Ancient Japanese Culture Temple

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Old Japanese is usually defined as the language of the Nara period (710–794), when the capital was Heijō-kyō (present-day Nara). This is the period of the earliest connected texts in Japanese, the 112 songs included in the Kojiki (712). The other major literary sources of the period are the 128 songs included in the Nihon Shoki (720) and the Man'yōshū (c. 759), a compilation of over 4,500 poems. Shorter samples are 25 poems in the Fudoki (720) and the 21 poems of the Bussokuseki-kahi (c. 752). The latter has the virtue of being an original inscription, whereas for all the other texts the oldest surviving manuscripts are the results of centuries of copying, with the attendant risk of scribal errors. Prose texts are more limited, but are thought to reflect the syntax of Old Japanese more accurately than verse. The most important are the 27 Norito (liturgies) recorded in the Engishiki (compiled in 927) and the 62 Senmyō (imperial edicts) recorded in the Shoku Nihongi (797).