Izanagi (Japanese: イザナギ, 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". He is also known as Izanagi-no-Mikoto or Izanagi-no-Ōkami.

Accounts in mythology

Izanagi and Izanami

He with his spouse and younger sister Izanami gave birth to the many islands of Japan (kuniumi) and begat numerous deities of Shinto (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 vowed 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 Susanoo

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


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]

See also


  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.
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