Izanagi and Izanami

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Japanese Mythology

Izanagi and Izanami are central deities in Japanese mythology, known as the creators of the Japanese archipelago and many of its gods. Their story is primarily detailed in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki.

Creation of the Japanese Islands

Izanagi and Izanami were given the task of creating the world by the elder gods. They stood on the Floating Bridge of Heaven and stirred the primordial ocean with a jeweled spear. When they lifted the spear, drops of water fell back into the ocean and formed the first island, Onogoro-shima. They descended to this island and built a palace.

The Marriage Ceremony

To create more land, Izanagi and Izanami performed a marriage ritual by circling a heavenly pillar. Izanami spoke first during the ritual, which resulted in the birth of deformed children. They repeated the ceremony, with Izanagi speaking first, and their union was successful. Together, they created the Japanese islands and numerous deities.

Birth of the Fire God and Izanami’s Death

Their happiness was shattered when Izanami gave birth to the fire god, Kagutsuchi, whose birth burned her severely. As Izanami lay dying, several deities were born from her tears and pain. Grief-stricken, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi, and from Kagutsuchi’s blood and body sprang more deities.

Journey to the Underworld

Unable to accept Izanami’s death, Izanagi ventured to Yomi, the land of the dead, to retrieve her. He found her, but she had already eaten the food of the underworld and could not return. Despite her warnings, Izanagi lit a torch to see her and was horrified to discover her decayed form. Izanami, enraged by his betrayal, chased him out of Yomi.

Purification and the Birth of Important Deities

After escaping Yomi, Izanagi performed a purification ritual to cleanse himself of the impurities of the underworld. During this ritual, several significant deities were born, including:

  • Amaterasu (the sun goddess) from his left eye,
  • Tsukuyomi (the moon god) from his right eye,
  • Susanoo (the storm god) from his nose.


The story of Izanagi and Izanami explains the creation of Japan and its pantheon of gods. It emphasizes themes of life, death, and purification, illustrating the deeply ingrained values and beliefs in Japanese culture. Their tale is foundational in Sh

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