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OCOJ: Texts



This page gives an introduction of the extant texts in Japanese from the Old Japanese period, as well linking to digital versions of the texts. The online digital text version of the OCOJ contains

  1. Poetic texts;
  2. The poems from the Man'yōshū usually identified as Eastern Old Japanese (EOJ);
  3. The Norito and Senmyō.
Each set can be searched by simple text string searches. We give both the original script and a phonemic transcription of the texts, except for the Norito where we presently only give the phonemic transcription. This online version of the corpus is regularly updated to reflect corrections and other changes.

Development of the OCOJ is very much work in progress. Please report any errors or mistakes you notice to: vsarpj@orinst.ox.ac.uk

This html version of the texts is derived by applying a display script (xslt) to the xml files the corpus consists of. The grammatical information encoded in the corpus is not displayed or accessible here. The main display conventions employed in this version of the corpus are summarized here. The texts can be searched by simple text string searches. If you use this online version of the corpus for research, please cite it as:
Frellesvig, Bjarke; Horn, Stephen Wright; Russell, Kerri L; and Sells, Peter.
The Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese.
Please include the URL and use the retrieval date as the date of publication.


Poetic texts

Kojiki kayō (古事記歌謡; 712)(112 poems; 2527 words)
More information
The Kojiki (古事記 ‘Record of ancient matters’) is a history, compiled in 712. The preface is written in Chinese and the main text is written in hentai kanbun, but it also contains 112 phonographically written Japanese songs, as well as proper names and vocabulary.

Nihon shoki kayō (日本書紀歌謡; 720)(133 poems; 2444 words)
More information
The Nihon shoki (日本書紀 ‘Chronicles of Japan’) is a history, compiled in 720. It is written in Chinese, but contains 128 songs, as well as proper names and vocabulary, written phonographically in Japanese.

Fudoki kayō (風土記歌謡; 730s)(20 poems; 271 words)
More information
Fudoki (風土記 ‘Records of wind and earth’) are topographies compiled on the order given in 713 by the empress Genmei to the governors off the provinces to provide information about local products and produce, the fertility of the land, and folklore. Five fudoki have survived: Hitachi fudoki (常陸国風土記 (the north-eastern part of present-day Ibaraki prefecture), compiled between 714 and 718); Harima fudoki (播磨国風土記 (in Hyōgo prefecture), compiled around 715), Bungo fudoki, Hizen fudoki (豊後国風土記 (in Oita prefecture), (肥前国風土記 (in Saga and Nagasaki prefectures), compiled in the 730s, Izumo fudoki (出雲国風土記 (in Shimane prefecture), completed 733), which is the only fudoki to have survived in its entirety and which is written in hentai kanbun, whereas the rest are written in Chinese. They contain 20 phonographically written poems, place names, and local vocabulary.

Bussokuseki-ka (仏足石歌; after 753)(21 poems; 337 words)
More information
The Bussukoseki-ka (仏足石歌 ‘Footprints of the Buddha poems’) is a series of 21 poems inscribed on a stone at the Yakusi-dera in Nara. The provenance is unknown, as is the date of inscription, but it is thought to date after 753. The poems are written entirely phonographically and are valuable because of their authenticity as a primary source.

Man'yōshū (万葉集; after 759)(4685 poems; 83706 words)
More information
The Man'yōshū (万葉集 ‘Collection of myriad leaves’) is the major source of the OJ language. It is a poetry anthology of more than 4,500 poems in 20 volumes. It was compiled in late Nara or early Heian. The latest poem is dated 759 and the earliest poem is usually said to date back to the middle of the fifth century. The poems are in Japanese, written both phonographically and logographically. Most poems present a mixture of phonographic and logographic writing, but the proportions differ enormously. The poems in the anthology are drawn from several sources, both older and contemporary. It is thus not a single text, but a collection of texts from different times, and consequently there is no overall orthographic consistency. There is, however, a substantial, identifiable portion representing early eighth-century OJ and another representing mid eighth-century OJ. Eastern OJ dialect is also represented in volumes 14 (azuma uta ‘eastern songs’) and 20 (sakimori uta ‘border-guard songs’).

List of books
 Book 1    (90 poems; 2150 words)
Most poems in this chapter are attributed to emperors and empresses, from the reign of Yūryaku to the Nara Period.
 Book 2    (169 poems; 5179 words)
Poems on love and affection (sōmon) and elegies (banka), written by various authors, and arranged in chronological order.
 Book 3    (258 poems; 4958 words)
Poems by courtiers from the 600s to mid-700s.
 Book 4    (311 poems; 4891 words)
Many love poems by Ōtomo no Tabito and his son Ōtomo no Yakamochi.
 Book 5    (123 poems; 2811 words)
Perhaps the most important book for the study of the cOJ language, as most of this book is written phonographically. The poems are classified as "miscellaneous" poems, mostly written by Yamanoue no Okura. Poems in this book were composed between 724-734 CE.
 Book 6    (161 poems; 3420 words)
Various authors. Many poems focus on love, travel, and poems for public occasions. These poems were composed between 723-744 CE.
 Book 7    (355 poems; 5095 words)
Love poems from Kakinomoto no Hitomaro's collection written by various authors, believed to be early 8th century.
 Book 8    (250 poems; 3885 words)
Love and miscellaneous poems from the 7th-8th centuries. Various authors. Organized by topic.
 Book 9    (151 poems; 3360 words)
Poems by various authors on the categories of miscellaneous, love, and elegies.
 Book 10    (555 poems; 7809 words)
Many anonymous authors with a focus on nature poems. Late 7th-8th centuries.
 Book 11    (513 poems; 7278 words)
Mostly anonymous authors with a focus on love poems. Late 7th-8th centuries.
 Book 12    (405 poems; 5681 words)
Mostly anonymous authors with a focus on love poems. Late 7th-8th centuries.
 Book 13    (135 poems; 4845 words)
Poems by anonymous authors with a wide range of themes. Probably not later than the end of the 7th century.
 Book 14    (245 poems; 3517 words)
Poems written by unknown authors, on a variety of themes. Some poems show distinct EOJ vocabulary and morphology. It is not clear when these poems were written.
 Book 15    (219 poems; 3399 words)
Mostly poems written by emissaries to Silla. The language here is late cOJ. This book does not have a reliable transmission history, thus data found only in this book are often considered to be unreliable.
 Book 16    (105 poems; 2145 words)
Poems written by various authors for specific occasions, some humor poems. Dated probably no earlier than early 8th century.
 Book 17    (144 poems; 3460 words)
Most poems were composed by Yakamochi between 730-748 CE. These poems have various themes.
 Book 18    (114 poems; 3460 words)
Poems on various themes, composed or collected by Yakamochi around 748-750 CE. The language here is late cOJ.
 Book 19    (158 poems; 3368 words)
Most poems composed by Yakamochi between 750-753 CE. These poems were written on various themes.
 Book 20    (224 poems; 3720 words)
This book is a collection of border guard poems written from 753-759 CE. Some are written in EOJ, and the remaining poems are said to be cOJ.
Shoku nihongi kayō (続日本紀歌謡; 797)(8 poems; 134 words)
More information
Shoku nihongi, or "The Continued Annals of Japan" and Shoku nihongi kayō, "Songs of the Continued Annals of Japan" consists of chronicles of Japan from 697 to 791 CE. The text of the Shoku nihongi is written in kanbun and the poems are written in phonetic script. The main compiler of the Shoku nihongi was Sugano no Mamichi, and it was completed around 797 CE.
Jōgū shōtoku hōō teisetsu (上宮聖徳法王帝説; unknown (early Heian?)(4 poems; 60 words)
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"A biography of Prince Shōtoku, King of Law", is a biography of Prince Shōtoku written in the Heian period, but probably based on 7th century sources. The text is written in kanbun but there are four poems, probably from the Asuka period, and a number of proper nouns written with phonetic spellings.

Eastern Old Japanese

(240 poems; 3431 words)
 Azuma-uta (東歌)    (174 poems; 2110 words)
 Sakimori-uta (防人歌)     (66 poems; 1321 words)


Norito and Senmyō

Engishiki Norito (延喜式祝詞)(approx. 6,500 words)
More information
Norito (祝詞 ‘liturgies’) comprise ritual prayers and blessings. 27 Norito are recorded in volume 8 of the Engishiki (延喜式 ‘Procedures of the Engi Era’, completed 927) and are, despite the late date of compilation, thought to retain their OJ form and to reflect fairly accurately the OJ language and in particular some quite early features of the language. The Norito are written in senmyō-gaki.

List of Norito
 Norito 1. Grain-petitioning Festival
 Norito 2. Kasuga Festival
 Norito 3. Festival of Opo-Imi in Pirose
 Norito 4. Festival of the Wind Deities of Tatuta
 Norito 5. Pirano Festival
 Norito 6. Kudo and Puru-aki
 Norito 7. Monthly Festival of the Sixth Month
 Norito 8. Blessing of the Great Palace
 Norito 9. Festival of the Gates
 Norito 10. Great Exorcism of the Last Day of the Sixth Month
 Norito 12. Fire-pacifying Festival
 Norito 13. Miti-apye no Maturi
 Norito 14. Festival of the First Fruits Banquet
 Norito 15. Mi-tama-shidume no ipapido no Maturi
 Norito 16. Grand Shrine of Ise: Grain-petitioning in the Second Month; Regular Festivals of the Sixth and Twelfth Months
 Norito 17. Grand Shrine of Ise: Toyo-uke-no-miya (same festival)
 Norito 18. Grand Shrine of Ise: Divine Garments Festival of the Fourth Month
 Norito 19. Grand Shrine of Ise: Regular Festival of the Sixth Month
 Norito 20. Grand Shrine of Ise: Festival of the Divine First Fruits Banquet of the Ninth Month
 Norito 21. Grand Shrine of Ise: Same festival at Toyo-uke-no-miya
 Norito 22. Grand Shrine of Ise: Same, Divine First Fruits Banquet
 Norito 23. Grand Shrine of Ise: When the High Priestess assumes Her Office
 Norito 24. Grand Shrine of Ise: Norito on moving the Shrine of the Great Deity (Use also for the Toyo-uke-no-miya)
 Norito 25. To drive away a vengeful deity
 Norito 26. Presenting offerings on dispatching an envoy to China
 Norito 27. Divine Congratulatory Words of the Kuni-no-Miyatukwo of Idumo
Shoku nihongi Senmyō (続日本紀宣命; 797)(approx. 14,000 words)
More information
Senmyō (宣命) are imperial edicts. 62 edicts are recorded in the Shoku nihongi (続日本紀 797; a history covering 697-791). Senmyō are written in senmyō-gaki i.e. mainly logographically, but with grammatical items and some vocabulary noted phonographically.

List of Senmyō
 Senmyō 1. Monmu 1 8th Month (697), Emperor Monmu
 Senmyō 2. Keiun 4 4th Month (707), Emperor Monmu
 Senmyō 3. Keiun 4 7th Month (707), Empress Genmei
 Senmyō 4. Wadō 1 1st Month (708), Empress Genmei
 Senmyō 5. Jinki 1 2nd Month (724), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 6. Tenpyō 1 8th Month (729), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 7. Tenpyō 1 8th Month (729), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 8. Tenpyō 1 8th Month (729), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 9. Tenpyō 15 5th Month (743), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 10. Tenpyō 15 5th Month (743), Retired Empress Genshō
 Senmyō 11. Tenpyō 15 5th Month (743), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 12. Tenpyō Shōhō 1 4th Month (749), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 13. Tenpyō Shōhō 1 4th Month (749), Emperor Shōmu
 Senmyō 14. Tenpyō Shōhō 1 7th Month, Emperor Shōmu / Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 15. Tenpyō Shōhō 1 12th Month (750), Retired Emperor Tenmu
 Senmyō 16. Tenpyō Hōji 1 7th Month (757), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 17. Tenpyō Hōji 1 7th Month (757), Retired Empress Kōmei
 Senmyō 18. Tenpyō Hōji 1 7th Month (757), Retired Empress Kōmei
 Senmyō 19. Tenpyō Hōji 1 7th Month (757), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 20. Tenpyō Hōji 1 7th Month (757), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 21. Tenpyō Hōji 1 8th Month (757), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 22. Tenpyō Hōji 1 8th Month (757), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 23. Tenpyō Hōji 2 8th Month (758), Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 24. Tenpyō Hōji 2 8th Month (758), Emperor Junnin
 Senmyō 25. Tenpyō Hōji 3 6th Month (759), Emperor Junnin
 Senmyō 26. Tenpyō Hōji 4 1st Month (760), Retired Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 27. Tenpyō Hōji 6 6th Month (762), Retired Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 28. Tenpyō Hōji 8 9th Month (764), Retired Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 29. Tenpyō Hōji 8 10th Month (764), Retired Empress Kōken
 Senmyō 30. Tenpyō Hōji 8 10th Month (764), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 31. Tenpyō Hōji 8 10th Month (764), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 32. Tenpyō Jingo 1 1st Month (765), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 33. Tenpyō Jingo 1 3rd Month (765), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 34. Tenpyō Jingo 1 8th Month (765), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 35. Tenpyō Jingo 1 8th Month (765), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 36. Tenpyō Jingo 1 Leap 10th Month (765), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 37. Tenpyō Jingo 1 11th Month (766), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 38. Tenpyō Jingo 1 11th Month (766), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 39. Tenpyō Jingo 1 11th Month (766), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 40. Tenpyō Jingo 2 1st Month (766), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 41. Tenpyō Jingo 2 10th Month (766), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 42. Jingo Keiun 1 8th Month (767), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 43. Jingo Keiun 3 5th Month (769), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 44. Jingo Keiun 3 9th Month (769), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 45. Jingo Keiun 3 10th Month (769), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 46. Jingo Keiun 3 11th Month (769), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 47. Hōki 1 8th Month (770), Empress Shōtoku
 Senmyō 48. Hōki 1 10th Month (770), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 49. Hōki 1 11th Month (770), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 50. Hōki 2 1st Month (771), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 51. Hōki 2 2nd Month (771), Emperor Kōnin
  Senmyō 52. Hōki 2 2nd Month (771), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 53. Hōki 3 3rd Month (772), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 54. Hōki 3 5th Month (772), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 55. Hōki 4 1st Month (773), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 56. Hōki 7 4th Month (776), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 57. Hōki 8 4th Month (777), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 58. Ten'ō 1 2nd Month (781), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 59. Ten'ō 1 4th Month (781), Emperor Kōnin
 Senmyō 60. Ten'ō 1 4th Month (781), Emperor Kanmu
 Senmyō 61. Ten'ō 1 4th Month (781), Emperor Kanmu
 Senmyō 62. Enryaku 8 9th Month (789), Emperor Kanmu