Himiko and Japan's Elusive Chiefdom of Yamatai: Archaeology, History, and Mythology

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University of Hawaii Press, 2007 - History - 401 pages
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In this, the most comprehensive treatment in English to date, a senior scholar of early Japan turns to three sources - historical, archaeological and mythological - to provide a multifaceted study of ancient Japanese society. Analyzing a tremendous amount of recent archaeological material and synthesizing it with a thorough examination of the textual sources, Professor Kidder locates Yamatai in the Yamato heartland, in the southeastern part of the Nara basin. He describes the formation in the Yayoi period of pan-regional alliances that created the reserves of manpower required to build massive mounded tombs. It is this decisive period, at the end of the Yayoi and the beginning of the Kofun, that he identifies as Himiko's era. He maintains, moreover, that Himiko played a part in the emergence of Yamato as an identifiable political entity. In exploring the cultural and political conditions of this period and identifying the location of Yamatai as Himiko's area of activity, Kidder considers the role of magic in early Japanese society to better understand why an individual with her qualifications reached such a prominent position. He enhances Himiko's story with insights drawn from mythology, turning to a body of commentary for explanations buried deep in mythological stories and the earliest descriptions.
Himiko and Japan's Elusive Chiefdom of Yamatai is required reading for Japan historians as well as scholars with an interest in literature and art history during this formative stage in Japan's past.
  

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Contents

Ancient Texts and Sources
1
The Wei Zhi and the Wa People
8
The Initial Problem and Three Centuries of Compounding It
21
Travel by Land and Water to Neighboring Countries
36
Han Commanderies Korean Kingdoms and Wei China
53
Japan in Transition from Yayoi to Kofun
59
The IzumoYamato Contention
114
Himiko Shamans Divination and Other Magic
127
The Endless Search for Yamatai
229
Makimuku and the Location of Yamatai
239
List of Abbreviations
283
Notes
285
Wei Zhi Text
339
Select Glossary
343
Bibliography
359
Index
391

Mirrors and Himikos Allotment
160
The Japanese View of the Wei Zhi Years
186

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About the author (2007)

J. Edward Kidder, Jr., is emeritus professor of Japanese at International Christian University, Tokyo.

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