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  • Cited by 5
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  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: March 2008

Introduction

Summary

Japanese historical accounts written during the last twelve hundred years have been consistently narrowed and influenced by three preoccupations: first, by an age old absorption in an ‘unbroken’ line of sovereigns descended from the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu), leading historians to concern themselves largely with imperial history and to overlook changes in other areas; second, by a continuing concern with Japan's cultural uniqueness, causing many intellectuals, especially those from the eighteenth century to the close of World War II, to be intensely interested in purely Japanese ways and to miss the significance of Chinese and Korean influences; and third, by the modern tendency of scholars to specialize in studies of economic productivity, political control, and social integration and thus to avoid holistic investigations of interaction between secular and religious thought and action.

But in recent years historians have extended their studies to questions that lie well beyond the boundaries set by these enduring preoccupations. This Introduction will attempt to outline the nature of this shift and to point out how research in new areas – and from new points of view – has broadened and deepened out understanding of Japan's ancient age.

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The Cambridge History of Japan
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055062
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521223522
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