Ō-No-Yasumaro - 太安万侶 - (born 660? – died August 15,723) composed the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, in 3 books) in 711-2 CE; the Kojiki, written in ancient man'yōgana is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami. Later, along with the Nihon Shoki [720 CE], the myths contained in the Kojiki were re-appropriated for Shinto practices including the misogi purification ritual.
The Kojiki contains various songs/poems. While the historical records and myths are written in a form of Chinese with a heavy mixture of Japanese elements, the songs are written with Chinese characters that are only used to convey sounds. This special use of Chinese characters is called Man'yōgana, a knowledge of which is critical to understanding these songs, which are written in Old Japanese.
The Kojiki is divided into three parts:
1. the Kamitsumaki (上巻 first volume?) ,
2. the Nakatsumaki (中巻? , middle volume) ,
3. the Shimotsumaki (下巻? , lower volume) .
1. The Kamitsumaki, also known as the Kamiyo no Maki (神代巻? , Volume of the Age of the Gods) , includes the preface of the Kojiki, and is focused on the deities of creation and the births of various deities of the kamiyo period, or Age of the Gods. The Kamitsumaki also outlines the myths concerning the foundation of Japan. It describes how Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu and great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, descended from heaven to Takachihonomine in Kyūshū and became the progenitor of the Japanese imperial line.
2. The Nakatsumaki begins with the story of Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor, and his conquest of Japan, and ends with the 15th Emperor, Emperor Ōjin. The second through ninth emperors' reigns are recorded in a minimum of detail, with only their names, the names of their various descendants, and the place-names of their palaces and tombs listed, and no mention of their achievements. Many of the stories in this volume are mythological, and the allegedly historical information in them is highly suspect. Recent studies support the view that these emperors were invented to push Jimmu's reign further back to the year 660 BC.
3. The Shimotsumaki covers the 16th to 33rd emperors and, unlike previous volumes, has very limited references to the interactions with deities. These interactions are very prominent in the first and second volumes. Information about the 24th to the 33rd emperors are largely missing, as well.