The Hotsuma Tsutae (also Hotuma Tsutaye, Japanese 秀真伝) is an elaborate epic poem of Japanese mythology and history which differs substantially from the 'mainstream' versions as recorded in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Its antiquity is undetermined.

The brief Wiki summary provides the background to this piece:

"Although many proponents allege that the Hotsuma predates the mainstream mythology, the first known manuscript was dedicated to a shrine by Waniko Yasutoshi (also known as Yunoshin Ibo) in 1775. Some excerpts were published and translated into modern Japanese in 1884, a printing which was noted by Hirata Atsutane in his work on jindai moji, a Japanese writing system developed prior to the use of Chinese characters, but which otherwise ignored the work. Atsutane's Kokugaku was principally concerned with the Kojiki and the Hotsuma Tsutae would have only muddled his theories. Yasutoshi's manuscript was almost lost, but was discovered and rescued in 1993 following the publication of some popular books on the subject in the mid-20th century by Yoshinosuke Matsumoto.

The Hotsuma Tsutae is known for its text and rhythm. It was written in yamato-kotoba, which only uses a Japanese vocabulary which predates contact with China. Some of the yamato-kotoba used in Hotsuma Tsutae are unattested elsewhere in the Old Japanese corpus but have parallels to old words, meaning that if it is a late medieval hoax it is extremely elaborate. Among other things in its primarily historical and non-mythological record, the text discusses the births, lives, and deaths of kami from Japanese folk shrines and history; in this case, the word kami being used to mean something like royalty and not "gods". In the poem, Amaterasu, the sun kami of Shinto, is male, and not female as is written in the official records. Matsumoto theorizes that Amaterasu was feminized in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki to provide a justification for the reign of Empress Suiko who reigned just before those documents were written.

Although for the most part Japanese academics remain uninterested in this text, some scholars are of the opinion that it may have been written in the Edo period. This is due to claims that the text was written in an original Japanese alphabet - in academic circles, the existence of writing in Japan before the use of Chinese characters is denied, also the alphabet does not reflect the Old Japanese phonology but rather those of later stages of Japanese. The general opinion is that it is a false document. However, no definitive conclusion has yet been reached."

Shugendo at Mt Fuji
The following article was taken from the magazine of the Fuji-ko, a Shugen-type sect active on Mt. Fuji. The Fujiko began in the 17th century as a blend of localised Fuji worship which came into contact with the Yamabushi which would wander into the area. 

After the Meiji Restoration, Fuji pilgrimage groups suffered from the policies of the new government, which was intent on unifying the country under a “restored” Shinto and in the process temporarily persecuted Buddhism and permanently disbanded Shugendo -. During the early Meiji years, when the attack on Buddhism was at its height and Buddhist institutions and artwork were the target of looting and destruction, many of Fuji’s sacred sites, being of mixed heritage, were also targets of the same religious zealotry. Indeed some of Fuji’s history is obscured because priceless statues and other artifacts were moved, lost, or destroyed during this time. Although not officially banned, the Fuji confraternities lost momentum and never fully recovered. However, during the Tokugawa era—the golden age of Fuji belief and Fuji confraternities—government suppression of Fuji groups could neither prevent their growth nor hinder their activities.

The end of World War II in 1945 was accompanied by the specific disestablishment of Shinto and the general banning of all state-sponsored religion. All religious groups were set back by the massive destruction of the country. However, the policy of complete freedom of religion ushered in an era of phenomenal growth for existing new religions and new religions that developed in the postwar era. With the lifting of the ban on Shugendo -, some groups reorganized formally as Shugendo institutions. Within this setting the remaining Fujiko - were free to organize and operate as they wished, the same as new religions and Shugendo -, but conditions were not favorable for their revival.

Scholars attribute the decline of Fujiko - and their activities mainly to the loss of homes and neighborhood identity (Iwashina 1983, 8), particularly in the Fujiko - stronghold of Tokyo. In postwar times Tokyo’s skyline grew higher, obscuring the sight of Fuji for many Tokyoites; furthermore the influx of new people meant that the old customs died out. These certainly were daunting conditions for Fujiko - to surmount in reorganizing, but even in areas that survived the war unscathed, fujizuka and Fujiko - did not prosper. An already diminished Fuji religiosity was hampered by the changed social conditions and the momentum of the new religions. One of the ironies of Fuji “pilgrimage” is that increasingly in modern times, when fewer people climbed for religious reasons as members of Fujiko -, many more made the ascent as a recreational or sightseeing activity.

Shugendo at Mt. Fuji is mostly spoke of in reference to Matsudai Shonin, who is credited with 'opening' the mountain, and the Fuji-Ascetic Kakugyo, who is said to have received the practice of the primary deity Sengen-Dainichi/Sengen Daibosatsu directly from En no Gyoja himself. Apart from the various Fujiko fraternity groups, Shugendo on Mt. Fuji has also had a re-ermergence through Yamato-Shugenkai, a Honzan-ha affiliated Shugendo group which now carries out practices at the mountain. Research of Fuji-Shugen speaks to the desperate attempts to continue customs and practices centuries old in the new mountain-complex - a highly changed social and geographical setting. An article on one of their lead ascetics, Kakugyo, can be found in the library section. One of the groups head-priests, Rev. Minoru Harada - who regularly participates in the Nyubu of Mt. Koshikidake - introduced me to the Hotsuma concept. In 2019 he was the ascetic who performed the Fuji-Senko Goma at Mt. Koshikidake and conducted the 'worship of Mt. Chokai from afar'. He is one of many convinced of its authenticity. For those interested I present the alphabet and notes as well as the article below.

Archaic Vocabulary of the Hotsuma Tsutae:
by Andrew Driver

Anyone setting out to forge an ancient document would be sure to pepper it liberally with vocabulary that never existed. This would then be presented as evidence of a lost culture. The 'Hotsuma' forger, if indeed there was one, has duly done this but has gone one stage further; certain lexemes not found in modern Japanese are closely bound to spiritual and philosophical beliefs that lie at the heart of the Hotsuma Tsuta.

Take the oft repeated concept of Tamakaeshi for instance. In Japanese as it is today tama (or more usually Tamashii) is the human 'spirit' or 'soul'; kaeshi is a verbal noun from kesu; 'to give back or return'.

Tamakaeshi encapsulates a belief found only in the Hotsuma Tsutae of all known Japanese mythologies, that hte human soul originates from the cosmos and is 'returned'there after death, thence quickly to resume life in a different form.

More specifically, the human personal consists of a tama or spiritual self and a shiyi or carnal self.

These two added together as 'tama+shiyi' or tamashii, form the modern awareness of 'soul'.

But in the Hotsuma Tsutae they are presented as two distinct elements.

The tama or spiritual self is thought to come from the cosmos, the shiyi from the earth.

The two are linked together by the tama-no-wo, or 'knot of the spirit'. Untying this 'knot' is key to tamakaeshi.

If the bearer of the soul has lived in observance of the 'Way of Hotsuma' (Heavens), the knot will be easily untied and the tama will return to the heavens, the shiyi to the earth.

But if the person has lived a life too heavily immersed in the carnal world, the knot will be harder to untie and the bearer may be destined to wander aimlessly in a kind of limbo between the two planes (described as a mata or 'fork in the road').

Ofcourse, this process of tamakaeshi is nothing but a kind of reincarnation or 'transmigration of the soul'.

And as such, it echoes similar beliefs in other philosophies - the Buddhist concept of rebirth, for example, or the Hindu notion of punarjanma on which the Buddhist concept is founded. Hinduism in particular, divides the human persona into atman, the cosmic self and jiva, the living being.

These terms are inevitably subject to varying interpretations by different schools, but both elements are intrinsically pure and survive physical death, being reassigned to new life-forms depending on the bearer's karma in the previous life. The resemblance to tamakaeshi is clear.

Besides the physical resemblance of the Hindu words atman and jiva to the Hotsuma's tama and shiyi, meanwhile, Hinduism also combines these words in the term jivatma, 'the individual soul'. The similarity of this term to the modern Japanese tama-shii is remarkable (though the elements would appear to have been reversed), reflecting the separate nature of the two as presented in the Hotsuma Tsutae.

This apparent similarity could of course be entirely coincidental - or of course fabricated.

Knowledge of Hinduism would have entered Japan in a single package with Buddhism from around the 6th Century AD, along with its pantheon and spirit philosophy, since so many of these were already enshrined within Buddhism.

Our 'forger' may simply have looked for a convenient equivalent to punarjanma and come up with tamakaeshi.

But our conclusion may not be so simply after all. For a start, the notion of 'returning to the cosmos' is not familiar to Hinduism or Buddhism. If anything, it has more resonance with the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, who conceptually divided the human persona into the five elements; ib (heart), sheut (shadow), ren (name), ba (soul) and ka (life essence), the be and ka being separated on death and re-uinted in the afterlife.

It should be remembered, moreover, that the concept of reincarnation is by no means the sole domain of Hinduism and Buddhism; as well as other Indian religions, it is also, according to Gananath Obeyesekere, 'a common belief in pagan religious such as Druidism, Spiritualism, Theosophy and Eckankar, and is found in many tribal societies from around the world, in places such as Siberia, West Africa, North America and Australia.' In other words, tamakaeshi could bear the hallmark of a culture more ancient than the forgery hypothesis will allow.

Certainly, the insistence that 'souls originate in the cosmos' finds resonance in primitive or prehistoric societies all over the world.

Various rituals apart, the religious beliefs of the proto-Japanese are given scant attention in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. Those 'beliefs', such as they are, seem to be a mishmash of random mysticism, with a waving of sacred wands here, a visit to a holy mountain there.

No mention is made of a belief in an afterlife, something found in both 'primitive' and 'advanced' societies all over the world. In his 'Additional Notes to the Kojiki', Donald Philippi refers to a study on Japanese Mythology by Takeo Matsumura (Nihon Shinwa no Kenkyu, 1954-58):

"Matsumura concludes that, in comparison with other ancient peoples, the Japanese were almost completed indifferent to the details of the afterlife..."

The optimistic this-worldliness of the Japanese, living in their mild and sunny islands, made them indifferent to anything as uncertain and morbid as life after death. Furthermore, since the main object of the Kojiki mythology was to explain the poltiical and historical background for the rule of the Yamato Court, the afterlife is not described in detail because it was considered irrelevant.

These paradoxical statements are so preposterous as to be actually quite laughable.

Firstly, judging from well-documented evidence found in both ancient and primitive societies (including those of the Mayans, Egyptians and even Neanderthals), it would be odd for the ancient Japanese not to have more than a casual attitude towards the afterlife.

Secondly, if the motivation behind the Kojiki precludes dwelling on 'irrelevant' details, why are we given such detailed accounts of Izanami's death and her pursuit of Izanagi in the underworld (more likely a perpetuation of after-death taboos than evidence of an afterlife belief) ?

Thirdly, if the content of the Kojiki is discredited as a largely fictitious attempt to justify the rule of the Yamato, how could its description of primitive beliefs be taken as anything approaching historical fact.

In February 2009, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that a boat-shaped wooden coffin dated to around 2000 before present (mid-Yayoi period, some two centuries older than any previously found) had been discovered in Nagoya.

As in some Southeast Asian cultures, a boat shaped coffin was doubtless meant to ferry the deceased to the other world. Another large boat shaped coffin containing precious grave goods was also found in one of the Ohoburo Minami tombs in Kyoto, dated to the same period. And a famous tomb painting of a boat, along with the sun, moon and birds resting on it was found in the Mezurashizuka Mound in Fukuoka, belonging to the Kofun period.

The symbolic link between boats and death was clearly significant to people in those distant times, suggesting that they were anything but 'indifferent to details of the afterlife'.

In the Hotsuma Tsutae, the apparently random rituals found in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki are presented as expressions of a belief system centered on the veneration of higher beings, whether in nature or in bloodlines, coupled with the observance of the 'Way of Heaven'.

And the concept of tamakaeshi is a key component of this system. It would be understandable, for a people keen to embrace Buddhism as the religious of a culture regarded as superior (Chinese), to disavow themselves of their past beliefs, to denigrate them, or even to pretend that they never existed.

That, claim adherents of the Hotsuma Hypotehsis, is what happened when the Kojiki and Nihonshoki came to be written.

As a footnote to the tamakaeshi, there is one very good reason why Ibo Yunoshin may not have been inclined to invent this as a term expressing spiritual reunion. According to the Kodansha Dictionary of Edo Japanese (1979) there was a reported use of the word tamagaeshi in 1860 (admittedly some years after Ibo's work). It meant 'sending back an unwanted prostitute' .

See also: Kobo Daishi and the Ten Precepts of the Hiragana Alphabet

English Translation of the Hotsuma-Tsutae

Articles: Fuji-Ko and the Hotsuma Tsutae

The Hotsuma Tsutae is known for its text and rhythm. It was written in yamato-kotoba, which only uses a Japanese vocabulary which predates contact with China. Some of the yamato-kotoba used in Hotsuma Tsutae are unattested elsewhere in the Old Japanese corpus but have parallels to old words, meaning that if it is a late medieval hoax it is extremely elaborate.