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Motoori Norinaga

Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801). Leading scholar of the New Learning (Kokugaku) movement in the Shinto revival (Fukko Shintō). Motoori was a pupil of Kamo no Mabuchi, who had insisted that the Manyōshū poetry of the 8th cent. (and earlier) had been free of foreign influence and thus expressed the genuine Japanese spirit without adulteration. Motoori pushed this quest for the genuine Japanese spirit into other areas, especially in rescuing the Kojiki from relative neglect in comparison with the Nihongi (Nihonshoki). The adoration of the Sun (Amaterasu) indicates that Japan gave birth to the Sun (Nippon means ‘origin of sun’), from which it follows that Japan and its people are ‘closer to God’ than any other people. Motoori took other classic Japanese works and set them in the foundation of the true and pure spirit which should inform life—e.g. Shinkokinshū (The New Collection of Poetry Ancient and Modern, compiled c.1205) and Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji. He took the latter to be portraying the sensitivity of a good life—what he called mono no aware, which becomes the key virtue in the Shinto revival.

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