Shinsen Shōjiroku

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shinsen Shōjiroku (新撰姓氏録, "New Selection and Record of Hereditary Titles and Family Names") is an imperially commissioned Japanese genealogical record. Thirty volumes in length, it was compiled under the order of Emperor Saga by his brother, the Imperial Prince Manta (万多親王, 788–830). Also by Fujiwara no Otsugu and Fujiwara no Sonohito et al. It was initially completed in 814, but underwent a revision to be recompleted in 815.


The book itself has been lost, but its table of contents and fragments remain. According to the preface, the record contains genealogical records for 1182 families living in the Heian-kyo capital and the Kinai region (encompassing Izumi, Kawachi, Setsu, Yamashiro, Yamato), which means "close to capital"; but also warns even this record comprises less than half of all the surnames in circulation there.

It categorizes these by their family roots:

  • Imperial ancestry 皇別: 335 families
  • Divine ancestry 神別: 404 families; of which 246 were of direct heavenly descent claiming to be born of gods who came down to Japan with Ninigi-no-Mikoto, 128 were of heavenly cadet descent, and 30 of 地祇 earthly divine as from gods who already existed in Japan before Ninigi descended.
  • Foreign 諸蕃: 326 families; of which, 163 were from Kan (漢), 104 from Baekje, 41 from Goguryeo, 9 from Silla, and 9 from Gaya. Where "Kan" is written as the Han Dynasty in on’yomi, but in truth were families who could not identify with the other four Korean kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla and Gaya) also known as "Kara (漢)" in kun’yomi.[1] For instance, at the end of the 8th century, a warrior of Korean descent named Sakanoue no Karitamaro (坂上 田村麻呂) created the Yamato no Aya clan (東漢氏) (not to be confused with Eastern Han) and in an attempt to give credence he claimed his ancestor Achi no omi (阿知使主) to come from "Kan", which is why his clan is recorded in the book under "Kan".[2]
    • For further context, in Old Japanese, Ancient Koreans (and things deriving from Korea) were called "Kara (から)", which under the same kun’yomi used three separate characters "", "" and "". The etymology is thought to have been derived from the "Gaya Confederacy" which was known as "Kara (加羅)" in Ancient Japan which later on adopted the aforementioned characters (韓/漢/唐) to represent Korea (and later on China or in general, lands outside of Japan).
    • In Old Korean, Ancient Koreans used two characters of Han (using eumcha/음차), "韓" or "漢" to describe themselves since both words shared the same pronunciation "한 (Han)" meaning "big" or "great" in native Korean[3] which is thought to have derived from the now obsolete adjective "~하다 (Hada)" of the same meaning.
      • Though now obsolete, such is evident in "Jinhan (辰韓)", "Byeonhan (弁韓)", "Mahan (馬韓)", "Hanguk (韓國)", "Hallasan (漢拏山)", "Han River (漢江)", or in "Hanseong (漢城)" an old name for Seoul. On top of place names, Korean used "漢 (Han)" to describe something that was big or have matured as evident in "황소 (Hwangso)" meaning bull evolving from "漢쇼 (Han-sho)" which meant "matured cow". Some place names also carry the meaning as seen in "Hallasan (Reaching big sky Mountain)", "Han River (Big River)" and "Hanseong (Big city/Capital)".
    • All mentioned characters are used separately from Chinese Han (state), Han (Western Zhou state), Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and the Han Chinese which also use the same characters in respective languages.

The above categories were further subcategorized by their present region of registration.

A total of 117 are listed as uncategorized.

Scholars have noted that at least one family, the Yoshida family, is listed under "imperial ancestry" but was likely of foreign origin.[4]

The three categories in Japanese are called Kōbetsu (Imperial Ancestry), shimbetsu (Divine Ancestry) and shiban (Foreign)[5]


  1. ^ 『古代国家と天皇』創元社、1957年
  2. ^ 『古代国家と天皇』創元社、1957年
  3. ^ "한". Namu (in Korean).
  4. ^ Murayama 1983 : 49.
  5. ^ "Shinsen Shōjiroku • . A History . . of Japan . 日本歴史". . A History . . of Japan . 日本歴史. Retrieved 2021-12-07.


  • Kubota, Jun (2007). Iwanami Nihon Koten Bungaku Jiten [Iwanami dictionary of Japanese classical literature] (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 978-4-00-080310-6.
  • Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten: Kan'yakuban [A Comprehensive Dictionary of Classical Japanese Literature: Concise Edition]. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten. 1986. ISBN 4-00-080067-1.
  • Murayama, Izuru 1983 (23rd ed. 2005) Ōtomo no Tabito, Yamanoue no Okura: Yūshū to Kunō. Tokyo : Shintensha.

External links[edit]