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Home » 7. Concepts and Doctrines » Basic Terms
Shirasu
The meaning of "to possess, to rule and to govern." Shirasu is a compound of the verb shiru, to govern, with the honorific verbal suffix su. There are numerous examples of its use as shirashimesu and shiroshimesu, meaning "to rule, to govern." There are many examples in the Kojiki and Nihongi of shirasu being presented with the characters and, which both mean "to govern." These are used to mean "to rule" in reference to the wide expanse of sea (unabara), the Central Country of the Reed Plains (ashiharanonakatsukuni, an ancient appellation for Japan), this phenomenal world (arawagoto), other countries, and so forth. Together with ushihaku, these terms express the concept of rule and governance. However, there are no examples of ushihaku in reference to the emperor. Thus, Motoori Norinaga and Suzuki Shigetani indicate that there is a difference of meaning between ushihaku and shirasu. In the Meiji era, Inoue Kowashi (1843—1895) interpreted it as the Imperial House Law transmitted from the dynastic founder Jinmu, and thus as being pertinent to royal governance. Since then shirasu has been widely understood to be an ancient term referring to such rule, especially as the concept of kokutai, based as it was on imperial rule, became fixed. See ushihaku

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