Jindai moji

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Jindai moji or Kamiyo moji (Japanese: 神代文字 “scripts of the age of the gods”) are characters that was said to be scripts used in ancient Japan. Debates since Edo period and Japanese academic society regard Jindai moji as forgeries.[1] Although ancient character researchers insisted the existence as Uetsufumi or Hotsumatae found, it is denied in historiography because of no existence of earthenware with it. People who believe in the existence use the word Jindai moji in the meaning of "ancient characters". Since around mid-Edo period some people have been saying ancient characters were found in remains, Kofuns and mountains such as Chikushi characters, Hokkaido characters. Hundreds kinds of Jindai moji were said to be found.

Hokkaido characters,Investigated by Enomoto Takeaki and John Milne[citation needed]


Jindai moji was firstly addressed in the end of Kamakura period by Urabe no Kanekata (卜部兼方) in Shaku Nihongi mentioning his father, Urabe no Kanefumi, assumed ancient people could not have performed oracle bone style fortunetelling with turtles (亀卜, Kameura; turtle fortunetelling) as described in Nihon Shoki without having characters. Though there was no Jindai moji characters introduced in Muromachi period, some types of Jindai moji appeared in Edo period and each of them named after the source article or the place the characters discovered. Debate over the existence erupted in Edo period. Japanese academic society denies the existence.[1] In 1930, there was the case that the religious group called Amatsukyō was charged with Lese-majesty by special higher police. Amatsukyō used documents that was partly written in Jindai moji (introduc Koshikoden into as the Scripture) and some famous scholars or educators in linguistics had to give testimony in court to prove how the documents written in Jindai moji were forgeries. Since positive opinions on Jindai moji sound as occultism to Japanese people.[citation needed] Jindai moji is completely denied in Japanese academism.[2][3]


In Edo period, the existence of Jindai moji was disputed. The existence was supported by scholars such as Tsurumine Shigenobu (鶴峯戊申). Hirata Atsutane changed his opinion from negative to positive. Some scholars denied the existence of Jindai moji such as Kaibara Ekken, Dazai Shundai (太宰春台), Kamo no Mabuchi, Motoori Norinaga and Tō Teikan (藤貞幹). The most famous article that denied the existence of Jindai moji was Jindaiji ben (神代字弁) attached to Kana no motosue (仮字本末) by Ban Nobutomo (伴信友) which empirically denied the existence and concluded they were forgeries.

Summary of the general negative reasons were shown below.

  1. Ancient document
    Kogo Shūi written in 808 clearly denoted there had been no characters before Kanji arrived to Japan. It was about 500 years before Urabe no Kanekata mentioned Jindai moji. Also, there was no document mentioning unique characters before that.[1]
  2. Number of syllables and writing method of Kana mismatched with Old Japanese
    Shinkichi Hashimoto studied documents in Nara period written in Man'yōgana and found Jōdai Tokushu Kanazukai that proved there were 88 syllables. However, the syllables in most of Jindai mojis matched Gojūon and Iroha which were formed in Heian period. Also, Jindai moji is not following order of Old Japanese writing method of Kana.[1]
  3. No existence before Heian period[1]
  4. There must have been no need to use Man'yōgana and to invent Hiragana and Katakana if they had unique characters before.[1]

Jindai moji are rejected by the Japanese academic community based on the general lack of evidence.[1] Recent archaeology has failed to produce any evidence to indicate ancient usage of jindai moji.[citation needed]


While scholars generally have negative opinions, Some scholars such as Inbe Masamichi (忌部正通)、Arai HakusekiHirata Atsutane 、Takamasa Omiya(大国隆正) affirmed the existence of Jindai moji which Urabe no Kanekata (卜部兼方) first mentioned in Shaku-Nihongi in Kamakura era.
Summary of the general positive reasons were shown below.

  1. Ancient document
    Shaku Nihongi says "There are six or seven documents which was written in “characters of Hi Province"(肥人の字、Ahiru characters) in Ministry of the Treasury"
  2. Discovery in recent years
    Some sort of characters were found also in Ryukyu,[4] or Ezo.[5]
  3. Number of syllables and writing method of Kana matches with Old Japanese [3]
    The theory that the vowel of old Japanese was the five same as the present age has appeared at Showa Era.[3]Man'yōgana use Chinese characters, so unnecessary using different ways of writing was carried out in Jōdai Tokushu Kanazukai because Japanese introduced letters of the different language (as when Greek people introduced a Phoenician alphabet into Greek).

The usage of Jindai Moji[edit]

The letter which is written on the left side is Jindai Moji Published by the 荒神山神社(Kōjin-yama-jinja) 2009.[citation needed]

Representative uses are as follows.

Famous Jindai Moji[edit]

Notable references[edit]

  • 『上古文字論批判』 新村 出 (1898) Shinmura Izuru Criticism on ancient character theories
  • 『國語学概論』 橋本進吉 [1] (1925) Shinkichi Hashimoto Introduction of national language study
  • 『藝林』(藝林會発行)第4巻(1958) ("Geirin" vol.4 Geirinkan)
  • 『日本古代文字考』 落合直澄(1888) Naozumi Ochiai Thought on Japanese ancient characters
  • 『神代文字研究原典』吾郷清彦(1975)Kiyohiko Ago The original of Study of Japanese ancient characters


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Tsukishima, Hiroshi (1964). Kokugo-gaku (国語学?, "Japanese linguistics") (in Japanese). Japan: Tokyo University Publishing. pp. 47–48. 
  2. ^ Kawaguchi(川口), Kōfū(高風) (1994). Debate over Jindai moji with Tainin-Risshi [諦忍律師の神代文字論をめぐる論争]. JP: Aichi Gakuin University Journal volume41-3. p. 214. 
  3. ^ a b c Naozumi Ochiai Thought on Japanese ancient characters [日本古代文字考] Komakisha 1888; republished by Yahata Shoten 1982
  4. ^ 神谷由道(1886)『東京人類学会報告』第9号 Yoshimichi Kamiya(1886)Anthropological Science(Japanese Series) No.9
  5. ^ 坪井正五郎(1887)『東京人類学会雑誌』第18号 Shogoro Tsuboi(1887) Anthropological Science(Japanese Series)No.18

External links[edit]