Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters ( Translations from the Asian Classics) by no Yasumaro Ō and Gustav Heldt
"The Kojiki, previously translated as "A Record of Ancient Matters," is considered to be the first literary work in the history of Japan. It is a compilation of myths, history, songs, legends, genealogies, and other disparate works from which written history and literature were later created. The Kojiki tells of the origins of the four home islands of Japan central to the inspiration behind Shinto practices.
The work moves in loosely historical progression starting with the creation of Japan in the age of the gods and the descent to earth of the ancestor of the imperial family through the reign of the legendary first sovereign, Emperor Jinmu, and successive rulers up to the reign of the 33rd sovereign, Empress Suiko (who reigned from 592-618).
The creation myth describes the origin of Japan through a musuhi or spontaneous power through which the gods came into existence. After seven generations of gods are created by this force the last generation, male and female gods, called Ianagi and Izanami, create the islands of Japan. The two then give birth to the gods of various natural phenomena, including gods of the sea and rivers, of the mountains and plains, of the wind and, finally, of fire, who causes the death of the goddess Izanami. The male deity Izanagi then gives birth himself to the central figure in the Kojiki mythology, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Her descendant, the god Ninigi, comes down from heaven to earth and becomes the ancestor of the Yamato emperors"
Gustav Heldt's translation of the Kojiki provides the English-speaking reader with the easiest access to Japan's oldest extant book.--Japanese Journal of Religious Studies