The original version of the Kojiki looks like it has no punctuation whatsoever.

enter image description here

I found a more recent text version of Kojiki online though, which has all kinds of punctuation and formatting.

enter image description here

It has brackets, quotes, periods, commas, paragraphs, nested list and table indentations, etc. Where did all of this come from? How can I remove the formatting and punctuation so that it becomes more like the original? Would it be safe to simply find/replace remove all punctuation and whitespace/indentation/nesting? Or what should I do?


Here is my intention. I would like to create a book for myself that looks like the ancient text. I want to do this so I can experience what it's like to directly try and translate an original source document. I want to print the text in a nice clear font though so it's easy to at least see the characters. I want to then try and figure out where the boundaries are between the sentences and everything on my own, without any help or preconceived notions or past junk from academia. I want to figure out the meaning of the text for myself. And to do that I would like to get the data down to its bare bones: just the characters in a sequence. From that I can print it how I like so it's easy to read, and I can figure out how I would like to add punctuation. This is, to be real, HOW THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT WAS FORMATTED ANYWAYS. I want the format of the original document, or close to it. It's not like I'm taking latin and removing the spaces, because they didn't do that when they wrote their books (at least to my knowledge). If they did, well then great I will do it for Latin too, but if they didn't, then I am going to leave the punctuation that they originally had.

  • 2
    Could you edit the question to state what you are trying to achieve by removing punctuation? At the moment, it seems like all you are wanting to do is to make a computer searchable edition of kojiki which imitates old texts by having a sparse smattering of punctuation (or none at all).
    – dROOOze
    Oct 29 '19 at 7:57
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    But you have a link to the old book already
    – dROOOze
    Oct 29 '19 at 8:45
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    What do you mean by "would it be safe"?
    – Leebo
    Oct 29 '19 at 8:52
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    Please clarify what your intent is so we can help you.
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 30 '19 at 21:06
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    I realize this post is nearly a year old, but just for the record, a 17th-century printed edition of Kojiki that includes both kaeriten and extensive furigana is hardly the "original version"!
    – Nanigashi
    Oct 22 '20 at 19:03

I can't read the Kojiki and don't know much about it, but I found this. It has all the books in a digital format, 上卷, 中卷 and 下卷, and also seems to feature minimal formatting. Looking at the images you provided of the physical book it seems as only the «。» and newlines were added, so removing those should do it.

This does not contain any katakana however which seems to be present in the original script, probably to provide the reading for some characters, but I am not sure. If you want to create a more modern typeset of the books with this information preserved I don't know where you would find it. There is also sometimes markings between and/or on the left of characters. This doesn't seem to match any of the modern punctuations so my best guess would be it represent tones, but I am again not sure.

I also couldn't help to see that some characters where different, specifically the first character on the third page «躰» which becomes «體» in both of the online versions mentioned, both meaning body (体 in modern Japanese). And it's worth mentioning that the text is old, so characters will look different in modern fonts. But also not every Chinese character that exists can be written on a computer as it first need to be added to Unicode, just take the character Biang from BiangBiang noodles, despite being well know (for it's ridicules complexity) it still can't be typed on a computer, at least in a format that can be universally understood. Which may or may not be relevant here.

If you really want to decipher the text yourself you should probably use the images of the original as otherwise you might throw important information away. Anyway, I hope this was helpful in any way.


I am mystified why this wasnot mentioned before, but the first challenge to read the Kojiki in the original is that the original is not any stage of Japanese at all. The book is made in Classical Chinese, albeit in a localized flavour (hentai kanbun). This means that reading the text with knowledge of Old Japanese is, blankly saying, impossible - while reading it with knowledge of Classical Chinese would still require some attunement to the local peculiarities of usage and phrasing, but is nevertheless feasible. As befit of Classical Chinese, the only punctuation that is consistent is the full stop; any other is finally an effort of modern commentators.

The only kind of punctuation that is vital for understanding and is actually used non-stop is the fact that the text is covered by multiple reading guides, which are normally typeset in smaller font (as here - note this is Chinese WikiSource). Almost non-stop the text will give in those some word, seemingly Chinese, and then explain it is a native Japanese word, read such-and-such. The readings themselves are given with man'yōgana, which is a local method of spelling words phonetically, and so you should familiarize yourself with man'yōgana as well, at least to recognize it when it starts (古事記 uses so-called "System D" [Miyake 1999, p. 17], a handy reference is Bentley's dictionary, and an accessible explanation is given by Miyake's dissertation, The Phonology of Eighth Century Japanese revisited: Another Reconstruction Based Upon Written Records (1999)).

And it also has multiple songs, written in man'yōgana, and these are definitely written in Old Japanese. So, to understand them, Old Japanese understanding is required. If you manage to get ahold of Bjarke Frellesvig - A history of the Japanese language - Cambridge University Press (2010) and use the corpus as the dictionary, it won't be that hard... compared to the unique challenge of mastering Classical Chinese for the rest, I mean.


As noted in the comments, why would you want to remove punctuation and whitespace? Your use case is not clear to me.

To guess a bit about your use case and reasons:

Case 1: To learn Japanese

If you're trying to learn Japanese, be aware of the important fact that the Kojiki is not (modern) Japanese -- parts of it are in a kind of Classical Chinese, and parts are in a different, albeit related, language called Old Japanese. Learning to read the Old Japanese parts of the Kojiki in order to learn Japanese is a bit like learning to read Beowulf in order to learn English: a lot of work, and at the end, you'll understand the ancient form of the language, with little ability to understand the modern tongue.

Case 2: To learn Old Japanese

If you're trying to learn to read the Kojiki itself as an Old Japanese text, the modernized version with punctuation and whitespaces will be a lot easier -- you don't have to guess at sentence and section divisions, as that work has already been done for you, and by people with a much greater understanding of the text. And again, like Beowulf, you really don't want to start your studies by choosing a harder form of the text. Try reading any of this, for instance:

enter image description here

... compared to this typeset version available on Wikisource:

example typesetting of the original Old English text

You might notice that little things like punctuation, capitalization, and whitespace make it much easier to visually parse the text and understand the meter and structure of the poem, as compared to the ancient manuscript's Wall-o'-Text™ layout.


Returning to your question:

Is it okay to remove the punctuation and whitespace from a modern text format of Kojiki?

Without more detail about why you want to do this, and inferring greatly from what little you've told us, the best advice I can give you is don't. You'd only be making things harder for yourself.

  • I don't think the OP is trying to learn japanese from that text, but of course it's only a guess, too. If that were the case, wouldn't the question be off-topic anyway?
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 30 '19 at 21:03
  • @jarmanso7, ya, it's all guessing at this point. The OP did say, "I don't speak Japanese yet", implying an intention to do so, so that's what I ran with. Oct 30 '19 at 21:22
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    I've updated with my intent. Your example of Beowulf is spot on. However, I AM GOING TO TRY AND LEARN BEOWULF FROM THE ORIGINALLY FORMATTED TEXT TOO. Please don't try and convince me otherwise, that is not what my question is. My question is, if I remove the nested lists and parentheses on that text of Kojiki above, will it get me back to the original sequence of characters found in the original text? Can I simply remove punctuation and everything will be fine? Or has stuff been rearranged, numbers added, extra characters and titles added, etc.
    – Lance
    Oct 31 '19 at 6:34
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    If it's just about seeing if the two match... Can't you try removing what you want to remove and see if they match? It's kind of just busywork in that case, no?
    – Leebo
    Oct 31 '19 at 6:38

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