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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 spear Amenonuhoko to the right, Izanami to the left.

Izanagi (いざなぎ, 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" or Izanagi-no-mikoto. He is also known as Izanagi-no-Okami.

Contents

Accounts in mythologyEdit

Izanagi and IzanamiEdit

He with his spouse and younger sister Izanami gave birth to the many islands of Japan (kuniumi), and begat numerous deities of Shintoism (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 declared 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 SusanooEdit

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

ParallelsEdit

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] There is also an odd resemblance to the myth of Adam and Eve, while one of China's Four Great Folktales, Baishe Zhuan, appears to be a modernized retelling.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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:   ""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.