Ancient Mythology

Izangi and Izanami | Japanese Mythology

Izangi (meaning "He who invites"), together with Izanami ("She who invites"), are of the seventh generation of Shinto's celestial gods. Together, they were the creators of the Japanese islands (Yamato).

Izanagi and Izanami were given a special spear by the older generations, with which Izangi reached down and created the first island, Onogoro.

Izangi and Izanami decided to marry and to mate to bring about new generations and new lands from the Earth. To marry, they created a ritual to celebrate. During the ceremony, Izanami cried out delightfully upon seeing Izangi. Izangi returned the excitement, but reminded Izanami that a female should not speak first in this manner.

The first result of their lovemaking was a deformed child that was shaped like a leech (this child is sometimes associated with the god Hiruko). Izangi and Izami returned to Heaven in order to determine the cause of this deformity. They learned that Izanami's outburst during their wedding polluted their marriage. So, the couple then repeated the ceremony, only Izanami remained silent until spoken to.

Their next attempt at mating created the eight largest islands of Japan, and consequent bubbles in the ocean gave rise to the smaller islands and other foreign lands. Izangi and Izanami later created dieties of the sea, wind, mountains, rivers, trees and of rice.

Izanami then gave birth to a fire god, Kagutsuchi, but with dire consequences. Izanami was burned during burth, and fell down to the ground. From her death, many more gods were born, including earth and water goddesses. Izangi's tears as he mourned his lover also created more dieties, and in anger, sliced Kagutuchi up with a sword. His pieces, too, became gods, and his spattered blood formed the stars of the Milky Way.

Izangi sought to return his beloved Izanami, and followed her to Yomi, the Japanese underworld. Eventually finding her in the darkness, Izangi begged her to return. She refused, and told him that she had eaten the dark food of Yomi and could not return to the world of the living. Later, though, as Izanami lay down to sleep, Izangi lit a torch to see. When he did, though, he saw his wife's decaying body. The sight shocked him, and he dropped the torch and ran.

Izanami was woken and tried to stop Izangi from leaving, but he created a barrier between the world of the living and the dead with a boulder. He announced that he would divorce his wife, and she protested saying that she would take 1000 of the living each day if he did. Izangi replied that he would give live to 1,500 each day.

Thus, death was introduced to the world, but Izangi's life-giving still fuels the growth of mankind as he brings more into the world than Izanami can take away.

Seeing the taint of the underworld on his skin, Izangi plunged himself into a river. As he bathed, from his left eye, the goddess Amaterasu came forth, from his right, Tsukiyomi, and from his nose, the god Susano.

Susano, god of the restless seas, complained about his role and was banished (willingly) by Izangi to Yomi. After sending Susano away, Izanagi sought retirement. Some accounts of the myth say that Izangi returned to the heavens to be near Amaterasu, while others say that he rested on the island of Honshu, were he is still worshiped.

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