Izanami

Japanese Pantheon

Description:

In Japanese mythology, Izanami-no-Mikoto, also given as 伊弉冉尊 or 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.

The first gods Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi summoned two divine beings into existence, the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, and charged them with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a spear decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko (heavenly spear). 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 spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima (“self-forming island”) was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.

Eventually they wished to be mated, so they built a pillar called Ama-no-mihashira (“pillar of heaven”; the mi- is an honorific prefix) and around it they built a palace called Yahiro-dono (one hiro is approximately 1.82 m, so the “eight-hiro-palace” would have been 14.56 m). Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions and, when they met on the other side, Izanami spoke first in greeting. Izanagi did not think that this was proper, but they mated anyhow. They had two children, Hiruko (“leech-child”) and Awashima (“faint island”), but they were born deformed and were not considered deities, but devils.

They put the children into a boat and set them out to sea, then petitioned the other gods for an answer as to what they did wrong. They were told that the male deity should have spoken first in greeting during the marriage ceremony. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, this time Izanagi speaking first when they met, and their marriage was finally successful.

From their union were born the ōyashima, or the “great eight islands” of the Japanese chain:

Awaji
Iyo (later Shikoku)
Ogi
Tsukushi (later Kyūshū)
Iki
Tsushima
Sado
Yamato (later Honshū)
Note that Hokkaidō, Chishima and Okinawa were not part of Japan in ancient times.
They bore six more islands and many deities. Izanami died giving birth to the child Kagu-Tsuchi (incarnation of fire) or Ho-Masubi (causer of fire). She was then buried on Mt. Hiba, at the border of the old provinces of Izumo and Hōki, near modern-day Yasugi of Shimane Prefecture. So angry was Izanagi at the death of his wife that he killed the newborn child, thereby creating dozens of deities.

Bio:

Izanami

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