The book, Heroes, Creators and Custodians oj Japanese Antiquity, is a series of biographies of the 4th-llth centuries' outstanding Japanese personalities.
Each historical period is represented by persons whose life and work reflect the most typical features of its culture and the psychological changes in personality. Much emphasis is on cultural continuity and mechanisms involved therein.
The chapters of the book are dedicated to an epic hero (Ya-mato Takeru: the Hero-Like Reality of the Character), statesmen (Prince Shotoku: A Statesman Devoted to Buddha, Sugawara Michizane: A Deification Tragedy), poets (Man'yoshu Poets: Poems for Society and a Society for Poems, Ki-no Tsurayuki: A Poet or A Poetaster?), Buddhist monks (Dokyo: The War and Peace of Two Theocracies, Kukai: Superb Calligraphy for Esoteric Policy), Buddhist legend makers and heroes of Buddhist legends (Buddhist Preachers: Wonder Makers), the author of the famous Tale of Genji (Murasaki-shikibu: a Non-Wasted Gift).
Each of the characters in the book made a notable contribution to culture of his country. Culture is understood as a dynamic interaction of soeio-historical and personal factors.
The author shows the turns, often dramatic, in the destinies of his heroes and eventually recreates the psychological background of a respective epoch.
The book analyses the ideas of time and space, life and death, ethic and aesthetic, virtue and sin, oi the human ideal, etc., and details the breakdown of the sanguinal kinship and the evolvement of medieval personality.
The book draws on medieval sources (historical, poetic, prose writings and religious texts). Therefore, one of the major topics of the book is the problem of text (the methods for its generation, functioning and perception). The book maps out approaches to the analysis of Japanese literature as a complex of semantically different texts united by common typological features.