Historian Joan R. Piggott translates fudoki (風土紀) as "regional gazetteers," but the less practical and most literal translation of "Records of Wind and Earth" is also seen in academic circles. These "gazetteers" followed the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki as early historical texts, but what sets them apart is their individuality: they are limited in scope, as the information they contain stays within the borders of their respective provinces. It is believed that the writers of the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki used various fudoki to gather information for their final work.
A two hundred year lull seperated the fudoki's inception and the order by the Dajôkan's 太政官 in 925 for a recollection of all the fudoki. Mark Funke mentions that they were most likely to be used to add the Engi Shiki, which was written in 927. In the Heian Period, they fell out of national interest to more popular and aesthetic literature.
In 1297, Funke notes that "abridged versions began to appear."
Like contemporary texts, it was mostly written in Chinese. However, similar to the notable linguistic hybrid seen in the Kojiki, it contained interwoven Japanese when citing word-for-word or presenting poetry.
The following fudoki are extant:
- Bungo fudoki 豊後風土紀 723
- Hitachi fudoki 常陸風土紀 Unknown
- Harima fudoki 播磨風土紀 714/715 A.D.
- Izumo fudoki 出雲風土紀 733
- Hizen fudoki 肥前風土紀 723
- Higo fudoki Pending
- Chikuzen fudoki
There is some discrepancy in the number and titles of remaining fudoki, in that Piggott lists all the above except the Bungo fudoki as being extant. However, an impressive work by Michiko Y. Aoki has all the above fudoki including the Bungo text translated into English. However, it is missing the Higo text. The Cambridge History of Japan Volume One: Ancient Japan helps put some closure to this issue:
"Only the Izumo fudoki survives intact; the gazetteers of Harima, Bungo, Hitachi, and Hizen are partially preserved, and fragments of a number of others have come down thanks to being quoted in various works."
The mysterious "number of others," therefore, puts to rest this confusion over the discrepancies.
Joan Piggott. The Emergence of Japanese Kingship.
Mark C. Funke. "Hitachi no Kuni Fudoki", Monumenta Nipponica.