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Motoori Norinaga

(1730-1801). Classical scholar of the Edo period (1600-1868) who was largely responsible for bringing the Kokugagu (National Learning) movement to its culmination. Born at Matsusaka in Ise Province (now Mie Prefecture). His works total more than 90 titles and are characterized by a rigorous philological approach, a recognition of the emotional nature of man, and a profound sense of reverence for Shinto mythology. His aim was to discern the identity of Japanese culture through an intensive study of the ancient classics, especially the Kojiki (712, Record of Ancient Matters). In his early years he trained as a doctor, then later studied waka (classical Japanese poetry) along with his investigations of Shinto mythology. Norinaga's writings had a considerable impact on later ages. His interpretation of Shinto became part of an ideology that eventually brought about the Meiji Restoration of 1868; the same ideology was later used by militarists to promote nationalism before World War II. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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