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Japanese Creation Myth

Japanese Creation Myth

Different people, cultures and religions have described the creation of Earth in their mythology and folklore. The Japanese myth narrates how the universe and its elements were created with an interesting story too.
Maya Pillai
The stories that explain about the creation of the universe and its elements are known as creation myths. These myths are narrations of the supernatural and mytho-religious stories.

According to Japanese version of creation, the Heaven and Earth were not divided. All the elements of the Heaven and the Earth were entwined and mixed together with one germ of life. It is believed that this germ of life mixed everything together until the lighter part rose and the heavier part sank. It so happened that entire earth was covered with a muddy ocean and there was a chaos in the ocean. From this ocean arose a reed, which grew until it reached the sky. This reed was transformed into a god and the place where the head of the reed touched became the Heaven. This god created many gods including the Gods of Creation such as Ame-no-Minaka-Nushi-no-Mikoto (the Deity-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven), Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity), and a third god called Kami-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Deity). Izanagi and Izanami were the gods that were created last. They were the most remarkable of all the gods.

Creation of the Islands of Japan

Many believe it were the gods Izanagi and Izanami who created the islands of Japan. Izanami, the female god, and Izanagi, the male god once stirred the ocean with their jeweled spear until it curdled to become a hard mass of land. Thus the first island of Japan called Onokoro was created. They built a house with a strong central pillar in this island. Both the gods, walked around the pillar in opposite directions until they met face to face. That was when they decided to get married.

Their first-born was a boy, when he was around three years of age, his parents put him in a reed boat. He became Ebisu - the God of the fishermen. Izanagi and Izanami created all kinds of living beings - plants and animals. Later Izanami delivered a beautiful girl child. The gods made her the Sun because she was too beautiful to live on earth. Tsukuyomi , their second daughter became the Moon. They had an unruly son who was sentenced to rule the sea. He is the one who creates the storms. Before giving birth to these gods, Izanami created eight Japanese islands.

Gods Created by Izanami

As a part of Japanese Creation myth it is believed that Izanami gave birth to the God of the Land, Wind and Rain. While she was giving birth to the God of Fire, she was badly injured. She later succumbed to the burns. Her husband slayed the God of Fire out of fury. He went in search of her by calling out her name. But it was in vain. Finally he entered the Land of Gloom in search of her. Here he heard her voice telling him that she had already eaten the fruit of that land and it was too late for her to return. He was not ready to leave her there as they had yet to complete their work of creating the islands.

She told him that she would ask the spirits of the Land of Gloom to relieve her. Till then, he should not try to look for her. After a long period of waiting, Izanagi got tired and made a torch from one of the tooth of his hair comb and went in search of her. He was shocked to see her rotting body with swarms of maggots on it. He also noticed that she was giving birth to the eight Gods of Thunder. The sight revolted him.

When Izanami realized that her husband had not kept his word, she commanded the foul spirits of the Land of Gloom to kill him. However, Izanagi outwitted the spirits by flinging his headdress that turned into grapes. The greedy spirits stopped to nourish on the grapes instead of pursuing him. Later he threw down his comb, which grew into bamboo shoots.

As he was nearing the border between the Land of dead and the Land of Living, his dead wife, Izanami, caught up with him. But he was too quick for her, on crossing over to the Land of Living; he pushed a huge boulder over the mouth of the Land of dead. It is believed that this created the permanent demarcation between life and death.

There are many such stories about creation myth and even today, Japanese believe that Izanami rule the Land of Gloom and Death, while the Land of Living is ruled by Izanagi.