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The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan: Lost Chronicles of the Age of the Gods

by

Special To The Japan Times

Every religion or collection of national myths requires a great deal of editing. Some texts are selected as “official,” others are discarded. A by-product of this is the world of apocrypha, mysterious manuscripts that, it is claimed, contain esoteric insights or divine revelations.

The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan: Lost Chronicles of the Age of the Gods, by Avery Morrow.
Bear and Company Books, Nonfiction.

In Japan, outside the official canon of books such as the “Nihon Shoki” and the “Kojiki,” with their accounts of Japan’s mythical past, there also exists a rich tradition of apocryphal documents, tenuously connected to the more orthodox works. This is the subject of Avery Morrow’s “The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan.”

According to the writer, there are roughly two dozen of these manuscripts, dating back centuries but rejected by orthodox scholars.

Looking at four of these, and translating from the Japanese, Morrow explores their origins and possible meanings. Are they remnants of a civilization far more advanced than conventional history tells us, and do they include prophecies?

Morrow takes an open-minded approach, combining critical analysis with the insights of philosophers Rene Guenon and Julius Evola. While examining the known historical facts, Morrow also employs the Socratic concept of “anamnesis,” a belief that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations that can be creatively “rediscovered” through apocryphal documents —even if they prove to be forgeries.

The unusual texts covered include the Katakamuna Documents, esoteric writings supposedly handed to a engineer by a mysterious hunter in the mountains of Hyogo in the 1950s. In Morrow’s hands this otherwise oddball subject matter is turned into a fascinating and readable tale.

  • Bernd Phoenix

    I met Avery Morrow at our Japanese Matsuri in Santa Fe and bought his book there. Considering the subject I expected a hard read, but it turned out to be a very exciting book that read like a mystery novel. I found it hard to stop reading and was amazed at what stories emerged. If you are interested in Japanese mythology and history I can only recommend this book.

  • ryukoyamada

    I can’t recommend this book at all! The author seems to be influenced by conspiracy theories and bizarre ideas, many of which are modern but are read back into these texts. Some of the texts claim to come from an era 500 years before we even had literacy in Japan! As early modern conspiracy theories these texts are interesting but the author buys into it and misleads the reader into all sorts of nonsense. He discusses no real scholarship in support of his arguments because no credible Japanese historian supports these ideas. That’s not because somehow he alone has found the long-hidden “truth”: it’s because it doesn’t hold up to serious research. There are many great studies of ancient history and mythology by experts in the field. This is no such thing. It is poorly-researched and based on fantasy not study. You do readers a disservice by treating this as a meaningful work.