Reading the Treatise on the People of the Wa in the Chronicle of the Kingdom of Wei: The World’s Earliest Written Text on Japan

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300 pages
  • About the Book
  • The Treatise on the People of Wa, which appears in the Chronicle of Wei, is the oldest written text that we have about that place now known as Japan. Just over 2,000 characters in length, it was to set the tone for subsequent writing on Japan for centuries. A work by Chinese who never visited Japan and based on evidence much older, it often describes events and customs now difficult to understand or properly place historically. It has produced thousands of books and articles in Japanese over the years, trying to decipher the text. Saeki Arikiyo takes a straightforward philological approach, analyzing the text character by character in comparison to countless other early texts, inscriptional materials, and other media in an effort to explain the meaning of the text in its time—and to demonstrate that the text gives a fairly accurate picture of the ancestors of the Japanese people.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Saeiki Arikyo, Author

      Saeki Arikyo is a renowned Japanese historian of China
    • Joshua A. Fogel, Translator

      Joshua A. Fogel is professor of history at York University in Toronto.
    • Joshua A. Fogel, Introducer

      Joshua A. Fogel is professor of history at York University in Toronto.
  • Supporting Resources