In the history of language study in Japan, there are two main streams: foreign language study and an inquiry into the mother tongue. For both types of language study, the philological and exegetical interpretation of texts had generally been the central approach for many centuries, particularly in the koku-gaku movement - a fierce Nativist reaction against the dominance of foreign studies. Through the textual and exegetical approach to the Japanese classical literature and ancient writings, the koku-gaku scholars not only elucidated the language and the world of the ancient Japanese people, but also reevaluated their mono-no-aware (sensitivity in literary creation) and insisted on a return to yamato-gokoro (original Japanese ways of thinking) to refute the claims of foreign influence for the purpose of identifying and appreciating traditional value of Japanese mentality and morality. Kogu-gaku scholars' attitude towards language study parallels the approach of German philologists of the 19th century.
- History of linguistics in Japan
- Koku-gaku movement
- Language awareness
- Motoori Norinaga
- National identity