Once again, we are discussing mythology. This time, we are talking about three Japanese myths that some of us may already know. However, they are extremely interesting and reading about myths and comparing them is pretty entertaining. We’ve talked about some peculiar ancient Greek myths and some Celtic myths, but let’s go on a journey from the ancient Greece to the land of the rising sun! Ready…set…embark!
The myth of creation, Izanami and Izanagi
We know the story about Cronus and Gaia, the Big-Bang theory or the Christian myth of Adam and Eve, the first people to be created. But let me tell you about the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanagi! These two were siblings…and husband and wife, because without incest a myth wouldn’t be a myth, am I right?
Their first child had huge deformities (we should not be surprised though) and from then on they started creating different islands and deities. While birthing the god of fire, the sister-wife was burned to death and sent to the land of darkness and she wasn’t allowed to leave anymore after eating that place’s food. Izanagi went after her, but Izanami was already a walking corpse. Terrified, Izanagi flew away and put a seal to the Yomi entrance. In order to wash away the filth of the land of darkness, Izanagi went into the sea and, welp, took a bath. And that’s how even more deities were created. Yickes!
The tale of the Kitsune, the sly or loyal fox
There are endless and countless versions of this tale. The Japanese myth of the fox depicts legendary being that are able to disguise themselves into humans. While a lot of the versions are portraying the kitsune as a sly and seductive creature, or “yokai”, they are not too bad. Some of the stories have as the good character a kitsune and others…are talking about tricksters, bringers of death, shape-shifting deities who hide behind the appearance of a young beautiful woman to seduce and eat men.
They usually have numerous tails, nine in most myths and are seen walking on their back legs. This myth is so well known in Japan that many anime and manga series are inspired by it. Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Naruto and Digimon are just a few series that include a kitsune or kitsune-like character. Foxy myth!
The moon God
It’s kind of amusing how in ancient Greek myths, the sun is represented by a God and the moon by a Goddess. In this Japanese myth, the moon is not represented by a Goddess, such as Selene, but by a God. The moon God, or “Tsukuyomi” was born when Izanagi bathed in the sea and washed his right eye to purify himself after his failed mission of rescuing Izanami. It is also believed that he was born out of Izanagi’s right hand, from a white copper mirror. His siblings are born from Izanagi’s left eye, Amaterasu (the Goddess of Sun), and Izanagi’s nose, Susanoo.
It is believed that the sun and moon can never meet because of a conflict between Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu. After killing the Goddess of food, Ukemochi, because he did not like the way she presented the meal of a feast (which it was indeed a bit overwhelming to see), Amaterasu never forgave him and refused to look at him. Bitter-sweet relationship between siblings…
With this being said, we have reached the end of the article. What was your favorite Japanese myth? And, if you had to compare them to myths from other lands, how would you bring forward the similarities and differences?