By indexer
2 years ago

Izanagi, Izanami and the birth of Japan

Every ancient civilization has its own creation myth – its story about how the world and its own people started out. Given that they are all myths, with absolutely no relation to reality, no one myth can claim precedence over any other.

This is the mythical story about how the island nation of Japan came to be.

In the beginning, there was nothing except sea and sky. A reed grew out of the sea and turned into a cloud, this being the first god. Other reeds then sprouted and became cloud-gods.

The youngest gods were a male named Izanagi No Mikoto and a female named Izanami No Mikoto.

Izanagi saw no point in just floating above the sea and wondered if he could find something solid to stand on. He plunged his spear into the sea, searching for a point of contact, but was out of luck. However, when he withdrew his spear a drop of water fell back and turned into an island.

Izanagi and Izanami used a rainbow to descend to the island, which they decorated with trees and flowers. When Izanagi thrust his spear into the centre of the island a large palace was created.

The two young gods then decided that they could create more islands. They were inspired by the mating dance of two small birds and realized that they needed to do something along the same lines.

Their dance consisted of walking round the island in opposite directions until they met again.

Izanami spoke first. “Good day”, she said. “You are a very handsome young man.”

Izanagi replied in similar vein. “Good day”, he said. “You are a very beautiful young woman.”

This was enough to cause Izanami to fall pregnant, and she duly gave birth to her first island child. However, this was nothing like as beautiful and fertile as the original island and the couple had no choice but to push it away into the sea. They sought advice from the older gods as to why things had gone wrong.

“You made a fundamental mistake”, they were told. “You allowed the woman to speak before the man did. Unless the man speaks first, there will always be bad luck”.

So Izanagi and Izanami went through their courtship dance again. This time, when they met after walking round the island in opposite directions, Izanagi spoke first.

“Good day”, he said. “You are a very beautiful young woman.”

Izanami replied. “Good day”, she said. “You are a very handsome young man.”

This time, when Izanami gave birth, she became the mother of eight beautiful islands, which formed the country of Japan.

There is more to the Japanese creation myth than this, involving the births of other gods, the sun and the moon, and the emperors of Japan. However, this story of the creation of Japan does contain one very interesting factor that can be seen in other creation myths including that of Judaism as found in the Book of Genesis. This is the god-given dominance of the male over the female. One can only assume that these myths were first invented by men, not women!