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In Japanese mythology, the story of the birth of the gods (神産み Kamiumi?) occurs after the creation of Japan (Kuniumi) and refers to the birth of the kami, descendants of Izanagi and Izanami.


Genealogy of Izanagi and Izanami according to the Kojiki

According to the Kojiki, various gods were born from the relationship between Izanagi and Izanami until the fire deity, Kagutsuchi, at birth burned Izanami's genitals and wounded her fatally.[1][2] Izanagi, witnessing the death of his beloved wife, in rage took the ten-grasp[nb 1] sabre and crushed his child, Kagutsuchi.[3] A number of gods were born from the blood and remains of Kagutsuchi.[3] Subsequently, Izanagi went to the land of Yomi (the world of the dead) to find Izanami, however when he found her, she had become a rotting corpse and from her parts other gods had arisen, causing the flight of Izanagi to the world of the living.[4] Then Izanagi performed the misogi ritual purification through which more gods are born.[5] The last of these are the three most important gods of Shinto: Amaterasu, goddess of the sun; Tsukuyomi, deity of the moon; and Susanoo, god of the sea.[6]

Birth of the gods

After having created the Eight Large Islands (Ōyashima) and other islands during the creation of Japan, Izanagi and Izanami decided to give birth to other gods, among them household deities,[nb 2] deities of the wind, trees and meadows, all born spontaneously:[1]

  1. Ōkotooshio (大事忍男神?)[nb 3]
  2. Iwatsuchibiko (石土毘古神?)[nb 4]
  3. Iwasuhime (石巣比売神?)
  4. Ōtohiwake (大戸日別神?)
  5. Ame-no-fukio (大戸日別神?)
  6. Ōyabiko (大屋毘古神?)
  7. Kazamotsuwake-no-oshio (風木津別之忍男神?)
  8. Ōwatatsumi (大綿津見神?)
  9. Hayaakitsuhiko (速秋津日子神?)
  10. Hayaakitsuhime (ハヤアキツヒコ・ハヤアキツヒメ 速秋津比売神?)
    From the relationship between Hayaakitsuhiko and Hayaakitsuhime the following gods were born:[1]
    1. Ahanagi (沫那藝神?)
    2. Ahanami (沫那美神?)
    3. Tsuranagi (頬那藝神?)
    4. Tsuranami (頬那美神?)
    5. Ame-no-mikumari (天之水分神?)
    6. Kuni-no-mikumari (国之水分神?)
    7. Ame-no-kuhizamochi (天之久比奢母智神?)
    8. Kuni-no-kuhizamochi (国之久比奢母智神?)
  11. Shinatsuhiko (志那都比古神?)
  12. Template:Ill2 (久久能智神?)
  13. Ōyamatsumi (大山津見神?)
  14. Template:Ill2 (鹿屋野比売神?), also known as Nozuchi (野椎神?)
    From the relationship between Ohoyamatsumi and Kaya-no-hime the following gods were born:[1]
    1. Ame-no-sazuchi (天之狭土神?)
    2. Kuni-no-sazuchi (国之狭土神?)
    3. Ame-no-sagiri (天之狭霧神?)
    4. Kuni-no-sagiri (国之狭霧神?)
    5. Ame-no-kurado (天之闇戸神?)
    6. Kuni-no-kurado (国之闇戸神?)
    7. Ohotomatohiko (大戸惑子神?)
    8. Ohotomatohime (大戸惑女神?)
  15. Tori-no-iwakusufune (鳥之石楠船神?, "Bird's-Rock-Camphor-tree-Boat"),[nb 5] also known as Ame-no-torifune (天鳥船?)[nb 6]
  16. Ōgetsuhime (大宜都比売神?)[nb 7]
  17. Hi-no-yagihayao (火之夜藝速男神?), also known as Hi-no-kagabiko (火之炫毘古神?) and Hi-no-kagutsuchi (火之迦具土神?)

Gods born during the agony and death of Izanami.

During Kagustuchi's birth, Izanami's genitals were burned and she was mortally wounded. In her agony, from her vomit, urine and feces more gods were born.[2]

  1. Kanayamabiko (金山毘古神?), born from the vomit and feces of Izanami
  2. Kanayamabime (金山毘売神?), born from the vomit and feces of Izanami
  3. Haniyasubiko (波邇夜須毘古神?), born from the feces of Izanami
  4. Haniyasubime (波邇夜須毘売神?), born from the feces of Izanami
  5. Mitsuhanome (彌都波能売神?), born from the urine of Izanami
  6. Wakumusubi (和久産巣日神?),[nb 8] Tori-no- born from the urine of Izanami
    Wakumusuhi had a daughter:
    1. Toyouke (豊宇気毘売神?)

Death of Kagutsuchi

After the agony, Izanami dies. At the time Izanagi crept moaning about the body and mourned her death. From his tears Nakisawame (泣沢女神?) was born. Subsequently, Izanagi buried Izanami on Mount Hiba. His sadness turned into anger and he decided to kill Kagutsuchi with a ten-grasp[nb 1] sword called Ame-no-ohabari (ja:天之尾羽張?, also known as Itsu-no-ohabari).[2][3]

From the blood of Kagutsuchi the following gods emerged:[3]

  1. Iwasaku (石折神?)[nb 9]
  2. Nesaku (根折神?)
  3. Template:Ill2 (石筒之男神?)
    The gods above were born from the blood that fell from the tip of the sword in the rocks.
  4. Mikahayahi (甕速日神?)
  5. Hihayahi (樋速日神?)
  6. Takemikagutsuchinoo (建御雷之男神?), also known as Takefutsu (建布都神?) or Toyofutsu (豊布都神?)
    The gods above were born from the blood that fell from the blade of the sword.
  7. Kuraokami (闇淤加美神?)
  8. Kuramitsuha (闇御津羽神?)
    The gods above were born from the blood that fell from the handle of the sword.

Also, from the body of Kagutsuchi the following gods were born:[3]

  1. Masakayamatsumi (正鹿山津見神?), emerged from Kagutsuchi's head;
  2. Odoyamatsumi (淤縢山津見神?), from the chest;
  3. Okuyamatsumi (奥山津見神?), from the abdomen;
  4. Kurayamatsumi (闇山津見神?), from the genitals;
  5. Shigiyamatsumi (志藝山津見神?), from the left arm;
  6. Hayamatsumi (羽山津見神?), from the right arm;
  7. Harayamatsumi (原山津見神?), from the left foot;
  8. Toyamatsumi (戸山津見神?), from the right foot.

Land of Yomi

Izanagi then decided to bring back Izanami and goes to Yomi-no-kuni, the underworld. Crossing the gates to that world, he met Izanami and says to her:[4]

The countries that you and me have created have not been completed yet. Let us return![nb 10]

Izanami replied:

Too bad you did not come before, for I have eaten in the country of Yomi! [By eating food in the land of Yomi, one ends up stuck being a resident of Yomi. This concept is called, "Yomotsu Hegui (黄泉戸喫)."][7] ... however, I will consult with the gods of Yomi. Under no circumstances you may look at me![nb 11]

On saying this, Izanami entered the palace of these gods. However, time passed and she did not return and Izanagi began to despair. So he broke one of the tines of his ornamental comb mizura that he wore in the left bun of his hair, lit it in order to light the place and decided to enter the world of dead. He manages to find Izanami but is surprised to see that she lost her beauty and had become a rotting corpse, covered with maggots. Of her body were born the eight Gods of thunder, which were:[4]

  1. Ōikazuchi (大雷?), from the head of Izanami;
  2. Honoikazuchi (火雷?), from her chest;
  3. Kuroikazuchi (黒雷?), from her abdomen;
  4. Sakuikazuchi (折雷?), from her genitals;
  5. Wakaikazuchi (若雷?), from her left arm;
  6. Tsuchiikazuchi (土雷?), from her right arm;
  7. Naruikazuchi (鳴雷?), from her left foot;
  8. Fusuikazuchi (伏雷?), from her right foot.

Izanagi, shocked, decided to return home, but Izanami was embarrassed by his appearance and commanded the Yomotsushikome (黄泉 丑女 lit. "horrible women from the world of darkness"?) to chase Izanagi. In his flight, he took the head-dress from his head, and threw it to the ground where it turned into a bunch of grapes. The Yomotsushikome started to eat them but kept chasing the fleeing Izanagi. So he broke the tine of the comb that he wore in his right bun, and as he threw it to the ground it became bamboo shoots, prompting the Yomotsushikome to eat them and enabling Izanagi to flee.[4]

However, Izanami decided to release the eight gods of thunder and 1,500 warriors from Yomi to continue the pursuit. Izanagi drew and brandished his Totsuka-no-Tsurugi[nb 1] sword to continue his flight. As they pursued him, Izanagi reached the Yomotsu-hirasaka (黄泉比良坂?), the slope that descends from the land of the living to Yomi. He took three peaches from a tree that had grown in that place and threw them at his pursuers so that they fled.[4]

Izanagi commented:

Assistance to all people when they are tired and face difficulties.[nb 12]

These peaches were called Ohokamuzumi-no-mikoto (意富加牟豆美命?).[4]

Finally, Izanami persecuted Izanagi, but he lifted a rock that a thousand men could not move and blocked the slope with it. At that moment, their eyes met for the last time.[4]

Izanami said:

If you behave in this way, I will strangle and kill one thousand men of your land in one day![nb 13]

Izanagi replied:

If you do this, I will in one day set up 1,500 parturition houses. So in one day indeed 1,000 men will die and indeed 1,500 are going to be born.[nb 14]

These words justified the circle of life and death in humans. For the same reason, Izanami is also called Yomotsu-ohokami (黄泉津大神?) or Chishiki-no-ohokami (道敷大神?) and the boulder that covers the entrance to the world of the dead is known as Chikaeshi-no-ohokami (道返之大神?) or Yomido-no-ohokami (黄泉戸大神?) and is today known as slope of Ifuya (伊賦夜坂?) in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture.[4]

Purification of Izanagi

Gods that emerged during the purification of Izanagi.

Leaving Yomi, Izanagi decided to remove all uncleanness in his body through a purification ceremony (misogi) consisting of a bath in the river at Ahakihara in Tachibana no Ono in Tsukushi. As he stripped his clothes and accessories on the floor the following twelve gods are born:[5]

  1. Tsukitatsufunato (衝立船戸神?), emerges from the staff;
  2. Michi-no-nagachiha (道之長乳歯神?), from the obi;
  3. Tokihakashi (時量師神?), from the handbag;
  4. Wazurai-no-ushi (和豆良比能宇斯能神?),[nb 15] from cloths;
  5. Michimata (道俣神?), from the hakama;
  6. Akiguhi-no-ushi (飽咋之宇斯能神?), from the crown corona;
  7. Okizakaru (奥疎神?), from the armband of the left hand;
  8. Okitsunagisabiko (奥津那芸佐毘古神?), from the armband of the left hand;
  9. Okitsukaibera (奥津甲斐弁羅神?),[nb 16] from the armband of the left hand;
  10. Hezakaru (辺疎神?), from the armband of the right hand;
  11. Hetsunagisabiko (辺津那芸佐毘古神?), from the armband of the right hand;
  12. Hetsukaibera (辺津甲斐弁羅神?), from the armband of the right hand;

Subsequently, Izanagi is stripped of impurities from the land of Yomi. In this moment two gods were born:

  1. Yasomagatsuhi (八十禍津日神?)
  2. Ōmagatsuhi (大禍津日神?)

Then, shaking off the curse, three gods were born:

  1. Kamunaobi (神直毘神?)
  2. Ōnaobi (大直毘神?)
  3. Izunome (伊豆能売?)

Then, when washing with water the lower parts of his body, two gods were born;

  1. Sokotsuwatatsumi (底津綿津見神?)
  2. Sokotsutsunoo (底筒之男神?)

When washing the middle of his body, two more gods were born:

  1. Nakatsuwatatsumi (中津綿津見神?)
  2. Nakatsutsunoo (中筒之男神?)

Finally, washing the upper part of his body, two more gods were born:

  1. Uwatsuwatatsumi (上津綿津見神?)[nb 17]
  2. Uwatsutsunoo (上筒之男神?)

The trio of Sokotsuwatatsumi, Nakatsuwatatsumi and Uhatsuwatatsumi make up the group of deities called Sanjin Watatsumi, or the gods of water. The trio of Sokotsutsunoo, Nakatsutsunoo and Uhatsutsunoo make up the Sumiyoshi Sanjin group of deities, gods of fishing and sea, to whom tribute is paid at Sumiyoshi Taisha.[5]

In the last step of the purification ceremony, Izanagi washed his left eye from which Amaterasu Ōmikami (天照大御神?) was born; washed his right eye from which Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto (月読命?) was born; and when washing his nose, Takehayasusanoo-no-mikoto (建速須佐之男命?) was born.[5]

With these three gods called Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko (三貴子?, ”Three precious children”), Izanagi ordered their investiture. Amaterasu received the mandate to govern Takamagahara and a necklace of jewels called Mikuratanano-no-kami (御倉板挙之神?) from Izanagi. Tsukuyomi is mandated to govern over the Dominion of the Night, and Takehayasusanoo is to rule the seas.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A "grasp" is the breadth of four fingers when the hand is clenched.
  2. Despite the existence of the Japanese article, Katakurokushin (家宅六神?) usually refers to Chinese deities and extending the term to Japanese gods has no long history or has any appreciably wide acceptance.
  3. Chamberlain: Ohokotooshio
  4. Chamberlain: Ihatsuchibiko
  5. Chamberlain: Tori-no-ihakusubune
  6. Probably also a boat; ridden by Takemikazuchi
  7. Chamberlain: Ohogetsuhime
  8. Chamberlain:Wakumusuhi
  9. Chamberlain: Ihasaku
  10. 「あなたと一緒に創った国土はまだ完成していません。帰りましょう。」. Kojiki
  11. 「黄泉の国の食べ物を食べてしまったので、生き返ることはできません」「黄泉神と相談しましょう。お願いですから、私の姿は見ないで下さいね。」. Kojiki
  12. 「人々が困っている時に助けてくれ」. Kojiki
  13. 「私はこれから毎日、一日に千人ずつ殺そう」. Kojiki
  14. 「それなら私は人間が決して滅びないよう、一日に千五百人生ませよう」. Kojiki
  15. Chamberlain: Wazurahinoushi
  16. Chamberlain: Okitsukahibera
  17. Chamberlain: Uhatsuwatatsumi


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Chamberlain 2008, pp. 77–78
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chamberlain 2008, p. 79
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Chamberlain 2008, pp. 80–81
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Chamberlain 2008, pp. 82–83
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Chamberlain 2008, pp. 84–85
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chamberlain 2008, p. 86
  7. 戸部民夫 『日本神話』 29-30頁。