Japanese mythology

An interesting aspect of Japanese mythology is that it explains the origin of the current royal family, and gave them deity until recently, the end of the Pacific War.

Mainstream Japanese myths, as generally recognized today, are based on the Kojiki and some complementary books. The Kojiki is the oldest recognized book of myths, legends, and history of Japan. The Shintoshu explains origins of Japanese deities from a Buddhism position. The Hotuma Tutaye records a substantially different version of mythology.

Table of contents
1 Introduction (1-2)
2 Creation of the world
3 Yomi, a hades (4)
4 Sun, Moon, and Wind
5 Iwayado, a cave (6-8)
6 Eight-prong dragon (9)
7 Prince Ohonamuji
8 Cession (17-18)
9 Installation (19-20)
10 Daughters of Yamatsumi
11 Palace under sea (21-22)
12 Legends (23-)

Introduction (1-2)

Creation of the world

Izanaki (male deity) and Izanami (female deity) churned the sea to made solid Onogoro island. They came down to the island. They mixed there and bore many islands and deities. The first two were badly made. Then ooyashima (great eight islands):

(Note that Hokkaido, Chishima, and Okinawa was not a part of Japan in this times.)

Then six smaller islands. Then dozens of deities including Kagutsuchi, the incarnation of fire. Izanami was killed by a burn of Kagutsuchi. Izanaki detested Kagutsuchi and killed him. Another dozen of deities were born from the corpse of Kagutsuchi, including Mikazuchi, the incarnation of lightning.

Yomi, a hades (4)

Izanaki lamented his dearest and made a travel to Yomi, the land of night, the land under ground, the world of the deads.

There he saw decayed figure of his wife, flew back, and divorced her. "My dear," she cursed him, "each day I will kill one thousand of your peoples." . "My dear," he replyed, "I will make them bear one thousand and five hundreds." Hence, birth and death.

Sun, Moon, and Wind

After he came back from Yomi, Izanaki bathed to wach out dirties. At this time, dozens of deities born, including

Amaterasu is commonly known to be female, however, the Kojiki gives little clue about her sex. (Early Japanese language does not use pronous like he or she.) Some of the later books, notably the Hotuma, allege she was male.

Iwayado, a cave (6-8)

Susanowo was rude and wild. When he disowned by his further, he went to Takamanohara to bade farewell to his sister. But Amatarasu afraid he came to make harm to her. She attired herself manfully before meet her brother. "What purpose do you come here for?" Amaterasu asked. "To say farewell," Susanowo answered. She did not believe his word.

To prove faith, Amaterasu and Susanowo showed their virtue each other.

Sasanowo won the game and became haughty. He went from bad to worse. Finally, Amaterasu hid into the Iwayado to evade from her brother. As the incarnation of the sun disappered to the cave, darkness covered the world.

Eight-prong dragon (9)

Prince Ohonamuji

Princess Yakami (11-12)

Princess Suseri (13)

Princess Nunakawa (14)

Cession (17-18)

Installation (19-20)

Amaterasu ordered her grandson Ninigi to rule over the ground. She gave him the three treasures:

  • the beads chain of Yasakani (now situated in the royal house),
  • the mirror of Yata (now enshrined in Isuzu, Ise), and
  • the sword of Kusanagi (now enshrined in Atsuta, Wowari).
The first two were what used to lure Amaterasu out of Iwayado. The other is found in the eight-prong dragon. Among three, the mirror is the token of Amaterasu.

Ninigi and his company went down to the ground at Himuka, there he founded his palace.

Daughters of Yamatsumi

Ninigi saw princess Konohana Sakuya, a daughter of Yamatsimi, and fell into love. Ninigi asked Yamatsumi for his daughter. The father delighted and offered both of his daughters, Iwanaga and Sakuya. But Ninigi married only Sakuya and refused Iwanaga.

"I blessed Iwanaga with eternity and Sakuya with prosperity", Yamatsumi said in regret, "but refusing Iwanaga, your life will be limited from now." Hence, Ninigi and his descendants became mortal.

Sakuya conveived by a night and Ninigi doubt her. To prove legitimacy of her babies, Sakuya swore by her luck and took a peril; she set fire to her room when she bore three babies. By this, Ninigi knew her chastity. Three babies are Hoderi, Hosuseri, and Howori.

Palace under sea (21-22)

Legends (23-)

First Emperor

The first legendary emperor of Japan is Iware, posthumous alias Junmu. He established the throne in 660 BCE. His pedigree is summarised as follows.

  • Iware is a son of Ugaya and Tamayori.
  • Ugaya is a son of Howori and Toyotama.
  • Howori is a son of Ninigi and Sakuya.
  • Ninigi is a son of Oshihomimi and Akidzushi.
  • Oshihomimi is born from an ornament of Amaterasu.
  • Amaterasu is born from the left eye of Izanaki.
  • Izanaki is born of his own accord.

Conquest of the east (23-26)

Yamato Takeru (44-48)




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