Before the universe came into existence, everything was a chaos. It was sunk into a shapeless and unimaginably infinite and vast matter filled with darkness and emptiness. Later there were sounds that indicated the movement of particles. And with this, the lightest and the transparent rose up and formed the Takamagahara (the Plain of High Heaven) and the heavy and opaque gradually subsided and became the earth. In Takamagahara the first Kami ( the spirits that are worshiped in the religion of Shinto ) Amenominakanushi ( Ame-no-minakanushi-no-mikoto (the Deity-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven)) came into existence. And next the Heaven gave birth to Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity) and Kammi-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Deity). These were the three primal Kami and Creating Deities of Japanese mythology.
After the formation of Heaven and Earth and Kotoamatsukami (the first gods) seven generations of kami (Kamiyonanayo) came into existence. They were:
- U-hiji-ni and Su-hiji-ni
- Tsunu-guhi and Iku-guhi
- Ō-to-no-ji and Ō-to-no-be
- Omo-daru and Aya-kashiko-ne and
- Izanagi and Izanami
Izanami’s Death and The Creation of the Islands and Deities:
Izanagi (He who invites) and Izanami (She who invites) were then ordered to solidify the earth and create the island of Japan. To help them, they were given the jeweled spear called Ama-no-Nuboko. They came to “The Floating Bridge of Heaven” and started stirring the water with the spear. When they lifted the spear out of the water, a droplet fell from its tip and became an island, the first solid land on Earth. The two gods then descended on to the island and built the Heavenly August Pillar and the Hall of Eight Fathoms for their wedding.
Izanagi and Izanami By Kobayashi Eitaku c. 1885
The deities then agreed to marry and meet on the other side of the pillar. They started to round the pillar in opposite directions. Therefore, the male Deity turned to the left and the female Deity to the right and when they met each other coming around, Izanami, the female Deity exclaimed: “How delightful it is to meet so handsome a youth!” To which the male deity replied: “How delightful I am to have fallen in with such a lovely maiden!” They consummated their marriage.
Izanami bore a child but their first born was a deformed creature called Hiruko or a “Leech Child”, whom the couple immediately abandoned at the sea on a boat made of reeds. Their second child was a floating island, which they also did not accept as their own. The two deities returned to heaven to ask the heavenly Deities for the cause of their misfortune. The Gods decided that the child had been born imperfect as a result of Izanami having spoken first during the courting ritual. So the Gods circled the pillar once again and this time Izanagi spoke first saying “How delightful to meet so beautiful a maiden!” And to which Izanami responded ,“How happy I am, that I should meet such a handsome youth!”
Izanami subsequently gave birth to eight main islands and six minor islands as well as the Gods and Goddesses of waterfalls, mountains, trees, plants and the wind. But while giving birth to the God of Fire, Kagutsuchi, Izanami was so badly burned that she died. However, even while dying she continued to bear more and more Gods. And eventually, she disappeared to Yomi, the land of the dead.
Izanagi became desperately upset over the death of his faithful spouse and sliced off Kagutsuchi’s head and even more Deities came off.
Journey to Yomi: The Land of Death:
Longing for his deceased wife Izanagi determined to follow her to Yomi (The Land Of Death). But by the time he arrived Izanami already consumed the food of the Yomi. Although she went to ask the Gods of the deaths for the permission to leave, she asked Izanagi not to enter in the hall for any reason. But Izanagi grew impatient and rushed into the hall of dead. He broke the end of a comb in his hair and used it as a torch and he saw Izanami. But she was horribly transformed into a corpse. she was squirming with maggots and eight thunder Deities had taken up residence in her body.
In disgust and terror, Izanagi turned to flee pursued by the spurned corpse of his wife along with the hags of Yomi, numerous thunder deities and warriors. But Izanagi was somehow able to escape them employing various magic tricks. When he finally reached the outer edge he pushed a huge rock into the passage that separated Yomi from the land of living. Izanami told Izanagi that in punishment of his behavior she would suffocate 1000 people each day. To which Izanagi replied that he’d make sure that 1500 people were born each day.
Izanagi then purified himself by the river. As he removed his cloths a lot of deities came into existence from them. Finally when he washed his left eye, Amaterasu-ōmikami: the sun Goddess brought into existence and from his right eyes born Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto: the moon God and from his nose Takehaya Susanoo-no-Mikoto: the storm God was born. And Izanagi decided to divide his kingdom equally among these three Kami.
Featured Photo from Pexels