Motoori Norinaga

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Motoori Norinaga

Motoori Norinaga


Born 1730, in Matsuzaka, Ise Province; died there, Sept. 29, 1801. Japanese philologist and linguist of the National Learning movement.

Opposing the Japanese sinologists, Motoori rejected Confucianism and Buddhism and applied himself to the study of ancient Japanese literature, which had become incomprehensible because of its archaic language and writing system. His commentary on the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters; 712) was a panegyric to the age-old traditions and culture of Japan. Motoori idealized the governmental structure of ancient Japan and called for a revival of Shintoism and the cult of the emperor.

Motoori wrote in the old Japanese written language, avoiding Sinicisms as much as possible. However, for his prose translation of the Collection of Old and New Songs (tenth century), he used the emergent national language, providing a model for its western variant.

As an ideologist, Motoori helped to lay the foundations for bourgeois-monarchist nationalism, while undermining the foundations of the shogunate.

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The Japanese tradition of unmediated experience of natural phenomena, as expressed in the early poetry of the Manyoshu and later critically presented by Motoori Norinaga, establishes the enduring presence of the natural world.
Vitalism in the Japanese case means that the ancient Japanese worshiped the power of kami, or sacred energy, perhaps best defined by the eighteenth century Shinto revivalist, Motoori Norinaga, as any phenomena that produces the emotions of fear and awe with no distinction between good and evil.
Drawing on the same historical consciousness, Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), a leading figure of the National Learning school, came to reject the need to study Confucian Classics, for these were written in a different era and were thus irrelevant to the problems of his age.
Motoori Norinaga [Chinese Text Omitted] (1730-1801), a student of Chinese phonology, noted in his Kanji san'on ko [Chinese Text Omitted] (published in 1785) that "with regard to contemporary pronunciation, among the greater and lesser differences found in the various provinces [in China], the pronunciations of Nanjing and Harngjou are considered standard" (p.