The Story of Izanagi and Izanami
After several heavenly deities were born, they commanded the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami to complete and solidify the moving earth. Standing on the Heavenly Floating Bridge, they stirred up the waters of the sea with a lance that the other gods had given them. When the water began to coagulate, they withdrew the lance, and the drop that fell from its point formed the island Onokoro. Descending from heaven to this island, the two deities erected a heavenly column and a spacious house. Izanagi and Izanami then decided to create more land. To conduct the ritual, they proceeded around the heavenly column, Izanagi going to the right and Izanami to the left. When they met, Izanami said first, "What a pleasure to meet such a handsome young lad." Then Izanagi said, "What a pleasure to meet such a beautiful maiden." However, Izanagi didn't like the idea that the woman had spoken first; he told Izanami that the first words should have been spoken by him since he was the man. From this first union was born a misshapen "leech" child. Izanagi and Izanami didn't want this child and so they placed him into a boat made of reeds and floated it away. Next, they produced the island of Awa, but they also refused to recognize this island as one of their children. After having these unwanted children, the two deities went off and consulted the elder gods, who explained to them that these unfortunate births were the result of Izanami's mistake in speaking first to Izanagi, and that they must walk around the column again and carry out the rite correctly. After having complied with these instructions, they produced the many islands (Iyo, Sanuki, Awa, Oki, Tsukuji, and so on) that make up Japan. They also produced other gods -- the gods of wind, of trees, of mountains, and so on. The last born was the god of fire, Hi-no-kagu-tsuchi-no-kami, whose fiery birth caused the death of his mother Izanami and of many of his elder siblings. Izanagi was very angry when he saw this, so he picked up a sword and cut off the child's head. Wishing to meet his spouse, Izanami, again and take her back with him, Izanagi went after her to Yomi, the land of the dead. Izanami came to the door of the hall to meet him, but she refused to return with him because she had already eaten the food of Yomi. She suggested that she should go and discuss the issue with the god of Yomi, and begged Izanagi not to look inside the hall. However, since she had been gone so long, Izanagi grew irritated and disobeyed her wish, entering the hall to see what was taking her so long. There he found, watched over by eight thunder deities of Yomi, Izanami's body, decomposing and full of worms. Seeing this, Izanagi fled in horror. (Wouldn't you?) Izanami, ashamed, told the other residents of Yomi to pursue and capture him. Izanagi defended himself with various magical methods. Izanami then sent more soldiers and the eight thunder gods after him. When Izanagi reached the end of the slope to the land of the dead, he picked three peaches and threw them to the soldiers of Yomi, who fled from this deadly barrage, and then blocked the entrance with a huge boulder. Izanagi stood, faced Izanami who was running toward him, and divorced her. Izanami was upset and told him, "For your having done this, I will kill one thousand people of your land each day." To this, Izanagi replied, "If you do that, I will each day create one thousand five hundred people." The two deities then parted. (This slope can be found in the Japanese province of Izumo. It was called Yomo-tsu-hira-saka, but is now called Ipuya-zaka.) Izanagi felt sullied by this contact with the land of the dead. He went to the island of Tsukuji in order to purify himself at the mouth of the little river Tachibana in the province of Hyuga. When he threw away his stick, the god called simply "god-set-up-at-cross-roads" came into existence. Then he took off and threw away his clothes, each one of them producing another new deity. After that, he dived into the river, and the impurities that he brought back from the land of the dead became two gods of illness. To cure these ills, Izanagi created two gods of healing. The final three gods that he created here were particularly noble and important. When he washed his left eye, Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, was created. Next, he washed his right eye, producing Tsuki-yomi, the god of the moon. Last, he washed his nose, whereupon Susanoo, god of the sea and thunder, was created. Izanagi gave his necklace to Amaterasu, and ordered her to rule the heavens, Takamanohara. To Tsuki-yomi he entrusted the kingdom of the night, and to Susanoo the oceans. While Amaterasu and Tsuki-yomi obeyed the orders of Izanagi and took possession of the heavens and the night, Susanoo did not. He stayed to grieve for his dead mother, and when Izanagi asked him, he said that he wanted to go to Yomi to visit her instead of ruling the oceans. Izanagi grew angry when he heard Susanoo mention Izanami, and drove him away. Susanoo then said that he wanted to say farewell to his sister Amaterasu before he proceeded to Yomi.