Ritual Poetry and the Politics of Death in Early Japan
This examination of death rituals in early Japan finds in the practice of double burial a key to understanding the Taika Era (645-710 A.D.). Drawing on narratives and poems from the earliest Japanese texts--the Kojiki, the Nihonshoki, and the Man'yoshu, an anthology of poetry--it argues that double burial was the center of a manipulation of myth and ritual for specific ideological and factional purposes. "This volume has significantly raised the standard of scholarship on early Japanese and Man'yoshu studies."--Joseph Kitagawa "So convincing is the historical and religious thought displayed here, it is impossible to imagine how anyone can ever again read these documents in the old way."--Alan L. Miller, The Journal of Religion "A central resource for historians of early Japan."--David L. Barnhill, History of Religions
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An inspired and important study for anyone interested in the role that myth and associated rituals and practices played during a transitional period that culminated in the first written historical/mythological accounts produced in Japan. Yes there was a political dimension to religious practices related to leadership transitions, and yes that is reflected in certain poems related to mourning deceased leaders. It is refreshing to see a work that throws little cold water reality check on those who would maintain that the poetry at issue was simply all that has reached us of an undecipherable aesthetic sensibility lost forever.