A Brief Comparison of Heroes in Chinese Mythologies and in Japanese Mythologies

Topics: Nihon Shoki, Japan, Shinto Pages: 13 (2795 words) Published: April 3, 2013
A Brief Comparison of Heroes in Chinese Mythologies and in Japanese Mythologies 1 Abstract
Traditional mythologies are closely related to religions, a certain religion often depends on its myths to convince people and thus survive. Mythologies can be created and modified by religious groups.1In this paper, I compare the heroes in the Japanese mythologies, mainly the Kojiki2 and the Fudoki3 and the Chinese mythologies, mainly the Shan Hai Jing4 and Huainanzi5 and have found that the common things between heroes in Chinese myths and that in Japanese myths is that they revolted against authority, conquered the nature, and protected people from monsters. The reasons for these common features may lie in the similar religious beliefs that ancient Chinese and Japanese form in the progress of civilization. However, I have also found some features in different: 1) the Chinese heroes tend to be more persistent and the Japanese heroes are more courageous and victorious 2) The Japanese heroes sometimes rely on luck while the Chinese heroes never do so. Though some are really confusing, these differences may cast a light on the differences of tradition religious beliefs in China and Japan. 2 Common points of heroes in Chinese mythologies and Japanese mythologies 2.1 Conquering the nature

In Chinese mythologies, there are many heroes who conquered the nature. For example, in the myth of “Nü repaired the wall of heaven”6, there is such a description:”In the past time when the earth was wa

cracked, the sky was broken, the fire always burned and never vanished, the lands were always flooded and people were frequently preyed by beasts, Nü refined the stone of five-color and by which she wa

repaired the wall of heaven, killed the black dragon to benefit the Chinese people and put an end to the great flood.”7Also in the story of Shennong, he ate countless herbal and hence figured out and taught the ancient Chinese the basic herbal medicine8. What’s more, Yu conquered the flood and was thereafter respected by people.9

In the Japanese mythologies, there are also stories about conquering the nature. For instance, according to “Nihon Shoki”, lands of Japan was just like the oil floating on the water so Izanagi and Izanami stood on “the heavenly floating bridge” and tried to stop the lands from floating. They used


Aron,Differences between religion and mythologies ,
http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-religion-and-vs-mythology/ 2
Huainanzi,“往古之時,四極廢,九州裂;天不兼複,地不周載;火鏿炎而不滅,水浩洋而不息;猛獸食顓民,鷙鳥 攫老弱。於是女媧煉五色石以補蒼天,斷硆足以立四極,殺黑龍以濟冀州,積蘆灰以止淫水。蒼天補,四極正,淫水涸, 冀州平。狡蟲死,顓民生;背方州,抱圓天” 《淮南子·覽冥篇》 8

Huainanzi, “古者民茹草飲水,采樹木之實,食蠃蠪之肉,時多疾病、毒傷之害。於是神農乃始教民播種五穀,相土

地宜燥濕肥磽高下,嘗百草之滋味,水泉之甘苦,令民知所辟就。當此之時,一日而遇七十毒。”《淮南子》 9

Mengzi, “當堯之時,天下猶未平。洪水橫流,氾濫於天下。草木暢茂,禽獸繁殖,五榖不登,禽獸逼人。獸蹄鳥跡

之道交於中國。堯獨憂之,舉舜而敷治焉。舜使益掌火,益烈山澤而焚之,禽獸逃匿。禹疏九河,瀹濟漯,而注諸海; 決汝漢,排淮泗,而注之江;然後中國可得而食也。當是時也,禹八年於外,三過其門而不入。 ” 《孟子.滕文公上》

Japanese Religious Tradition 1
Assoc. Professor Steven Trenson

ZHOU Guowei
Faculty of Economics

Amenonuboko10 to stir the ocean. When they lifted up the spear, a drop of water become an island and finally fixed the lands of Japan.11 Also, according to the “Fudoki of Izumo-no-Kuni12”, a deity called Yatsumizuo-Mitsunu-no-Mikoto13 thought that Izumo-no-Kuni was too small in size so he suggested increasing the size. To do so, he found a headland in Silla, a nation across the sea and dragged it with a slope towards Japan. This headland became what is now called Misaki14. After that, he dragged many islands from Koshinokuni15, Sakinokuni16 and another Kuni. Hence the Izumo-no-Kuni become larger. I think there is an easy explanation for this common achievement: in the ancient time productivity as well as technology is so undeveloped that people frequently suffer from the nature, and therefore in the traditional religious beliefs, those that can conquer the nature are only deities worshiped by people.


References: 3 FANG Tao(note), 山海经 [San Hai Jing] (ancient Chiense version), Zhonghua Publishing House,
version), 1990
8 OO no Yasumaro, 古 事记 [Kojiki] (modern Chinese version), People’s Literature Publishing
version), Peoples Literature Publishing House, 1978
10 OGIHARA Chizuru, 出雲国風土記 [Fudoki of Izumo-no-Kuni] (Japanese version), 1996
11 WAN Lihua(note), LAN Xu(note), 孟子 [Mencious], Zhonghua Publishign House, 2006
12 Wikipedia of “牛郎织女”[Niulang and Zhinv]
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