Ancient Japan

Shinto Creation Stories

Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto and the Creation of the Gods

   Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto stood on the floating bridge of Heaven, and held counsel together, saying, "Is there not a country beneath?"

   Thereupon they thrust down the jewel-spear of Heaven, 1 and groping about found the ocean. The brine which dripped from the point of the spear coagulated and became an island which received the name of Ono-goro-jima. 2

   The two Deities descended and dwelt in this island. Accordingly they wished to become husband and wife together and to produce countries.

   So they made Ono-gorojima the pillar of the center of the land. 3

   Now the male deity turning by the left, and the female deity by the right, they went round the pillar of the land separately. When they met together on one side, the female deity spoke first and said, "How delightful! I have met with a lovely youth."

   The male deity was displeased, and said, "I am a man, and by right should have spoken first. How is it that contrary to this, you, a woman, should have been the first to speak? This was unlucky. Let us go round again."

   Upon this the two deities went back, and having met again, this time the male deity spoke first, and said, "How delightful! I have met a lovely maiden."

   Then he inquired of the female deity, saying, "Is there anything formed in your body? "

   She answered, and said, "In my body there is a place which is the source of femininity."

   The male deity said, "In my body again there is a place which is the source of masculinity. I wish to unite this source place of my body to the source-place of your body."

   Hereupon the male and female first became united as husband and wife.

   Now when the time of birth arrived, first of all the island of Ahaji was reckoned as the placenta, and their minds took no pleasure in it. Therefore it received the name of Ahaji no Shima. 4

   Next there was produced the island of Oho-yamato no Toyo-aki-tsu-shima. 5

   Next they produced the island of Iyo no futa-na, 6 and next the island of Tsukushi. 7 Next the islands of Oki and Sado were born as twins. This is the prototype of the twin-births which sometimes take place among mankind.

   Next was born the island of Koshi, 8 then the island of Oho shima, then the island of Kibi no Ko. 9

   Hence first arose the designation of the Oho-ya-shima 10 country.

   Then the islands of Tsushima and Iki, with the small islands in various parts, were produced by the coagulation of the foam of the salt-water.

   They next produced the sea, then the rivers, and then the mountains. Then they produced Ku-ku-no-chi, 11 the ancestor of the trees, and next the ancestor of herbs, Kaya no hime. 12.

   After this Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto consulted together, saying, "We have now produced the Great eight-island country, 13 with the mountains, rivers, herbs, and trees. Why should we not produce someone who shall be lord of what is below Heaven? They then together produced the Sun Goddess, who was called Oho-hiru-me no muchi. 14

   Called in one writing Ama-terasu no Oho kami. 15

   In one writing she is called Ama-terasu-oho-hiru-me no Mikoto. 16

   The resplendent luster of this child shone throughout all the six quarters. 17 Therefore the two Deities rejoiced, saying, "We have had many children, but none of them have been equal to this wondrous infant. She ought not to be kept long in this land, but we ought of our own accord to send her at once to Heaven, and entrust to her the affairs of Heaven."

   At this time Heaven and Earth were still not far separated, and therefore they sent her up to Heaven by the ladder of Heaven.

   They next produced the Moon-god.

   Called in one writing Tsuki-yumi no Mikoto, or Tsuki yomi no Mikoto. 18

   His radiance was next to that of the Sun in splendor. This God was to be the consort of the Sun-Goddess and to share in her government. They therefore sent him also to Heaven.

   Next they produced the leech-child, which even at the age of three years could not stand upright. They therefore placed it in the rock-camphor-wood boat of Heaven, and abandoned it to the winds.

   Their next child was Sosa no wo no Mikoto. 19

   Called in one writing Kami Sosa no wo no Mikoto or Haya Sosa no wo no Mikoto. 20

   This God had a fierce temper and was given to cruel acts. Moreover he made a practice of continually weeping and wailing. So he brought many of the people of the land to an untimely end. Again he caused green mountains to become withered. Therefore the two Gods, his parents, addressed Sosa no wo no Mikoto, saying, "You are exceedingly wicked and it is not appropriate that you should rule the world. Certainly you must leave far away to the Lands Below." 21

   So they at length expelled him.

Translated by W.G. Aston, Nihongi (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1896),10-14, 18-21

Edited by Richard Hooker



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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-20-97