above-mentioned "Nihon Chokodaihishi Siryo," but later, as copies of other documents were found, Kiyohiko AGO himself repeatedly revised the classification as it grew. Some additions were added to cover such literature.

Koten shisho

"Kojiki," "Nihonshoki" and "Sendai Kujihongi" (ancient Japanese history) are koten sansho, and koten sansho added with "Kogo-shui" (history of the Inbe clan) is koten shisho.
The classification of 'koten shisho' (or koten sansho) is a classification for the sake of convenience in order to compare heretical chokodai monjo with legitimate Shinto scriptures
Koten shisho' are not the so-called super-ancient documents (koshi koden) but instead four representative and basic literature were picked from the usual 'Shinto scriptures,' and therefore it is just another term for 'Shinto scriptures.'
(There have been various theories with respect to the scope of Shinto scriptures, but it usually includes "Manyoshu (literally, collection of 10,000 leaves)," "Fudoki (description of regional climate, culture, etc.)," "Shinsen Shojiroku (literally, newly compiled register of clan names and titles of nobility)" and so on.)

Some explanation is required regarding the "Sendai Kujihongi." The"Sendai Kujihongi" has generally been judged as a gisho (psuedo-document) since the Edo period and Kiyohiko AGO was aware of this from the beginning. However, he did not fully deny its value but appreciated it, since it had been deemed as the most important 'Shinto scripture' after to the Kiki (although notcomparable to the Kiki). Other than this original Kujiki (ten-volume set), there are alternative versions ("Sendai Kujihongi Taiseikyo" (72-volume set), "Shirakawa Hon Kujiki" (30-volume set) and "Taiseikyo Sasakiden" (31-volume set)). Often it is asserted that they represent a kind of koshi koden. Although chokodai monjo (= koshi koden) is a kind of 'gisho,' not all 'gisho' should be taken as koshi koden. Kiyohiko AGO introduced alternative books of "Kujiki" in his literary works, but he did not consider them to be koshi koden.

Similarly, there is a view that adds three books--"Tensho (also called 'Tenshoki')" (a chronological history of Japan), "Nihonkoku sofudoki" and "Zen-zen Taiheiki (a military story)"--as heretical ancient history books. Among them, "Tensho" isn't a koshi koden, and the other two contain nothing that would make them chokodai monjo. These are similar books in the periphery of koten shisho and, although we may call them heretical ancient historic book similar to koshi koden, it is unreasonable to include them in chokodai monjo or koshi koden.

(Also, there is a view in which "Shinsen Shojiroku" is interpreted as a chokodai shisho (super-ancient historic book). However, the interpretation may be considered super-ancient history but the text itself is not super-ancient history.)

Koden shisho

Hotsumatsutae (Ago uses kana instead of kanji characters)
"Katakamuna literature" (so-called 'Katakamuna')
With the exception of 'Katakamuna,' they are called 'Koden Sansho.'
This 'koden shisho' is a classification based not strictly in accordance with their contents, but on their appearance in which whole sentences are written in the ancient Japanese characters.

Also, there is a document called "Futomani."
Three documents--"Futomani," "Hotsumatsutae" and "Mikasafumi"--are a series of documents belonging to the same system having the same view of the world, and therefore we can call them 'hotsuma-kei monjo (hotsuma system documents).'
Believers refer to them collectively as 'Woshide literature.'
Because this "Futomani" was easily confused with the common noun "futomani," Kiyohiko AGO called it "Kanwoshide motoura tsutae."

Literature in kanji characters, "Kamuna hibiki" and "Ma no subeshi," which relate to Katakamuna, can be classified in one group 'Katakamuna system literature, but katakamuna system documents including katakamuna are not considered as 'history books.'
Chokodai monjo = koshi kode' is a broad concept that includes documents other than history books.

Koshi shisho

"Kuki monjo (Kuki documents)" (so-called 'Kuki monjo'.
"Amatsu tatara no hifumi" is part of the Kuki monjo group.)

"Takeuchi monjo (Takeuchi documents)" (so-called 'Takeuchi bunken (Takeuchi literature).'
Also called 'Amatsukyo monjo (Amatsukyo documents)' or 'Isohara monjo (Isohara documents).')

"Miyashita monjo (Miyashita documents)" (so-called 'Fujiya monjo (Fujiya documents).'
They are also called 'Miyashita monjo (Miyashita documents)' or 'Fuji Miyashita komonjo (Fuji Miyashita old documents)'.)

"Mononobe monjo (Mononobe documents)" (so-called 'Mononobe monjo')
They are also called the 'koshi sansho (three ancient history documents)' excluding "Mononobe hishi (Mononobe secret history)." Koshi shisho' includes ancient Japanese characters, but its text is written only in kanji characters or kana mixed with kanji characters. Also, it is not classified according to its contents. The above-mentioned four titles (Kuki Shinden Seishi, Takeuchi Taikoshi, Fuji Takamagahara Chosi and Mononobe Hishi) were named independently by Kiyohiko AGO.

Iroku shisho
"Tsugaru Sotosangun Shi"
(It is also called 'Wadake Bunsho' (Wada family documents).

"Tajima Kojiki"
(Also, called 'Tajimakojiki.'
Originally, Tajima Kojiki was the name of an important book among the Tajima Kokushi monjo (documents of the provincial governor of Tajima).)

"Oshihinotsutae Tensonki"
"Shinto Genten"
They are called 'Iroku sansho' excluding "Shinto Genten."

Among them, "Oshihinotsutae Tensonki" and "Shinto Genten" are not komonjo (old documents) or kobunken (old literature), but the former is a document written through automatism and the latter is a book of inspired by a visit to the spiritual world.
As seen above, Kiyohiko AGO's concept of 'koshi koden (chokodai bunsho)' is a broad one that includes not only 'books handed down from ancient times,' but also 'books of modern times that brings information from super-ancient times through inspiration such as automatism.'

Toa shisho

"Kittan Koden" (also called "Shinin Joden")
"Kandan Koki"
"Kozan Hokan"
"Hokan Henbunrui"
When AGO contributed to 'Atarashikisekaie (literally, to new world)' (published by Nippon CI Association), he added an item 'Toa Shisho.'

"Chikusho Kinen" and "Bokutenshiden" were included but "Kozan Hokan" and "Hokan Henbunrui" were not included the initial conceptual stage. Since it is unreasonable to consider "Chikusho Kinen" and "Bokutenshiden" as koshi koden, his later works removed these two books and added "Kozan Hokan" and "Hokan Henbunrui." Although "Kozan Hokan" and "Hokan Henbunrui" were not known to the general public, but were known to specialists and some oppose considering them as chokodaishi bunsho (super-ancient history documents). Some mention "Sankaikyo" and "Fujin Engi" as being related to East Asia, but "Sankaikyo"has been a famous classic for a long time and "Fujin Engi" is a novel. It is unreasonable to consider these two books are koshi koden even if the content is interesting. "Nanensho" would be a chokodai monjo comparable to "Kittan Koden" and "Kandan Koki."
We can collectively refer to "Kandan Koki", together with similar books such as "Kien Shiwa" and "Danki Koshi", as being of the 'Dankun system literature group.'

Koshi koden in Europe and the U.S.A.

"Oera Linda Book" (also called "Oera-Linda Chronicle")
"OAHSPE" (pronounced in various ways, such as oafuspe and oah-supu)
"The Book of Mormon"
"Akasha Chronicle"
OAHSPE, "The Book of Mormon" and "Akasha Chronicle" are not books handed down since ancient times but documents the revelation of God, inspiration or automatism but there is no problem in defining them as koshi koden as described above. Also, there are "Necronomicon" and "THOTH." Although the two works are fictional, there are some who believe they exist and in such case they become a kind of chokodai monjo.

"Aso Heiritsu Jinja Monjo" (documents of Aso Heiritsu-jinja Shrine) (also called "Takamagahara Doran no Hiroku" (Secret Record of the Disturbance in Takamagahara),
Book by Naozumi OCHIAI (deciphered) is called "Bisha Shinji Kai.")
Writing by Naozumi OCHIAI (deciphered sentence) is called "Bisha Shinji Kai.")

"Jodai Tennoki"
Kasuga Bunsho'
"Bisha Shinjiroku" is written in ancient Japanese characters and, according to the definition, it could be included in 'Koden shisho,' but Kiyohiko AGO didn't mention it. Other than "Bisha Shinjiroku", the "Kai Kosekiko"is rich in regional flavor. Additionally, Minoru HARADA mentioned three books: "Masumi Tantosho," "Imiji Yuraiki" and "Kankansen Datsuroku."

Kasuga Bunsho' is a document related to kotodama (spirit of language) so it is not a history book, but as with the above-mentioned Katakamuna, koshi koden may contain books other than history books.

Other than those, it is said that there are 'Otomo Bunsho,' 'Abe Bunsho,' 'Inbe Bunsho,' 'Kiyohara Bunsho' and 'Kume Bunsho.'
It is very possible that these five documents do not actually exist since there are only rumors and details are unknown.

[Original Japanese]