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New Life in the Oldest Empire Charles Filkins Sweet

New Life in the Oldest Empire

Charles Filkins Sweet

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192 pages
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This volume is from 1919 and deals with the whole field of missionary effort in Japan. The author, who was a missionary residing in Tokyo, sketches in vivid style the history of missions in Japan, outlines the problems and difficulties, past andMoreThis volume is from 1919 and deals with the whole field of missionary effort in Japan. The author, who was a missionary residing in Tokyo, sketches in vivid style the history of missions in Japan, outlines the problems and difficulties, past and present (up to 1919). There is little which is statistical in the book, much which is spiritual and vital.From Chapter I:The Japanese think that no one can comprehendJapanese history or the Japanese mind unless he, asa basis, perceives the inseparability of the Land andthe Imperial House. They think that their very myth-ology is different in nature from the mythology ofall other lands in that it ascribes every importantphase to the Imperial Ancestors and to the Father-land.It is likely that there is no such fundamental dif-ference in these mythological concepts as they sup-pose, but it may be wise to begin by accepting themprovisionally, as our view-point.The special thing upon which they insist is that theLand and the Goddess of the Sun were both bornfrom the same parents, Izanagi and Izanami, the twoself -generating, creative deities. An integral elementof the same basic concept lies in their belief in thedistinction in rank (not in being or nature) betweenthe sovereign and the subject, — a distinction whichthey hold to be necessary and inalterable.The earliest of their dated writings, the Kojiki(Book of Ancient Things) which appeared in 712A. D., contains a recital of their national traditionsfrom the origin of the world up to the year 628, pass-ing through all conceivable shadings between puremyth and actual history. The Kojiki is quite artlessin style and affords, by its childlike candour as well asby its unconsciousness of criticism and its freedomfrom shame, a revelation of the Japanese mind at aprimitive or very early stage - which is an undesignedproof of its own honesty. The conceptions which issuehere reach to all parts of Japanese literature and arestill full of life and vigour.The Kojiki is the foundation of the religion andhistory of Japan. It is also a treasury of myths andlegends and of primitive emotions and ideas uponwhich literary artists have drawn so freely that allu-sions to it in poetry, essays, and history, as wellas in artistic representations, abound wherever welook.