伊耶那美の逝去【The Passing of Izanami】

In their efforts to build their empire, Izanami and Izanagi had many offspring. The last child to be born was the God of Fire, and as you may well imagine, this caused a great deal of pain and damage to poor Izanami, who died. In the process of dying, many more gods were born, but finally, she passed away.


Her husband, Izanagi, was extremely saddened by her demise, and crawled around her body crying loudly. Other gods were created from his tears. Then he roused himself, and took revenge on his last child, the Fire God. He cut the god into three parts with his ten-span (One span is the breadth of four fingers in a clenched fist) sword, and many other gods were created from the dead god’s blood. (This Fire God is supposed to have been Mt. Daisen of the Sanin Area. Mt. Daisen was active 20,000 years ago. The story is very old , but there may be a relationship.)


Izanagi buried Izanami at the border of the Izumo and Hoki countries, in the Land of Shadows. It is now called, Higashi Izumo. Soon, however, Izanagi became very lonely, and also felt that his work was not done, so he went to Hades to try to get his wife to come back to him. Upon his arrival there, he called his wife and she answered him.

伊耶那岐は、伊耶那美の亡骸を出雲の国と伯耆の国の境にある黄泉の国に埋葬します。この地は現在の東出雲です。 しかし、間もなくとても孤独になり、また自らの仕事をまだ終えていないとも感じた伊耶那岐は、伊耶那美を連れ戻すべく黄泉の国へと向かいます。たどり着くや否や伊耶那岐は妻の名を呼びます。すると、伊耶那美から応えが帰ってくるではありませんか。

He said to her, “My dear wife, we have a lot of work to do to finish the great land we have begun. It is not proper that I should do it alone. Won’t you come back with me so we can complete our job?” His wife answered him, “My dear husband. I sincerely want to come with you, but I have eaten of the food of this land, and therefore am not able to leave it. However, since you are so eager for me to come back, I will see if the gods of this place will release me. Please wait for a while and I will discuss it with them. In the meantime, do not look upon me!”


This type of situation is repeated in many legends of other countries. In this case, however, we can see a bright spirit and hopeful heart. This is the character of the people who made the legends, and is still the character of the people who live in Japan today.


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