Izanagi (イザナギ)

"Izanagi" is a male god who appears in Japanese mythology. He is also called Izanaki. Izanagi is referred to as Izanagi no Mikoto in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and as Izanagi no Kami in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan).

He was married to Izanami. The description, 'imo (which can mean a younger sister), Izanami' in Kojiki sometimes leads to a misunderstanding that he was Izanami's elder brother. In this case, however, the word 'imo' endearingly refers to a wife or a younger woman, which is interpreted as not meaning a younger sister in this context.

Although Izanagi is the creator god of the national land, he has not been worshipped to any great extent in court rituals.

Izanagi in myths

He, together with Izanami, was born at an event called "Tenchi Kaibyaku" (creation of heaven and earth (Japanese mythology)) which created Kaminoyonanayo (seven generations of the gods' world, The Primordial Seven), as the last generation. In the myths about "Kuniumi" (the birth of the land of Japan) and "Kamiumi" (the birth of gods), he and Izanami procreated many children who formed the land of Japan. The procreated gods first created Awaji-shima Island, followed by the islands such as Honshu (the main land), Shikoku and Kyushu, and they also included gods of shinrabansho (all things in nature, the whole creation) such as gods of stone, tree, sea (the god named Owatatsumi no Kami), water, wind, mountain (the god named Oyamatsumi no Kami), field and fire.

When Izanami died from the burns to her genital organ she had received while giving birth to Kagutsuchi, the god of fire, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi (from whose blood and dead body new gods were born) and buried Izanami's body in Hibanoyama mountain located on the border of the provinces of Izumo and Hahaki (Hoki).

But since Izanagi could not give up the idea of seeing Izanami again, he visited yominokuni (the land of the dead) to see her, where he found Izanami decaying, infested with maggots and surrounded with gods of thunders (Ikazuchi) as a result of breaking a promise he had made to her that he would never look in while waiting. At the sight of her appalling figure, Izanagi ran away from her. He managed to shake off Izanami, Ikazuchi and Yomotsu-shikome (the ugly lady of Yomi) who tried to catch him, by throwing peach fruits (to which he later gave the god name, Okamuzumi no Mikoto) at them. He divorced Izanami by blocking her off with a big rock Yomotsu Hirasaka, the slope that leads to the land of the dead, at the exit of the earth.
In the conversation then exchanged between the two from each side of the blocking rock, Izanami said to Izanagi, 'I will kill 1000 people of your country every day,' to which Izanagi replied, 'Then I will create 1500 delivery rooms.'

After that, Izanagi purified himself to remove uncleanness of yominokuni at Ahakihara, Tachibana, Odo, Himuka, Chikushi, where he produced various gods including the last three gods to be born, Mihashira no uzuno miko (three noble princes) of Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi and Susanoo.
Izanagi entrusted the three princes with reigns of Takamanohara (plain of high heaven), night and unabara (sea) respectively,
But because Susanoo did not stop crying insisting on going to Hahanokuni Nenokatasukuni (the land where Mother is, i.e. the land of the dead), Izanagi cast him out. After that, Izanagi is said to have lived in seclusion in a place called Taga, which Kojiki says was located in Awaumi (Omi Province) or in Awaji (Awaji-shima Island, Awaji City) and which Nihonshoki says was located in Awaji (Awaji-shima Island, Awaji City). According to Nihonshoki, Izanagi named the country (now Japan) "Urayasu."
(Urayasu City present and located in Chiba Prefecture was named after this.)

The origin of his name

There are various theories about what his name comes from, none of which has been well established.

According to "Jinno Shotoki" (A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns) written by Chikafusa KITABATAKE around 1339, the name Izanagi came from the Sanskrit words, 'Ishanaten' or 'Ishanaku.'

According to "Kojikiden" (Commentaries on the Kojiki) written by Norinaga MOTOORI in 1798, the part 'izana' came from the Japanese word 'izanau((meaning "invite") and the remaining 'gi' means a male.

According to "Shindaishi no shinkenkyu" (New study on History of the Times of Gods) written by Kurakichi SHIRATORI, published by Iwanami Shoten, Publishers in 1954, the name Izanagi is combination of words 'isa' derived from 'isao' meaning pious acts and 'gi' meaning a male.

The name is also broken down into "iza" and "nagi" (meaning calm) to be interpreted as forming a pair with Izanami of "iza" and "nami" (meaning wave).

Shrines dedicaated to Izanagi

Izanagi-jingu Shrine (Awaji City, Hyogo Prefecture):
According to Nihonshoki, it is a Kakurenomiya site (where a god settled peacefully) of Izanagi no mikoto.
Taga Taisha Shrine (Shiga Prefecture):
According to Kojiki, it is where Izanagi no okami stays.
Tsukiyominomiya of Kotai-jingu Shrine betsugu (Ise City, Mie Prefecture)
Eda-jinja Shrine (Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture):
It is where Izanagi is said to have purified himself.
Asashiro-jinja Shrine (Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture)
Mitsumine-jinja shrine (Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture)
Tsukubasan-jinja Shrine (Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture)
Kumano-jinja Shrine (Kamezaki, Yotsukaido City) (Yotsukaido City, Chiba Prefecture)

[Original Japanese]