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History Japan

The Six National Histories of Japan

by (author) Taro Sakamoto

translated by John S. Brownlee

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Jan 1991
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2011
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1991
    List Price

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Out of print

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The Six National Histories of Japan chronicle the history of Japan from its origins in the 'Age of the Gods' to A.D. 887. Compiled in the imperial court during the eighth and ninth centuries by leading scholars and officials of the day, they have exerted a profound effect on Japanese thought for well over a millenium. In his book, renowned historian Taro Sakamoto interpreted modern scholarly findings, as well as presenting his own views, thus completing the modern re-evaluation of the controversial first history. His study is the only one to survey all six histories, identifying common features and pointing out the special characteristics of each. John Brownlee's translation makes available to English readers a valuable study of the Six National Histories which also provides insights into the methods of contemporary Japanese historians.

About the authors

Taro Sakamoto's profile page

John S. Brownlee is an associate professor of Japanese history at the University of Toronto.

John S. Brownlee's profile page

Editorial Reviews

A superb translation of a meticulous exegesis of the Six National Histories, compiled as separate accounts from 681 to 901.


The Six National Histories of Japan is a useful addition to the growing body of English-language scholarship on early Japan. Sakamoto's detailed account of the contents and compilation process of the rikkokushi offers unique insights into the workings of the imperial government in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries. Brownlee's translation now makes this seminal study and reference volume available to beginning students and general readers as well as to specialists.

Monumenta Nipponica

... his book is not only a rich compendium of information about these particular texts, but a work on premodern historiography that will reward the attention of professional historians in a wide variety of fields outside Japan.

Journal of Japanese Studies

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