Izanagi (Japanese: イザナギ, recorded in the Kojiki as 伊邪那岐 and in the Nihon Shoki as 伊弉諾) is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and his name in the Kojiki is roughly translated to as "he-who-invites". He is also known as Izanagi-no-mikoto or Izanagi-no-Ōkami.

Kobayashi Izanami and Izanagi
Searching the Seas with the Tenkei (天瓊を以て滄海を探るの図 Tenkei o motte sōkai o saguru no zu). Painting by Kobayashi Eitaku, 1880-90 (MFA, Boston). Izanagi with the spear Amenonuhoko to the right, Izanami to the left.

Accounts in mythology

Izanagi and Izanami

He with his spouse and younger sister Izanami gave birth to the many islands of Japan (kuniumi), and begat numerous deities of Shinto (kamiumi). But she died after giving birth to the fire-god Kagu-tsuchi. Izanagi executed the fire god with the "ten-grasp sword" (Totsuka-no-Tsurugi). Afterwards, he paid his wife a visit in Yomi-no-kuni (the Underworld) in the hopes of retrieving her. But she had partaken of food cooked in the furnace of the Underworld, rendering her return impossible. Izanagi betrayed his promise not to look at her, and lit up a fire, only to behold her in her monstrous and hellish state. To avenge her shame, she dispatched the lightning god Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami (Raijin) and the horrible hag Yomotsu-shikome to chase after him. Izanagi escaped, but the goddess vowed to kill a thousand of his people every day. Izanagi retorted that a thousand and five hundred will be born every day.[1][2][3]

Cleansing and birth of Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, and Susanoo

In the cleansing right after his return, he beget Amaterasu (the sun goddess) from his left eye, Tsukuyomi (the moon god) from his right eye and Susanoo (the storm god) from his nose.[4]


Izanagi's visit to his wife Izanami in Yomi-no-kuni somewhat parallels the Greek Orpheus's visit to Eurydice in the underworld,[5] but a more striking resemblance is his wife's inability to return after eating the food in hell, matched by Persephone of Greek myth.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Phillipi, Donald L. (1969). Kojiki. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. p. 66.
  2. ^ Chamberlain, Sir Basil Hall (1882). "A Translation of the 'Ko-ji-ki', or Records of Ancient Matters". Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. VI, Section IX. Yokohama. p. 86.; Reedited in Horne, Charles Francis, ed. (1917). The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East: With an Historical Survey and Descriptions. 13. Parke. pp. 8–61. Wikisource: Wikisource-logo.svg ""2.1 The Land of Hades".
  3. ^ Aston, William George (1896). Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697. 1. London: Japan Society of London. pp. 24-.
  4. ^ Melvyn Bragg (22 Sep 2011). "In Our Time". www.bbc.co.uk (Podcast). British Broadcasting Corporation. Event occurs at 17:14. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  5. ^ Sweet, Charles Filkins (1919). New life in the oldest empire. Macmillan. pp. 1–7.
  6. ^ Sansom, George Bailey (1919). A History of Japan: To 1334. Macmillan. p. 30.
Age of the Gods

In Japanese mythology, the Age of the Gods (神代, Kami-yo/Jindai) is the period preceding the accession of Jimmu, the first Emperor of Japan. The kamiyo myths are chronicled in the "upper roll" (Kamitsumaki) of the Kojiki and in the first and second chapters of the Nihon Shoki. The reigns of Emperor Jimmu and the subsequent Emperors are considered the Human Age (人代, Hitoyo).


Amenonuhoko (天沼矛 or 天之瓊矛 or 天瓊戈, "heavenly jeweled spear") is the name given to the spear in Shintoism used to raise the primordial land-mass, Onogoro-shima, from the sea. It is often represented as a naginata.According to the Kojiki, Shinto's genesis gods Izanagi and Izanami were responsible for creating the first land. To help them do this, they were given a spear decorated with jewels, named Ame-no (heavenly) nu-hoko (jewelled spear), by older heavenly gods. The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi ("floating bridge of heaven"), and churned the sea below with the naginata. When drops of salty water fell from the tip, they formed into the first island, Onogoro-shima. Izanagi and Izanami then descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.

Izanagi Plate

The Izanagi Plate (named after the Shinto god Izanagi) was an ancient tectonic plate, which began subducting beneath the Okhotsk Plate 130–100 Ma years ago. The rapid plate motion of the Izanagi Plate caused north-west Japan and the outer zone of south-west Japan to drift northward. High-pressure metamorphic rocks were formed at the eastern margin of the drifting land mass in the Sanbagawa metamorphic belt, while low-pressure metamorphic rocks were formed at its western margin in the Abukuma metamorphic belt. At approximately 95 Ma, the Izanagi Plate was completely subducted and replaced by the western Pacific Plate, which also subducted in the north-western direction. Subduction-related magmatism took place near the Ryoke belt. No marked tectonics occurred in the Abunkuma belt after the change of the subducted plate.

The discovery of an extinct Jurassic–Cretaceous spreading system in the north-west Pacific led to the introduction of the extinct Kula Plate in 1972. The Izanagi Plate was subsequently introduced in 1982 to explain the geometry of this spreading system. Knowledge of the now-subducted Izanagi Plate is limited to Mesozoic magnetic lineations on the Pacific Plate that preserve the record of this subduction.

Izanagi Shrine

Izanagi Shrine (Izanagi Jingu, 伊弉諾神宮) is a Shinto shrine located in Awaji, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. It is dedicated to the kami Izanagi and Izanami. It was formerly an Imperial shrine of the first rank (官幣大社, Kanpei-taisha) under the Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines. It was the ichinomiya of Awaji province.


In Japanese mythology, Izanami no mikoto (伊弉冉尊/伊邪那美命, meaning "she who invites") is a goddess of both creation and death, as well as the former wife of the god Izanagi-no-mikoto. She is also referred to as Izanami no kami.

Japanese mythology

Japanese mythology embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally-based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami (Japanese for "god(s)" or "spirits"). This article will discuss only the typical elements present in Asian mythology, such as cosmogony, important deities, and the best-known Japanese stories.

Japanese myths, as generally recognized in the mainstream today, are based on the Kojiki, the Nihon Shoki, and some complementary books. The Kojiki, or "Record of Ancient Matters", is the oldest surviving account of Japan's myths, legends and history. The Shintōshū describes the origins of Japanese deities from a Buddhist perspective, while the Hotsuma Tsutae records a substantially different version of the mythology.One notable feature of Japanese mythology is its explanation of the origin of the Imperial Family, which has been used historically to assign godhood to the imperial line. The title of the Emperor of Japan, tennō (天皇), means "heavenly sovereign".

Note that Japanese is not transliterated consistently across all sources (see spelling of proper nouns).


In Japanese mythology, the story of the birth of the gods (神産み, Kamiumi) occurs after the creation of Japan (Kuniumi) and refers to the birth of the kami descendants of Izanagi and Izanami.


In Japanese mythology, the Kamiyo-nanayo (神世七代, lit. "Seven Generations of the Age of the Gods") are the seven generations of kami that emerged after the formation of heaven and earth.According to the Kojiki, these deities appeared after the Kotoamatsukami. The first two generations were hitorigami while the five that followed came into being as male-female pairs of kami: male deities and sisters that were at the same time married couples. In total the Kamiyonanayo consist of 12 deities in this chronicle.In contrast, the chronicle Nihon Shoki, points out that this group was the first to appear after the creation of the universe. It also states that the first three generations of deities were hitorigami and that the other generations of deities were pairs of the opposite sex. Finally the Nihon Shoki uses a different spelling for the names of all deities.

The last generation formed by Izanagi and Izanami were the couple that would be responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago (Kuniumi) and would engender other deities (Kamiumi).


Kukurihime no Kami (菊理媛神), also Kukurihime no Mikoto (菊理媛命), is a Japanese Shinto goddess venerated at Shirayama Hime Shrine in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture. She is mentioned in Nihongi, but not in Kojiki. She is also venerated at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and at Yōrō Shrine in Gifu Prefecture. Kukuri appears very briefly during the myth of Yomi, after Izanagi used the great god Michikaeshi Ōkami to block the entry to Yomi no kuni. Her words are praised by Izanagi, but what she said to him was not recorded (or erased), which is strange, since Kukurihime is worshipped in 3000 shrines across Japan, and was latter merged with Kannon Bosatsu.


In Japanese mythology, Kuniumi (国産み, literally "birth or formation of the country") is the traditional and legendary history of the emergence of the Japanese archipelago, of islands, as narrated in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. According to this legend, after the creation of Heaven and Earth, the gods Izanagi and Izanami were given the task of forming a series of islands that would become what is now Japan. In Japanese mythology, these islands make up the known world. The creation of Japan is followed by the creation of the gods (kamiumi).


Kuraokami (闇龗), Okami (龗), or Okami no kami (淤加美神) is a legendary Japanese dragon and Shinto deity of rain and snow. In Japanese mythology, the sibling progenitors Izanagi and Izanami gave birth to the islands and gods of Japan. After Izanami died from burns during the childbirth of the fire deity Kagu-tsuchi, Izanagi was enraged and killed his son. Kagutsuchi's blood or body, according to differing versions of the legend, created several other deities, including Kuraokami.


Ne-no-kuni (根の国, lit. "Land of roots; Land of origin") or Soko-tsu-ne-no-kuni (底根之國, lit. "Distant land of roots") in the Nihon Shoki, also called Ne-no-kata-su-kuni (根之堅洲國, lit. "Borderland of roots) or Haha-no-kuni (妣國, lit. "Land of my late mother") in the Kojiki, refers to a netherworld in Japanese mythology. It is sometimes considered to be identical to Yomi another netherworld in the myths as well as Tokoyo-no-kuni (常世国, lit. "Eternal land"). However, there is no clear consensus on the relationship between these three realms.The god Susanoo is described as the ruler of Ne-no-kuni. There are differing accounts on how he assumed this position:

According to the Kojiki when Izanagi tasked his children with the rule over the various realms: Amaterasu got the "Plain of the High Heaven" (Takama-ga-hara), Tsukuyomi got the "Dominion of the Night" (Yoru-no-wosu-kuni), and Susanoo got the "Sea Plain" (海原, Una-bara). However, Susanoo ignored this command and kept crying over the loss of his dead mother Izanami, such that his weeping lead to death and destruction. As Susanoo wished, Izanagi expelled him to be near his mother in Ne-no-kata-su-kuni. In the previous episodes about Izanami's death this land is called Yomi.

The Nihon Shoki mentions Ne-no-kuni in passing when describing an episode where Susanoo was banished from Takama-ga-hara for various evil acts he committed, and went to a place called (Soko-tsu-)Ne-no-kuni.According to the Kojiki when Ōkuninushi visited Ne-no-kuni and insulted Susanoo he was submitted to overcome three ordeals, one being described to sleep in a house infested with snakes, centipedes and wasps. This is sometimes taken as another hint that Ne-no-kuni is a subterranean realm. One explanation of the myth contrasts the trials of Ōkuninushi to a symbolic death through rites of initiation that cause one to become reborn into a new life. In this story, death doesn't pollute, it regenerates. The land of the dead also contains the forces of life, tama.The Michiae no matsuri (道饗祭) norito is an ancient Shinto prayer asking the gods to prevent the evil beings from Ne-no-kuni-Soko-no-kuni (根國底國) to do any harm. The Minatsuki no tsugomori no ōharae (no norito) (六月晦大祓[祝詞]), also short Ōharae no kotoba (大祓詞), which is performed in the great purification (harae) ceremony of the sixth month locates Ne-no-kuni-Soko-no-kuni in the "Great Sea Plain" (大海原, Ō-una-bara), i.e. the ocean.Yanagita Kunio compared Ne no Kuni to the Niraikanai of the Ryukyuan religion. This paradisaical land is situated beyond the seas.


Raijin (雷神), also known as Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami, Kaminari-sama, and Raiden-sama, is a god of lightning, thunder and storms in Japanese mythology and the Shinto religion. The name 'Raijin' is derived from the Japanese words kaminari (雷, meaning thunder) and kami (神, meaning god). Raijin is typically depicted with fierce and aggressive facial expressions, standing atop a cloud, and is shown beating on drums. The drums are often shown to have the symbol tomoe drawn on them. Raijin is often depicted as a protector and/or warrior figure within Japanese temples and shrines.

Samurai Shodown

Samurai Shodown (Samurai Spirits in Japan) is a fighting game series by SNK. In Japan, the name of the series is officially in katakana, but is often written in kanji (侍魂, samurai tamashii), with the second character pronounced supirittsu, "spirits", to better reflect the game's setting.


Yomotsu-shikome (黄泉醜女, lit. "Ugly-Woman-of-the-Underworld"), in Japanese mythology, was a hag sent by the dead Izanami to pursue her husband Izanagi, for shaming her by breaking promise not to see her in her decayed form in the Underworld (Yomi-no-kuni). Also recorded by the name Yomotsu-hisame (泉津日狭女), the name may have been a term referring collectively to eight hags, not just one.


Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (月読尊) or Tsukuyomi (月読), is the moon god in Shinto and Japanese mythology. The name "Tsukuyomi" is a compound of the Old Japanese words tsuku (月, "moon, month", becoming modern Japanese tsuki) and yomi (読み, "reading, counting"). The Nihon Shoki mentions this name spelled as Tsukuyumi (月弓, "moon bow"), but this yumi is likely a variation in pronunciation of yomi. An alternate interpretation is that his name is a combination of tsukiyo (月夜, "moonlit night") and mi (見, "looking, watching").

Unlike the myths of ancient Greece or Rome, the Japanese moon deity is male. This is clear in the earliest mentions in sources such as the Kojiki and the Man'yōshū, where Tsukuyomi's name is sometimes rendered as Tsukuyomi Otoko (月讀壮士, "moon reading man") or as Tsukihito Otoko (月人壮士, "moon person man").Tsukuyomi was the second of the "three noble children" (三貴子, Mihashira-no-uzunomiko) born when Izanagi-no-Mikoto, the god who created the first land of Onogoroshima, was cleansing himself of his sins while bathing after escaping the underworld and the clutches of his enraged dead wife, Izanami-no-Mikoto. Tsukuyomi was born when he washed out of Izanagi's right eye. However, in an alternate story, Tsukuyomi was born from a mirror made of white copper in Izanagi's right hand.

After climbing a celestial ladder, Tsukuyomi lived in the Heavens with his sister Amaterasu, the sun goddess, who also later became his wife.

Tsukuyomi angered Amaterasu when he killed Uke Mochi, the goddess of food. Amaterasu once sent Tsukuyomi to represent her at a feast presented by Uke Mochi. The goddess created the food by turning to the ocean and spitting out a fish, then facing a forest and spitting out game, and finally turning to a rice paddy and coughing up a bowl of rice. Tsukuyomi was utterly disgusted by the fact that, although it looked exquisite, the meal was made in a disgusting manner, and so he killed her.Soon, Amaterasu learned what happened and she was so angry that she refused to ever look at Tsukuyomi again, forever moving to another part of the sky. This is the reason that day and night are never together.


Watatsumi (海神, 綿津見) [ɰa.ta.tsɯ.mi], also pronounced Wadatsumi, is a legendary kami (神, god; deity; spirit), Japanese dragon and tutelary water deity in Japanese mythology. Ōwatatsumi no kami (大綿津見神, "great deity of the sea") is believed to be another name for the sea deity Ryūjin (龍神, Dragon God), and also for the Watatsumi Sanjin (綿津見三神, "Three Watatsumi gods"), which rule the upper, middle, and lower seas respectively and were created when Izanagi was washing himself after returning from Yomi, "the underworld".


Yomi or Yomi-no-kuni (黄泉, 黄泉の国, or 黄泉ノ国) is the Japanese word for the land of the dead (World of Darkness). According to Shinto mythology as related in Kojiki, this is where the dead go in the afterlife. Once one has eaten at the hearth of Yomi it is (mostly) impossible to return to the land of the living. Yomi in Japanese mythology is comparable to Hell or Sheol and is most commonly known for Izanami's retreat to that place after her death. Izanagi followed her there and upon his return he washed himself, creating Amaterasu, Susanoo, and Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto in the process.

This realm of the dead seems to have geographical continuity with this world and certainly cannot be thought of as a paradise to which one would aspire, nor can it appropriately be described as a hell in which one suffers retribution for past deeds; rather, all deceased carry on a gloomy and shadowy existence in perpetuity, regardless of their behavior in life. Many scholars believe that the image of Yomi was derived from ancient Japanese tombs in which corpses were left for some time to decompose.

The kanji that are sometimes used to transcribe Yomi actually refer to the mythological Chinese realm of the dead called Diyu or Huángquán (黄泉, lit. "Yellow Springs"), which appears in Chinese texts as early as the eighth century BCE. This dark and vaguely defined realm was believed to be located beneath the earth, but it was not until the Han Dynasty that the Chinese had a clearly articulated conception of an underworld below in contrast with a heavenly realm above. The characters are jukujikun, i.e. were used without regard to the actual meaning of the word Yomi, which is unknown. With regard to Japanese mythology, Yomi is generally taken by commentators to lie beneath the earth and is part of a triad of locations discussed in Kojiki: Takamahara (高天原, also: Takama-ga-hara, lit., "high heavenly plain", located in the sky), Ashihara-no-Nakatsukuni (葦原の中つ国, lit. "central land of reed plains", located on earth), and Yomo-tsu-kuni (黄泉国) or Yomi-no-Kuni (黄泉の国, lit. "Land of Yomi", located underground). Yomi has also often been associated with the mythological realm of Ne-no-Kuni (根の国, lit. "Root Land / Land of Origin"), also known as Ne-no-Katasukuni (根の堅洲国, lit. "firm/hard-packed shoal land of origin").

Yomi is ruled over by Izanami no Mikoto, the Grand Deity of Yomi (Yomo-tsu-Ōkami 黄泉大神). According to Kojiki, the entrance to Yomi lies in Izumo province and was sealed off by Izanagi upon his flight from Yomi, at which time he permanently blocked the entrance by placing a massive boulder (Chigaeshi no ōkami 道反の大神) at the base of the slope that leads to Yomi (Yomotsu Hirasaka 黄泉平坂 or 黄泉比良坂). Upon his return to Ashihara-no-Nakatsukuni, Izanagi noted that Yomi is a "polluted land" (kegareki kuni). This opinion reflects the traditional Shinto association between death and pollution. Later Susanoo takes this position over.

Yu Narukami

Yu Narukami (Japanese: 鳴上 悠, Hepburn: Narukami Yū) is the protagonist of Atlus's 2008 role-playing video game Persona 4. In the game, Yu is a silent character whose thoughts and actions are decided by the player. He is portrayed as a high school student who moves to Inaba to live with his uncle and cousin while his parents are busy working. Shortly after arriving to Inaba, Narukami starts investigating a murder case alongside his school mates and explores an alternate dimension where he obtains a power known as "Persona" to confront the "Shadows", the creatures who murdered the first victims. Narukami has also appeared in other works related to Persona 4, including an anime adaptation called Persona 4: The Animation, a manga version, and several spin-offs games. For these works, Narukami received his own characterization and development in the stories. He is voiced by Daisuke Namikawa in Japanese and Johnny Yong Bosch in English.

Narukami was designed by Shigenori Soejima who aimed to create an ambiguous character who could appeal to most players by way of reflecting several feelings towards them and through his mannerisms. For the anime, director Seiji Kishi expressed difficulties in giving the character emotions without damaging what the original staff created. Nevertheless, Narukami's characterization in the anime has been a subject of praise due to his portrayal as a mostly silent teenager whose few lines are related to the plot and in some cases, a source of comedy.

Mythic texts
Japanese creation myth
Takamagahara mythology
Izumo mythology
Hyūga mythology
Human age
Mythical locations
Major Buddhist figures
Seven Lucky Gods
Legendary creatures


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