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Home » 9. Texts and Sources » Other Basic Texts
Naobinomitama
(Motoori Norinaga)
This is a book about the kodō (ancient Way) theory of kokugaku. It was written by Motoori Norinaga   and is in one volume. Finished in 1771, it was included in the Kojikiden, vol. 1 published in 1790. Through a comparison of the Japanese kami and Way ( or michi) with the Chinese Heavenly Dispensation and the Way (dao) of the sages (shenren), the book discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the Chinese and Japanese polities. On the title page, there is a note: "this book discusses the Way." Norinaga considered that the Way (dao) as found in Chinese works is comprised of the moral rules and systems created by the sages (shenren). This view is very close to the opinion of Ogyū Sorai. He thought that the Japanese polity, which had maintained the order of sovereign and subjects since the age of the kami (jindai), was better than the Chinese polity, which had confusion brought about by repeated revolutions. This estimation is common to Juka Shinto. What is distinct about Norinaga's assertion is that it developed from a discussion of polity to a criticism of the Chinese concepts and the idea of Heaven (Jap. Ten) itself. Norinaga considers the Chinese doctrine that Heaven's decree (tenmei) always supports virtue (zen, shenren) was an orthodoxy created to secure the moral legitimacy of the shenren, and did not match with reality. He criticizes it as an explanation produced by "counterfeit wisdom." He also criticized Heaven itself as false. He further noted that in Japan people admit the role of Magatsuhinokami and accept things as they are, not attempting to force a moral legitimacy over every given situation. In this way, things are settled peacefully in the end. Norinaga argues that this is because the Japanese Way is a natural "way of things as they are" and "counterfeit wisdom" has never been added to it since the age of the kami.

       The first version of the book was finished in 1767. There were a great number of reactions to it. In 1780, after reading the second version, the Confucian scholar from Owari, Ichikawa Tazumaro sent his critique, Maganohire, to Norinaga through Norinaga's disciple Tanaka Michimaro. Norinaga wrote the Kuzubana as a response. It is included in the end of Kojikiden, vol. 1. But, right after its publication, there was a request to publish it separately as the essence of Norinaga's Kodō theory. After Motoori's death, his disciple Takemura Shigeo from Izu succeed in fulfilling this demand in 1825. It is included in Motoori Norinaga zenshū (The Complete Works of Motoori Norinaga), vol. 9 (1968, Chikuma Shobō), and in Nihon no Shisō (Japanese Thought) vol. 15, Motoori Norinaga shū (The Motoori Norinaga Volume) (1969, Chikuma Shobō).

— Mori Mizue
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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