“The Root of Taoism is in Wosite Japan” – 1. Taoism and Mother of the West

Legendary Taoist sage Lao Tzu of the 5th century BCE


“The root of Taoism is in Wosite Japan.” 

This is our Wosite teacher Beace’s stunning thesis in her post here.  http://julian.way-nifty.com/woshite/2010/03/post-ccb2.html.  We render her article into English in this series of three posts.

The wisdom of To-no-Wosite was developed in the early days of the Wosite civilization. The founder of the land of Hinomoto (an early name for the islands of Japan) was Kunitokotati. His eight children spread civilization far and wide. In particular, Ka-no-Kunisatuti took the To-no-Wosite teachings to the land in the west which we now call China. He and his descendants settled in the western mountains, thousands of years ago. They thrived by following the Way of To, and this may have been a root of the Way of Tao, or Taoism.

As the centuries rolled on, people drifted away from the Way and society became disharmonious. Around 1,000 BCE Ukesuteme, one of the members of the Ka family, did something about it. Ukesuteme learned the wisdom of To from Toyoke Kami not once but twice. As a spiritual master, she became known as Mother of the West. In China her name is Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang Mu), one of the highest of the Taoist Immortals. In Japan she is Nishi-no-Haha. 

The root of Taoism can be traced to the teachings of To-no-Wosite from Hinomoto, the land of Wosite during the Jomon period.

Ka-no-Kunisatuti Goes to China

Kunitokotati (Kuni-tokotati, Kunitokotachi) was the founder of the civilization of Wosite in the land of Hinomoto in the pre-Jomon period. One of the Kunitokotati children was Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi who went to the west to what is now China. Ka settled in Korohin, in Akakata (Akagata) (perhaps during the Xia dynasty of China, 20 to 16 centuries BCE) in the western part of what is now China. Ka and his descendants the Toyokunnu promoted the Way of the To-no-Wosite teachings that they brought from Hinomoto.

Hotuma Tutaye Aya 15, 41ff:

Kokori hime  / katareru koto ha

Tokotati no / ya mo amekurite

nisi no kuni / Kuroso no Tumi te

Ka ni ataru / na mo Akakata to

Toyokunnu / yoyowo samureto

tosi o hete / mitituki muru o

The Hotuma Tutaye (Hotsuma Tsutaye) is a document written in Wosite around 600 BCE. In it, Amateru-Amakami talks about direct traffic to and from the continent, soon after the founding of the country Hinomoto (land of Wosite). This is in the Jomon period after Kunitokotati. People from Hinomoto went to the continent, and long before the time of Toyoke Kami, people came from China to “study abroad.” 

The word “Akakata” is found in a history of around 100 BCE, as well as another document of around 700 CE, referring to “China.” “Kuroso” denotes a country of rich black soil. Kuroso and Korohin seem to refer to the Kunlun Mountains of western China. After many generations passed, the most important spirit of the To-no-Wosite Way was forgotten.

Kunlun Mountain Hermits

Hermits (仙人, Sennin) were said to reside on Kunlun Mountain, and Korohin seems to be a country in the Kunluns. However, Kunlun is not a real mountain. Rather, it is a mythical place where the Chinese Immortals (神仙, Shinsen) live. This comes from Chinese sources that were written around 1000 BCE and also much later in the Western Han era around 300-150 BCE. Earlier, Kunlun was an indigenous belief in the land of mysterious and terrifying Shinsen; later it became a “country that teaches the Way.” This is around the time that Taoism developed. [Perhaps this is what leads Beace to relate the To-no-Wosite teachings in the Korohin/Kunlun area to the rise of Taoism.]

Beace wrote: There is a garden with thick trees and a pond filled with water. In the beautiful world of Kami where many Sennin live, it is said that King Mu of Zhou and King Father of the East visited. In addition, Kunlun is regarded as the center of the world, and its summit reaches to the North Star and the Big Dipper. It was said that Kunlun rotates the stars, probably because the Queen Mother of the West is a Kami of the moon.


Taoism is a nature-based philosophy from ancient times that later spun off a religion. Although Taoism predates Lao Tzu, he (Lao Tzu) is considered its founder because he is credited as the author of the Taoist classic called the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu, if he indeed existed, is said to have lived during the Zhou dynasty around the 5th century BCE. Even earlier were various forms of folk religion, as evidenced by oracle bones. See also Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism. When Buddhism arrived in China, Taoist philosophy amalgamated with it to form the school known as Chan or Zen. 

Xi Wangmu, Chinese Mother of the West

Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu, fourth century BCE) wrote,

“The Queen Mother of the West attained the Tao.”

Xi Wangmu is said to be the highest ranking deity in the pantheon of Chinese Immortals, for she holds the secret of immortality. She answers prayers for longevity. Her name is often translated as Queen Mother of the West. In China, her birthday is said to be the autumn equinox, when the sun sets due west. Shang dynasty 15th century BCE oracle bone inscriptions of folk religion mention a Western Mother. This predates organized Taoism, but she has become associated with Taoism. Her popularity grew during the Han dynasty of the 2nd century BCE. In Taoist art, Xi Wangmu is depicted holding peaches in her home on the mythological Kunlun Mountain in western China. She has a garden of peach trees bearing Peaches of Immortality. 

Stephen Little, Asian art expert:

“While Taoism is extremely old, Xi Wangmu predates it.”   

Taoist Immortal Xi Wangmu on a Dresden plate, Qing dynasty, 1725



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