The Kojiki

An Account of Ancient Matters

O no Yasumaro. Translated by Gustav Heldt

Columbia University Press

The<i> Kojiki</i>

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Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231163897

312 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $29.00£25.00

Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231163880

312 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£75.00

Pub Date: September 2014

ISBN: 9780231538121

312 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $28.99£25.00

The Kojiki

An Account of Ancient Matters

O no Yasumaro. Translated by Gustav Heldt

Columbia University Press

Japan's oldest surviving narrative, the eighth-century Kojiki, chronicles the mythical origins of its islands and their ruling dynasty through a diverse array of genealogies, tales, and songs that have helped to shape the modern nation's views of its ancient past. Gustav Heldt's engaging new translation of this revered classic aims to make the Kojiki accessible to contemporary readers while staying true to the distinctively dramatic and evocative appeal of the original's language. It conveys the rhythms that structure the Kojiki's animated style of storytelling and translates the names of its many people and places to clarify their significance within the narrative. An introduction, glossaries, maps, and bibliographies offer a wealth of additional information about Japan's earliest extant record of its history, literature, and religion.

An accomplished and approachable translation of a crucially important work that has been desperately in need of such a new rendition.

David Lurie, Columbia University

A translation of the Kojiki that is accurate and faithful to the original and at the same time exciting to read. A key element of the Kojiki mythology is the power of naming, and Heldt's decision to translate the names of its various gods and royal figures has brought the narrative alive in a way that it has never been before in English.

Torquil Duthie, University of California, Los Angeles

Heldt's new, complete, and contemporary translation brings vibrancy and clarity to this often politicized work of ancient Japan. The poetry is rendered exquisitely, the narratives unfold with clarity; the translation itself is at once impeccable and imaginative. A master work that will generate discussions far into the future.

James E. Ketelaar, University of Chicago

Heldt's new translation of the Kojiki offers readers a powerful and beautifully written rendition of this critically important Japanese classic. General readers will find it an accessible and fascinating look into Japanese folklore. Specialists will find Heldt's interpretation of Kojiki's magic words, rich in wordplay and metaphor, deeply insightful and provocative.

Joan Piggott, University of Southern California

The Kojiki has a lot to interest those with a strong passion for Japanese literature… an essential read if you have more than a superficial interest in the culture.

Tony's Reading List

For the reader willing to surrender his or her empirical insistencies - to luxuriate in the beauty of language - the Kojiki is time well spent.

The Japan Times

The first time a translator has gone so far as to translate the names of the spirits, rulers, and places, an addition that makes the text infinitely more meaningful.


This rich and accessible translation will be welcomed by specialists and students alike, and will no doubt invite renewed interest in the Kojiki as literature in the English reading audience.

Ann Wehmeyer, H-Asia

Gustav Heldt's translation of the Kojiki provides the English-speaking reader with the easiest access to Japan's oldest extant book.

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
Book One
The First Generations of Spirits
Izanagi and Izanami
Amaterasu and Susa-no-o
Ho-deri and Hoho-demi
Book Two
Sovereign Jinmu
Sovereign Suisei
Sovereign Annei
Sovereign Itoku
Sovereign Kosho
Sovereign Koan
Sovereign Korei
Sovereign Kogen
Sovereign Kaika
Sovereign Sujin
Sovereign Suinin
Sovereign Keiko
Sovereign Seimu
Sovereign Chuai
Sovereign Ojin
Book Three
Sovereign Nintoku
Sovereign Richu
Sovereign Hanzei
Sovereign Ingyo
Sovereign Anko
Sovereign Yuryaku
Sovereign Seinei
Sovereign Kenzo
Sovereign Ninken
Sovereign Buretsu
Sovereign Keitai
Sovereign Ankan
Sovereign Senka
Sovereign Kinmei
Sovereign Bidatsu
Sovereign Yomei
Sovereign Sushun
Sovereign Suiko
Glossary of General Terms
Glossary of Personal Names
Glossary of Place Names
Map 1. Ancient Lands of Yamato Japan
Map 2. Central Yamato

About the Author

O no Yasumaro (d. 723) was a nobleman of the Japanese court whose O clan ruled over an area bearing the same name near the eighth-century capital of Nara.

Gustav Heldt is an associate professor of Japanese literature at the University of Virginia and the author of The Pursuit of Harmony: Poetry and Power in Early Heian Japan.