Isho Nihon den

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Ishô Nihon den is an investigation of Japan's history, written in 1688 by the Kyoto-based Confucian scholar & physician Matsushita Kenrin (aka Seihô Sanjin, 1637-1703). It is sometimes said to be the first Japanese text to consider Japan's diplomatic history, or history of foreign relations, at length.

Organized into fifteen chapters (冊) in three volumes (巻), the text was written by Matsushita in 1688, and published in Osaka by Terita Shôtarô beginning in 1694. It draws extensively upon ancient Chinese and Korean histories in its considerations of Japan's history. The three sections of the first volume cover the period from the Han Dynasty to the Yuan Dynasty. The eight sections of the middle volume covers the Ming Dynasty, and the four sections of the third volume relates Japanese history based on Korean documents.

In drawing upon the Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shānhǎi jīng), it is one of the first major Japanese texts to assert the notion of Ezo and Ryûkyû as having been part of the original "Japanese" (Wa) cultural sphere. The Ishô Nihon den is said to have been rather influential upon Arai Hakuseki on this point.


  • Yokoyama Manabu 横山学, Ryûkyû koku shisetsu torai no kenkyû 琉球国使節渡来の研究, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (1987), 137.
  • "Ishô Nihon den," Britannica kokusai dai hyakka jiten, Britannica Japan 2014.
  • "Ishô Nihon den," Nihon dai hyakka zensho Nipponica, Shogakukan Inc.