Japanese Mythology

Topics: Japanese mythology, Amaterasu, Izanagi Pages: 9 (2767 words) Published: October 8, 1999
According to Japanese mythology, the world begins with the birth of seven deities. These seven deities arise and then pass away in what the Japanese call the, "plain of high heaven." After this, five more couples were born, the last named, Izanagi and Izanami, who were ordered by their peers to consolidate the earth, which at this point was a chaos of muddy water. Izanagi and Izanami stood on the bridge of high heaven, thought to be the rainbow, and dipped their jeweled spear in the murky water below. When pulling the spear out of a piece of mud dropped of the tip and is said to have formed the island of Onogoro.

Izanagi and Izanami then moved down to the island, built a house and consummated a child. The first child was born a misfit and was abandoned in a boat in the reeds. Their second child, the island of Awa, was considered to be a misfit also. Soon the couple learnt what was being done form the other deities and reckoned their problems, Izanagi spoke first, then gave birth to the eight main islands of Japan.

This couple had many more children till Izanami died while giving birth to her last child, The God of Fire. More bodies sprang up from her decomposing body, and even more sprung up from Izanagi's tears of sorrow. So mad, Izanagi cut off the God of Fire's head, and from the blood and limbs, sprung yet more divine beings.

Meanwhile, Izanami had gone to the underworld, where her husband called for her return, she told Izanagi to wait in patience, but he could wait no more and went to Hades. He found his wife, a hideous rotten heap, and fled from the underworld, blocking the entrance with a rock.

Once out of the Underworld Izanagi felt he had to wash his body from the impurities of the underworld. In a river he washed himself, from his clothes were born more deities. The God of Wind, Susa-no-wo, sprang from his nose, from the right eye came the God of the moon, and from his left eye, Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess, was born who is the principle deity of Japan and is said to be a direct ancestor of the Imperial House.

The Sun Goddess and her brother

Susa-no-wo had refused to obey his father and was banished from the high heavens. Before leaving he wanted to say goodbye to his sister, The Sun Goddess. His sister was very untrustful of her brother and asked Susa-no-wo to prove his good faith in her. He offered to bring forth male deities by a miracle; if they should turn out to be female, then she could consider him insincere. Susa-no-wo then produced five males from a string of jewels, which his sister had given to him earlier. While this was happening Amaterasu Sun-Goddess) took her brother sword broke it in three and crunching these in her mouth, spat out three goddesses. These five males and eight females become to be known as the ancestors of the highest Japanese nobility.

So excited over his success, Susa-no-wo became to commit various acts of mischief, and at one point finally scared his sister, the Sun Goddess. Amaterasu so scared retired herself to a cave on earth, thus depriving the world of light.

All the gods were in despair. They put together a strategy to get her out of the cave by arousing her curiosity by a comic dance and a mirror, which finally lured her from the cave. Susa-no-wo was punished for what he had down and was banished from heaven, again. Before he finally left he killed the Goddess of Food, whose limbs are said to have been turned into the seeds of useful plants.

Once out of the heavens, Amaterasu began to pacify the celestial realm. Once concluding this she turned to the earth, the Islands of Japan. After three absorptive attempts to establish her rule she sends her grandson Ninigi down with eight of his companions to assume the power on earth. Ninigi descended to Kyushu and married a beautiful girl there. He had with him three sacred insignia of imperial power, given to him by Amaterasu: the mirror, Kagami, the sword found by...

Cited: Campbell, Joseph. Oriental Mythology: The Masks of Gods, Penguin Books, New
York, NY, 1976
Dorson, R.M. Folk Legends of Japan. Charles Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont, and
Tokyo, 1962
Piggott, Juliet. Japanese Mythology. Hamlyn Publishing, New York, NY, 1975
Webster, R.G. Japan: from the old to the new. S.W. Patridge & Co., 1905, 1978
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