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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.