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Take this one from 天狗 - Wikipedia as an example:

飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場した天狗だったが…

  1. Is it the same as

    天狗は飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場したが…

  2. Why do you use だった instead of here?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    If you understand how a Japanese 体言止め sentence works, I think this is a 体言止め-like expression, too. It's semantically the same, but looks more dramatic or emphatic. – naruto Apr 13 '18 at 17:08
  • ^ What naruto said. This is a kind of literary/stylistic device – Chocolate Apr 14 '18 at 1:15
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  1. Is (A) 飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場した天狗だったが the same as (B) 天狗は飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場したが?

Although (A) and (B) are logically same, Tengu is emphasized more in (A) than in (B), and as a nuance, I feel, they are quite different.

(A) 飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場した天狗だったが…
It was Tengu that appeared as a meteor in Nihon-shoki (the oldest chronicles of Japan) in the Asuka period, but now it is just a legendary creature with an unnaturally long nose.

(B) 天狗は飛鳥時代の日本書紀に流星として登場したが…
Tengu appeared as a meteor in Nihon-shoki (the oldest chronicles of Japan) in the Asuka period, but now it is just a legendary creature with an unnaturally long nose.

  1. Why do you use だった instead of だ here?

Since the time when the Tengu was thought to be a meteor is a past or the Aska period, it is expressed in the past tense.

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