The Creation Of Heaven And Earth
Source: Japanese Fairy World
Of old the Heavens and the Earth were not separated. Land and water,
solids and gases, fire and stone, light and darkness were mixed together.
All was liquid and turbid chaos.
Then the mighty mass began to move from within. The lighter particles of
gas and air began to rise, forming the sky and heavens. The heavy parts
sank and cohered, becoming the earth. The water formed the four seas.
Then there appeared something like a white cloud floating between heaven
and earth. Out of this came forth three beings--The Being of the Middle
of Heaven, The High August Being, and The Majestic Being. These three
"hid their bodies."
Out of the warm mould of the earth something like a rush sprouted up. It
was clear and bright like crystal. From this rush-sprout came forth a
being whose title is "The Delightful and Honorable Rush-Sprout." Next
appeared another being out of the buds of the rush-sprout whose name is
"The Honorable Heaven-born." These five beings are called "the heavenly
Next came into existence four pairs of beings viz.: (1) The Being Sprung
from the First Mud, and The Being of the Sand and Mud; (2) The Being with
Hands and Feet Growing, and the Being Having Breath; (3) The Male Being,
and the Female Being of the Great Place (the earth); (4) The Being of
Complete Perfection, and the Being who cried out "Strange and Awful" to
Thus the last pair that came into existence were the first man and woman
called Izanagi and Izanami.
It is said that the other pairs of beings before Izanagi and Izanami were
only their imperfect forms or the processes through which they passed
before arriving at perfection.
These two beings lived in the Heavens. The world was not yet well formed,
and the soil floated about like a fish in the water, but near the
surface; and was called "The Floating Region." The sun, earth and moon
were still attached to each other like a head to the neck, or arms to the
body. They were little by little separating, the parts joining them
growing thinner and thinner. This part, like an isthmus, was called
"Heaven's Floating Bridge." It was on this bridge that Izanagi and
Izanami were standing when they saw a pair of wagtails cooing and billing
sweetly together. The heavenly couple were so delighted with the sight
that they began to imitate the birds. Thus began the art of love, which
mortals have practiced to this day.
While talking together on this Bridge of Heaven, they began to wonder if
there was a world beneath them. They looked far down upon the green seas,
but could see nothing! Then Izanagi took his long jeweled spear and
plunged it into the turbid mass, turning it round and round. As he lifted
it up, the drops which trickled from it hardened into earth of their own
accord; and thus dry land was formed. As Izanagi was cleansing his spear
the lumps of muck and mud which had adhered to it flew off into space,
and were changed into stars and comets.
[It is said that by turning his spear round and round, Izanagi set the
Earth revolving in daily revolutions].
To the land thus formed, they gave the name of "The Island of the
Congealed Drop," because they intended to create a large archipelago and
wished to distinguish this as the first island. They descended from
Heaven on the floating bridge and landed on the island. Izanagi struck
his tall spear in the ground making it the axis of the world. He then
proceeded to build a palace around the spear which formed the central
pillar. [This spot was formerly at the North pole, but is now at Eshima,
off the central eastern coast of Japan]. They then resolved to walk round
the island and examine it. This done, they met together. Izanami cried
out, "What a lovely man!" But Izanagi rebuked her for speaking first, and
said they must try it again. Then they walked round the island once more.
When they met, Izanami held her tongue while Izanagi said, "What a lovely
Being now both in good humor, they began the work of creating Japan. The
first island brought up out of the water was Awaji; and then the main
island. After that, eight large islands were created, whence comes one of
the names of Japan, "The Empire of the Eight Great Islands." Six smaller
islands were also produced. The several thousand islets which make up the
archipelago of Everlasting Great Japan were formed by the spontaneous
consolidation of the foam of the sea.
After the country was thus formed the divine pair created eight millions
of earthly gods or kami, and the ten thousand different things on the
earth. Vegetation sprang up over all the land, which was however still
covered with mist. So Izanagi created with his breath the two gods, male
and female of the wind. All these islands are the children of Izanagi and
Izanami, and when first born were small and feeble, but gradually grew
larger and larger, attaining their present size like human beings, which
are at first tiny infants.
As the gradual separation of the land and sea went on, foreign countries
were formed by the congealing of the foam of the sea. The god of fire was
then born of Izanami, his mother. This god often got very angry at any
one who used unclean fire. Izanami then created by herself the gods of
metals, of clay and of fresh water. This latter was told always to keep
the god of fire quiet, and put him out when he began to do mischief.
Izanagi and Izanami, though married but a short time, began to quarrel,
for Izanami had once told her husband not to look at her when she hid
herself. But Izanagi did not do what she requested, but intruded on her
privacy when she was unwell, and stared at her when she wished to be
alone. Izanami then got very angry, and went down to the lower world of
darkness, and disappeared.
In the dark world under the earth Izanami stayed a long time, and after
long waiting, Izanagi went after her. In the darkness of the Under-world
he was horrified at what he saw, and leaving his consort below, tried to
escape to the earth again.
In his struggles several gods were created, one of them coming out of his
staff. When he got up to daylight, he secured a large rock to close up
the hole in the earth. Turning this rock into a god, he commanded him to
watch the place. He then rushed into the sea and continued washing for a
long time to purify himself. In blowing out from his lungs the polluted
air inhaled in the Under-world, the two evil gods sprang forth from his
breath. As these would commit great harm and wickedness, Izanagi created
two other gods to correct their evil. But when he had washed his eyes and
could see clearly again, there sprang out two precious and lovely beings;
one from his left eye, being a rare and glistening maiden, whom he
afterwards named Ama Terasu, or "The Heaven Illuminating Spirit." From
his right eye appeared Susa no O, the "Ruler of the Moon." Being now pure
again, and having these lovely children, Izanagi rejoiced and said, "I
have begotten child upon child, and at the end of my begetting, I have
begotten me two jewel-children." Now the brightness of the person of the
maiden Ama Terasu was beautiful, and shone through Heaven and Earth.
Izanagi, well pleased, said: "Though my children are many, none of them
is like this wonder-child. She must not be kept in this region." So
taking off the necklace of precious stones from his neck and rattling it,
he gave it to her, saying, "Rule thou over the High Plain of Heaven."
At that time the distance between Heaven and Earth was not very great,
and he sent her up to the blue sky by the Heaven-uniting Pillar, on which
the Heavens rested like a prop. She easily mounted it, and lived in the
sun, illuminating the whole Heavens and the Earth. The Sun now gradually
separated from the Earth, and both moved farther and farther apart until
they rested where they now are.
Izanagi next spoke to Susa no O the Ruler of the Moon, and said, "Rule
thou over the new-born Earth and the blue Waste of the Sea, with its
Multitudinous Salt Waters."
[So then the Heavens and the Earth and Moon were created and inhabited.
And as Japan lay directly opposite the sun when it separated from the
Earth, it is plain that Japan lies on the summit of the globe. It is
easily seen that all other countries were formed by the spontaneous
consolidation of the ocean foam, and the collection of mud in the various
seas. The stars were made to guide warriors from foreign countries to the
court of the Mikado, who is the true Son of Heaven].
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