In Kojiki and Nihon-shoki Emperor Sujin is called with profound reverence “Hatsukunishirasu-sumera-mikoto” or the first governor of the country. There he is credited with the establishment of rituals for the worship of Ōmononushi-no-kami, the unification of provinces, and the gendered taxation system with wild game as male tax and cloth as female tax. But there is an obvious difference in the way of describing his career between those ancient texts. It can be attributed to social factors which subtly affected the writing of Nihon-shoki.
It is generally believed that Roland Barthes invented a new way of reading liberated from any authorial intention. In medieval commentaries on classical works, however, it was in a sense already practiced. For example Kakai-shō, the commentary on Genji-monogatari, has its own peculiar word-for-word way of interpreting the classical work with little regard to the author's intention.
Empress Jingū is a legendary person who, according to Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, led an army to invade the Korean peninsula. Interestingly enough there is a remarkable difference in the way of narrating the episode between those ancient texts and some medieval accounts. It is often attributed to the Mongol invasions of Japan in the mid-Kamakura Period, but the jingoistic ideology of the “divine nation” had been already formed before the invasions partly due to a strong anxiety over the probable eruption of civil war. Thus the discursive change of the legend was caused not by some actual events but by an epistemological shift in national outlook.
Recently some critics regard Kojiki-den not as a philological commentary on Kojiki but as another myth reworked by Motoori-Norinaga. Indeed Kojiki-den is more than an ordinary commentary; instead of merely making annotations on the text, the author built his own mythical discourse on Western astronomy which was popular in the eighteenth century. In this sense it can be defined as an intellectual product of early modern mythology.
Kiyoshi Kanzaki (1904-1979) is a literary critic known for his pioneering study of Meiji literature in the early Showa Period. His critical style was very unorthodox because he collected a great amount of data and carefully conducted field research before interpreting the texts. He also applied this empirical method to the analysis of the High Treason Incident or the construction of modern women's history which leads to his inquiry about the relation between prostitution and the U.S. military bases in postwar Japan. His transdisciplinary interest in such a variety of topics provides an important clue to reviewing and challenging our literary assumptions.
In Ōgai Mori's Maihime the narrator Toyotarō Ōta's account is at odds with a reasonable reconstruction of the story. If we readers believe what he says as many critics do, his mother's death and dismissal from his official post, which simultaneously but unrelatedly happen, set him free to be engaged in a love affair with Elise. A more logical reading, however, will reveal the narrator's unreliability and lead us to quite differently interpret the story as follows; as Toyotarō can't accept the fact that his mother's death was precisely caused by dismissal, he represses it into the unconscious which nevertheless controls his discourse like a ghost possessing him.
In 1769 Takebe-Ayatari reworked Ise-monogatari into a “manabon” edition called Kyūhon-ise-monogatari which was exclusively written in kanji characters. In so doing he had the intention to criticize the entertaining aspect of the earlier “manabon” edition Mana-ise-monogatari (1644) and raise the genre to the contemporary standards of Japanese literature. Indeed in this edition and its appendix Ise-monogatari-kōi Takebe displayed a highly academic attitude in elaborately making hermeneutic distinctions between the original text and its variants.