1st Edition

Cultural Astronomy of the Japanese Archipelago
Exploring the Japanese Skyscape

ISBN 9780367407988
Published November 20, 2020 by Routledge
158 Pages 106 B/W Illustrations

USD $62.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Goto introduces the diverse and multilayered skylore and cultural astron- omy of the peoples of the Japanese Archipelago.

Going as far back as the Jomon, Yayoi, and Kofun periods, this book examines the significance of constellations in the daily life of farmers, fishermen, sailors, priests, and the ruling classes throughout Japan’s ancient and medieval history. As well as covering the systems of the dominant Japanese people, he also explores the astronomy of the Ainu people of Hokkaido, and of the people of the Ryukyu Islands. Along the way he discusses the importance of astronomy in official rituals, mythol- ogy, and Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies.

This book provides a unique overview of cultural astronomy in Japan and is a valuable resource for researchers as well as anyone who is inter- ested in Japanese culture and history.

Table of Contents

1. Japanese People and Stars: Cultural Astronomy and Star Lore of the Japanese  2. Stars in Mythology and Classical Literature  3. Star Lore of the Hokkaido Ainu  4. Ethnoastronomy in the Ryukyu Islands  5. Archaeoastronomy of Prehistoric Japan: A Historical Survey  6. Fallen Star Legends in Japanese Folk Beliefs  7. Cosmology Seen in House and Burial Orientation of the Hokkaido Ainu, Northern Japan  8. The Sun and the Kingdom of Ryukyu: An Ethnohistorical Approach to State Formation  9. Epilogue

View More



Akira Goto is Professor of Anthropology at Nanzan University, Japan. Born in 1954, Sendai, Japan, Professor Goto obtained his B.A. and M.A. from University of Tokyo (archaeology), followed by his Ph.D. in anthro- pology from University of Hawaiʻi. He was also the director of Anthropo- logical Institute, Nanzan University from 2010–2018.