East Asian Mythology: China and Japan

The Creation: Izanagi and Izanami

What does this creation myth suggest about a Japanese view of the world?

The first thing we notice is that the primary object of creation is not the universe, or the world, but Japan. Izanami and Izanagi are clearly Japanese gods (kami) whose interest is only in the Japanese islands. The myth reflects the fact that the Japanese, in the time of the writing of the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki, wanted little or nothing to do with the world beyond its own shores. The myth of the marriage ceremony between Izanagi and Izanami reflects the Japanese view at the time, of the “proper” secondary status of women in relation to men.

The twin creator gods Izanagi (right) and Izanami (left) as depicted in a painting by Kobayashi Eitaku.


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