Izanagi and Izanami

In Japanese mythology the two deities Izanagi (The Male Who Invites) and Izanami (The Female Who Invites) are the creators of Japan and its gods. In one important myth, they descend to Yomitsu Kuni, the underworld and land of darkness. Stories about Izanagi and Izanami are told in two works from the A . D . 700S, the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and the Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan).

According to legend, after their birth Izanagi and Izanami stood on the floating bridge of heaven and stirred the primeval ocean with a jeweled spear. When they lifted the spear, the drops that fell back into the water formed the first solid land, an island called Onogoro. Izanagi and Izanami descended to the island and became husband and wife. Their first child was deformed, and the other gods said it was because Izanami spoke before her husband at their marriage ceremony.

The couple performed another wedding ceremony, this time correctly. Izanami soon gave birth to eight lovely children, who became the islands of Japan. Izanagi and Izanami then created many gods and goddesses to represent the mountains, valleys, waterfalls, streams, winds, and other natural features of Japan. However, during the birth of Kagutsuchi, the fire god, Izanami was badly burned. As she lay dying, she continued to create gods and goddesses, and still other deities emerged from the tears of the grief-stricken Izanagi.

When Izanami died, she went to Yomi-tsu Kuni. Izanagi decided to go there and bring his beloved back from the land of darkness and death. Izanami greeted Izanagi from the shadows as he approached the entrance to Yomi. She warned him not to look at her and said that she would try to arrange for her release from the gods of Yomi. Full of desire for his wife, Izanagi lit a torch and looked into Yomi. Horrified to see that Izanami was a rotting corpse, Izanagi fled.

Angry that Izanagi had not respected her wishes, Izanami sent hideous female spirits, eight thunder gods, and an army of fierce warriors to chase him. Izanagi managed to escape and blocked the pass between Yomi and the land of the living with a huge boulder. Izanami met him there, and they broke off their marriage.

deity god or goddess

underworld land of the dead

primeval from the earliest times

Izanagi felt unclean because of his contact with the dead, and he took a bath to purify himself. A number of gods and goddesses, both good and evil, emerged from his discarded clothing as Izanagi bathed. The sun goddess Amaterasu appeared from his left eye, the moon god Tsuki-yomi appeared from his right eye, and Susano-ô came from his nose. Proud of these three noble children, Izanagi divided his kingdom among them.

See also Amaterasu ; Japanese Mythology ; Susano-Ô ; Underworld .

User Contributions:

Carah Kim
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There are different gruops that recreate with as much accuracy as they can the ancient polytheistic religions. It's not dominant by any means, but it exists. Try doing a Google search. There are also many Pagans and Wiccans that invoke the ancient Goddesses and Gods.

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