Gisho (forged document and books) (偽書)

Gisho are documents or books in which the origins of either the author or the time at which it was allegedly written is apocryphal. Gisho are words used mainly for historical learning (that is, in cases where historical aspects are called into question). It is not called a gisho simply because it contains false contents.

There is a similar term 'gisaku' (a fake) (as a document). A gisaku is differentiated from a gisho, in that a gisaku refers to an imitation book which does not have falsified origin or opportunistic book. But it is not necessarily a precise distinction and sometimes they are confused with each other.
(The word forgery in English contains both meanings.)
In this article, we treat documents that have falsified origins for the sake of convenience, give an outline and illustrate by example, and also handle related topics at the same time as gisho.

(note that this designation includes, in addition to the examples given in this article, works positively identified as gisho as well as any works "specialists suspect are gisho."
(For more information on the degree to which such works are suspected of being gisho, and the evidence for that belief, consult the linked articles on each individual item.)

Positioning of gisho

Although gisho are apt to be misunderstood as being of no use, there are a few that are meaningless from an academic standpoint except for examples that involve the occult or are fraudulent. Considering the fact that many documents in history were lost due to burning and aging deterioration, it can be said that existing documents are better than nothing at all. Although they have historical value from a psychological standpoint, and influence from politicians and authors (or presumed authors), it is necessary to review them while strictly bearing the intent with which they were written, in mind. Gisho within folklore and so forth can also provide clues as to how folk beliefs have changed through time. The difficulty with gisho is that they have many examples that include religious and political ideology. However, it should be noted that with religious books, simply being a gisho does not necessarily strip a book of its significance, and as a result this sort of gisho should be considered a separate category. Moreover, in order to supplement the defects of written materials (historical science) which are apt to be reflected by artificial intent, gisho have also been verified with archeological materials.

Gisho in Japanese history

There are few gisho catalogues in Japan only with "gisho shu" (collection) by Kodo HAYAMI (1853, 3 volumes, in the possession of Waseda University) and "gisho sen" (selection) by Teijo ISE.

Gisho (extraction) carried in "gisho shu"
"Koyo gunkan" (military model), "Mikawago fudoki" (climatic writing), "Tokugawa rekidaiki" (chronicle writing), "Record of future"
Gisho (extraction) carried in "gisho sen"

History books

In history books, there are many cases in which the time of their completion is asserted to be earlier than it was, and thus verifying the time of their completion has become the starting point for criticicism of historical materials. In the case of "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters), the oldest history book in Japan, since there is no record on the time of its completion in "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), which is the official history book, and also based on the fact that it is a handwritten copy, it is suspected as gisho by Iwao YAMATO ("Consideration into the completion of Records of Ancient Matters" (1975), "Is the view that Records of Ancient Matters is gisho, not established?" (1988), and Hayato OOSHIMA ("Discussion about Records of Ancient Matters establishment" (1989), "Discovery of anthologizing method of Records of Ancient Matters of Japan" (1994). Moreover, "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) was added with many embellishments to justify the government by the Imperial Court. As a result of these embellishments, fiction is mixed in many of the descriptions. This was already pointed out by Motoori NORINAGA and others during the Edo period. In the case of the Chronicles of Japan, it is not called gisho because falsehood were not added to the origin of its establishment. However, some scholars suspect that certain historical materials such as the Seventeen-Article Constitution and the Taika Reform go beyond mere embellishment, and consequently those materials themselves may well be gisho of later ages. In addition, since there are many grammar mistakes in the descriptions about the age before and after the Taika Reform (there are entirely no grammar mistakes in other ages), it has been pointed out that there is a chance that the Chronicles of Japan was altered.

Turning our attention to the category of ancient history and legends, we have examples such as "Sendai kyuji honki" (Record for occurrences in previous age). In the preface of this record, the writer asserts that it was edited in the 7th century, earlier than the Chronicles of Japan. However, it is actually considered to have been established in the 9th century, during the early Heian period. With regard to the preface, it is considered that the preface is gisho, assuming that it corresponds to the prefaces for "Tennoki" (a Record of the Emperors) and "Kokki" (a National Record), and that a person familiar to the Mononobe clan created the story in order to give authority to the Mononobe clan (Akira FUJIWARA, "Nihon no gisho" (a book of gisho, apocryphal book in Japan), Bungei shunju, 2004). Further, "Sendai kyuji honki daiseikyo," which is presumed to be written based on "Sendai kyuji honki," appeared in the 17th century. There are many examples where one gisho creates another gisho, that are not limited to the aforementioned example.

In Japan, a gisho with the title "Mirai-ki" (Accounts of Future Events) by Prince Shotoku, who was said to be able to tell the future of Japan, has circulated since ancient times, and Masashige KUSUNOKI, a famous military commander in 14th century, was said to make use of this gisho to raise the morale of his army.

During the Showa period, the " Takeuchi document" which was spread by Kiyomaro TAKEUCHI, also came up in conversation with the announcement that it was a historical book written in the age before "Records of Ancient Matters." But it was proved that the book was a gisho written in recent times.

Among history books, "Tonichirugai-sangunshi" is suspected to be a work from an ancient era, and is said to be gisho written in the 20th century. "Tonichirugai-sangunshi" was once used as material for local city history and is an example of a historical document that once published, became unstoppable without appropriate criticism (another example is of "Hamamatsujo-ki" (Record of Hamamatsu-jo Castle)).

Gisho for records of war and genealogies of the Edo period
In Edo period, forgeries of war tale were common in order to honor ancestors of feudal lords and genealogies were distorted. Ujisato SASAKI (Gennai SAWADA) set the trend of gisho including "Kogen heraldry book," Big genealogies, Japanese Analects and others in block-printed books and written copies.

Two books "Mikawa Go Fudoki" (The Topographical Records of Mikawa Province) and "Tokugawa rekidai" (chronicle of the successive generations of the Tokugawa house) are gisho that were in vogue with unknown authorship and they were written for the purpose of praising the achievements of successive Tokugawa shoguns. Several works, namely the "Ansai essay" by Teijo ISE (1784), the "Gisho ko" (a book about gisho) and the "Fuken guki" by Masahide KOMIYAMA (Fuken), claim that gisho were quite widespread.

"Mikawa Go Fudoki" is said to have been written by Shinkichi HIRAIWA and "Tokugawa rekidai" to have been written by Yasutaka OOSUGA. But the writers of those 2 books are unknown and those 2 books are gisho with assumed names. Furthermore, regarding "Mikawa Go Fudoki," in "Revised Mikawa Go Fudoki" (written by Tsukanao NARISHIMA) in which he calibrated "Mikawa Go Fudoki," Narishima asserted that Gennai SAWADA was its author.

From Edo to the present day

Examples of history books where the possibility of gisho is pointed out.

For convenience of classification, we treat Chinese classics, which are not limited to history books, in this section.

History books related to ancient China
History books which are said to be gisho based on "Chinese gisho synthetic consideration" edited by To Tanzen, O Kanei and others (ou zan publishing company, 1998, ISDN 7805355568)

"I Ching" (The Book of Changes), "Shosho" (Classic of History), Shi Jing (the oldest pieces of Chinese literature), "Shurei" (Rites of Zhou), "Raiki" (Book of Rites), "The Zuo Zhuan" (The Chronicle of Zuo) (Shunjukoyoden, Shunjukokuryoden), "Rongo" (Analects of Confucius), "Moshi" (Mencius), "Mozi" (a book of Chinese thought), "Hanfeizi" (a book of Chinese thought), "Shan Hai Jing" (Classic of mountains and seas), "Sonshi" (Chinese books about tactics).
Records of Ancient Matters
Theory that Records of Ancient Matters is gisho. Old history books, legends and other equivalent books.
Sendai Kujihongi (Ancient Japanese History)
Sendai Kujihongi taiseikyo
Takeuchi-monjo (an ancient text which recorded the lineage of ancient kami and a dynasty preceding Emperor Jinmu)
Criticism on Takeuchi-monjo

"Tsugaru Sangun-shi" (The history of the three counties in Tsugaru region)

Documents and books related to Korean peninsula
"Kandan Koki" (Texts on Ancient Korean History)
View that "Kandan Koki" is gisho
Century of Korean knight

Historical materials

Historical documents suspected of being gisho, are not limited to historical books, various historical materials are also the target of criticism for being gisho. Cases in Europe include, "Song of Bilitis" misrepresented by Pierre Louis,saying that he dug out in Phoenicia and translated, and "History of Phoenicia" forged by Friedrich Wagenfeld are famous. In ancient times there were examples such as "the Seventeen-Article Constitution," and in modern time there is the example such as "three banzais (cheers) decree" which appeared at the end of 20th century. The former is considered to be an embellishment, but as for the latter the intent of the fakery is not clear. In this way, the intent behind the creation of faked historical materials can not be placed under a single category. However, gisho which often disturb the public are the ones that contain political intent (or at least are presumed to do so). Among this type of gisho, "protocol (agreement) of the sage on Mount Zion (Jewish agreement)" is particularly notorious. This is obviously a gisho, but today it has helped to identify the document that is presumed to be original source. It was used to justify anti-Semitism in the past and there are some persons who value this document among people insisting the existence of a Jewish plot. One example of a gisho dealing with a political conspiracy is the "Tanaka Josobun" (the Tanaka memorial). Among gisho, "Hitler Diaries" was used in a case relating to fraud.

Additionally, in case there was no original book of historical material, the material quoted in other documents may be criticized to be a forged document. The Seventeen Articles of Constitution, that was already quoted is an example. In the modern and present-day eras, the ckay tablet called " Narcal," which was quoted by James Churchward as a basic historical material in his book related to "Continent of MU," is suspected to be a gisho of fictitious origin (James Churchward insists).

Examples of historical materials that are suspected of being gisho

The Seventeen-Article Constitution. The original of the Keian official notice which is said to have been issued to control farmers in the age of Shogun Iemitsu, was not confirmed, gave rise to doubt for its being the law of shogunate and was asserted by some persons as gisho. However, in recent years, the examination of old documents has revealed that the hanpo (domainal law) in the land of the Kofu domain of Kai Province, codified during the Genroku era, spread to cover various provinces through the publishing of books, while the belief that the hanpo had been regarded as "Bakuho (Shogunate law) during the Keian era" was a Kansei era addition.

The Book of Five Rings

"Nanpo roku" (Nanpo record)
About the opinion which asserts "the Nanpo roku" is gisho.
"Buko Yawa" (Notes of Military feats)
Dispute over the value of "Buko Yawa" as a historical material
"Hamamatsujo ki" (Records in Hamamatsu-jo Castle)
Examination of "Hamamatsujo ki"
Order for " three cheers of banzai"
Nihon kaiho dainiki kosaku yoko (China Communist Party Phase II Operational Directive for Liberation (Colonization) of Japan)
Whether "Nihon kaiho dainiki kosaku yoko" is true or false (gisho)
Donation letter of Constantine

"Tohokenbunroku" (The Travels of Marco Polo)
Records of Taiwan
Prophecy of Archbishop Saint Malachi relating to all popes
The first publication of Prophecy of Archbishop Saint Malachi relating to all popes and its historical background
Agreement of Mount Zion sage (Jewish Agreement)
Witness of Shostakovich
Tanaka memorial to the Emperor (Tanaka memorandum)

Prediction (made) by Einstein
Precepts of Yukichi FUKUZAWA

Religious book

In case of judging a religious book from a historical standpoint, its origin naturally becomes the object of judgment. However, in a religious book, they always assert that religion stems from its god and the originator of the religion.


To take the case of Christianity as an example, the question of whether Mark (the evangelist) wrote the Gospel of Mark himself or was simply a translator for Peter is the subject of historical study. It is the object of theology to discuss whether "the Gospel according to Marco" was written by a person near Petro and who reported Petro's comment. Therefore, it is true that there is an aspect that is not suited to the discussion of whether "the Gospel according to Marco" reported Petro's discourse. Except for sacred books for religions born after recent times (the Book of Mormon, the Book of the Unification Church), there is no reason for them to be categorized as gisho regardless of whether or not they included falsehoods. In addition, from the above reasons, "whether it is a gisho or not" or "whether it is a sacred book or not" are different problems.

Concerning the New Testament, classification between canonical books, which are said to stem from the Twelve Apostles, immediate pupils of Christ, and other secular books were conducted at least till the 4th century. However, among 14 documents with the name of Paulo in canonical books, it is agreed that only 8 books were written by Paulo. Among the 5 documents of the canonical books of John, 4 are said to be the works of unknown authors and the remaining one is a work of John. Whether or not this is true is uncertain.


Concerning Buddhist scriptures, it is the rule to take the style of writing by pupils what they heard from Buddha and it is said that the content of scriptures are Buddha's teachings. If the definition of 'Buddha's teachings' was limited to his own words that his pupils wrote down, it must be acknowledged that no such writings exist. The oldest transcription such as "Agonkyo" is from the 4th century BC, at the earliest, and it is thought that the transcription was edited to match the style of collection over a long period of time. The scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism such as "the Wisdom Sutras" were established in the period between about the first year of the Christian era and 3rd century, and are far removed from the age of Buddha. Therefore, some persons insist that they are not Buddha's teachings. But this difference is not due to a difference in the establishment of teachings, but is thought to be due to a difference of doctrine between upper seat Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism (cf. doctrine that Mahayana is not Buddhism). Further, original scriptures such "Muryo gikyo" (Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings), 「仏説孟蘭盆経」, "Juo-shinko" (Ten Kings (Ten Judges of Hell) belief), "Jikku Kannongyo" that were not written in Indian languages such as Sanskrit and were established in Chinese characters in China and Korea are sometimes considered to be forged scriptures.


Of the Confucius scriptures among shishogokyo (the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, the Nine Chinese Classics), all the scriptures except for "Mencius" are considered to have been edited or selected by Confucius or Shukotan. But many of them were revised or written by later hands. This also applies to the Bible in Christianity and Scriptures in Buddhism. Besides, in the age of Han, when theories of natural calamity, the Way of Yin & Yang and Shini theory prospered, and "Isho" (book of omens appended to Confucian Chinese classics) came to appear to be opposed to the Chinese classics of Confucianism. In the "Isho," which was written in the form of notes to each Chinese classics of Confucianism, the author/compiler was asserted to be Confucius, and the Isho was accepted in those days as the medium through which Confucius supposedly predicted the Ekisei revolution (an ancient Chinese political concept), various natural disasters and more. However, these books were strictly prohibited, as persons of power during each dynasty considered them (I book) to be used by dissident groups. In Sui dynasty, they were not passed down in whole books and provided in fragments or citation forms.

Forged writing in literature

In early-modern times in Europe, when typographical printing was in practical use, forged writings of books by popular authors such as Francois Rabelais and Miguel de Cervantes were already being published. Since these forged writings were published in the same period as the original and their origins were little known, they are generally called "forged writings" rather than "gisho." While these forged writings can be detected relatively easy based on their literary style and inconsistency in vocabulary, "the fifth book" of "Gargantua and Pndagruel " is an example where it is hard to draw a conclusion whether it is a fake or an original even to this day.

These forged writings becomes a problem when they were written by persons who were not related to the original writer. If a literary work is partly added by persons related to the original writer, it would not be called "forged writings" (as for "The Tale of Genji," though this is a sample from ancient Japan, some volumes are doubted to be written by other person than Murasaki Shikibu).
(There are anomalistic cases such as "The Man Who Was Wanted" in Sherlock Holmes Series.)

Moreover, even in case a writer's attribution such as name is fallacious, if it is written by the same person, the work is not usually considered to be forged writings or gisho. Taking William Shakespeare as an example, it has long been advocated that Shakespeare were different individuals, but even those people who take this viewpoint do not consider his works to be gisho. The identities of writers from ancient times such as Aesop and Homer are suspicious, but they are placed outside the discussion as to whether their works are gisho or forged writings. The problems regarding writers and their origins include these various aspects, and they can not be discussed uniformly throughout all ages.

Fallaciousness of origin in fictions

In novels, origins of the documents are often falsified. "Gulliver's Travels," which is considered to be the best work in satirical literature, is composed of fictions throughout whole volumes, but in the novel it is insisted that the novel is based on the experiences of Lemuel Gulliver, an Englishman, a captain and a doctor.

An excellent parody, which is bolstered by biological knowledge, ""Rhinogradentia" as a Rhinogradentia book" takes the style of research book that minutely analyzed the ecology of monkeys in the Hi- yi-yi Islands.

However, like these novels, documents, in which forged origins develop in fiction, are usually not called gisho. Among these examples, there is a unique one such as the "Necronomicon," in which documents do not exist, but its plausible origin is persuasively created.