This is the first collection of Buddhist legends in Japan, and these stories form the repertoire of miraculous events and moral examples that later Buddhist priests used for preaching to the people. As Kyokai describes his own intentions, "By editing these stories of miraculous events I want to pull the people forward by the ears, offer my hand to lead them to good, and show them how to cleanse their feet of evil" (p.222).
Nakamura's book is actually two works in one: first an introduction to the Nihon ryoiki, and then an annotated translation. The introduction analyzes the life of the author and the influence of earlier writings, and provides a valuable synthesis of the world view reflected in the work.
The annotated translation renders the more than one hundred stories into English narrative, with copious notes. Difficult terms are identified in the text with the original Chinese characters, while historical matters and Buddhist technical terms are explained in the footnotes.
'A major contribution made by Kyoko Motomochi Nakamura Nakamura's book is much more than merely a lavishly annotated translation. Nakamura demonstrates her familiarity with both Western and Japanese scholarship beyond the scope of her immediate subject matter. A refreshing down-to-earth approach which does not confuse religion with philosophy or pure metaphysics. An excellent scholarly work which deserves the attention of scholars from various fields. Despite the high price of the reprint, I would not hesitate to recommend its purchase. It is worth every single dollar, yen, pound or whatever currency it takes.' - Christoph Kleine, Japanese Religions