Category Archives: Amakami

Climate of Kunitokotati’s Time

Temperature over the last 13,000 years, by Yasuda Yoshinori.

This is a continuation of Julian Way’s post about Kunitokotati (Kunitokotachi)

The climate of the Japanese archipelago 15,000 BCE switched from continental type to oceanic type. In the archipelago, centered at 40 degrees north latitude with lots of snow, buna (beech) and oak type deciduous broad-leaved forests expanded. In the midst of the forests of the temperate zone, the oldest doki earthenware of the initial Jomon culture began. Excavation at Fukui-ken Torihama kaizuka 鳥浜貝塚 showed that Jomon resided there 14,500 years ago. 


13,500 years ago, 7,000 people came from Baikal due to climate change on the continent. This map shows Lake Baikal in the upper left corner. The arrow indicates the movement of those Altaic people to East Asia and northern Japan. Hokkaido was still connected to the continent. They migrated to East Nihon where there were only 1500 people, so that 4 out of 5 people were from Baikal. 

Those who solved the difficulty of changing climate and population were those who were later called “Kunitokotachi.” The time was ten thousand years ago. It corresponds to the end of the early Jomon period.

In the days of Toyoke, Isanagi, and Amateru-kimi, around 3,000 years ago, it was getting colder and colder. See chart above by Yasuda Yoshinori, author of Rice-Cultivation Fishing Culture. Note the temperature rise 10,000 years ago, and the warm temperatures between 6,000 to 5,000 years ago, and the cool climate of 3,000 to 2,000 years ago.

The chart below covers a period of 18,000 years. Although the ice age was ending, there was a cooling period called the Younger-Dryas around 11,000 years ago. The warm period is called the Holocene maximum.


Image and quote credit here.

Warming began about 15,000 years ago, interrupted about 4,000 years later by the Younger Dryas, a time when colder conditions returned for about 1,000 years. 10,000 years ago another period of abrupt warming began bringing climate into the present interglacial.




Kunitokotati and To-no-Wosite


Who was Kunitokotati? Kunitokotati is considered the founder of the land. He is the first identified person in the Amakami family tree. His eight sons, called the Kunisatsuchi, spread civilization throughout the islands.

What kind of person was the first Amakami Kunitokotati (Kunitokotachi)? Julian Way’s blog reveals much about him.

Kunitokotati.  Kunitokotati’s character emerges out of the Wosite literature. He sensitively observed and studied everything. He was clearly a creative person who excelled in all things. Moreover, he was a leader that people depended on. He was completely selfless. He generously taught skills to people. He rejoiced at the happiness of others as his own. Furthermore, he was a great person who had the power to see the future.

All was not so simple, though. There were climate changes and immigration from the Continent. See the next post. But Kunitokotati-sama dealt with these problems. Kunitokotati’s era was around 10,000 years ago, long before the time the Wosite Documents were written. Time flowed and flowed until it was around 4,000 years ago. The climate that had been stable suddenly changed.

Toyoke-kami.  Then, from the time when Toyoke-kami was young, society started going downhill. There was a decline in agricultural production, a rise in the difference between rich and poor. People were behaving  badly. Toyoke-sama wanted to correct the situation, to create a new, bright, kuni of peace based on ideals. It was imperative to retrieve what was needed, to look back at the transmission from the past, and to deeply consider and question the foundation of the kuni. 

That foundation is To-no-Wosite.

Also called To-no-Wosiye.

To-no-Wosite.  In Wosite, the character  TO  (see above image) is written with the square of hani and the glyph of two arms spreading open to the sky. The character represents someone who receives the blessings of Nature and shares them freely with others. People shared the blessings they received and were grateful. They understood that each person’s happiness is connected with that of others. Expressed as To-no-Wosiye, this is the Teaching of To.

Kunitokotati-kami built a nation on the foundation of To-no-Wosite, and so did Toyoke-kami and the Hutakami Isanami and Isanagi.





Fuyu itaru hi — Winter Solstice Day in Wosite

Reading the Hotuma Tutaye (Hotsuma Tsutae), we find some familiar words. In Aya 28 is the word koyomi, calendar. The Tutaye says that the Takamimusuhi (Takamimusubi) in Hitakami (Tohoku) were given the task of developing a calendar for all the land. First, we note that koyomi is a word from long ago which is still used today. Secondly, this shows that there was a calendar even in those days. And thirdly, that the calendar was developed in Hitakami by the Takamimusuhi, of which Toyoke-kami was the fifth.
A great observance to honor Amakami ancestors was held in fuyu, winter. The current word for winter comes to us from Wosite times!
Aya 27 tells us that the observance was held on fuyu itaru hi, winter solstice day. The current word itaru is written  至る and its meaning is ‘arrival.’ So, winter solstice day is winter arrival day.
Winter has arrived!
 The Kanayama Megaliths, shown here in the snow, have been operating a solar calendar since Wosite times, for at least 5,000 years.
Photo of Kanayama Megaliths by S. Tokuda

Toyouke Ōkami


Toyoke-sama.  Our beloved Toyoke-sama is also known as Toyoke Kami and Toyouke Ōkami 豊受大神. Toyoke-sama was arguably the greatest kami of Hotsuma. He is remembered as the father of Isanami and grandfather of Amateru. Amateru came to study with him when he was sixteen. Toyoke-sama imparted to the future Amakami of Yamato the wisdom of the ancestors known as the To-no-Wosite teachings of the Ame-naru Michi, the Way of Universe. 

The teaching is for all, and especially for leaders of society, to embody high principles of human behavior: honesty, integrity, and caring for the welfare of others.

Hutakami.  Toyoke’s daughter Isako became Isanami, spouse of Isanagi. The couple are known as Hutakami (Futakami), the kami couple of myth and legend. The Hutakami went throughout the land of Hinomoto teaching the Awa no Uta, the Song of Universe, containing all 48 of the syllables of Wosite language, promoting speech for improved communication and cooperation as well as for promoting good health and vitality.

Takamimusubi.  Toyoke was descended from Ta-no-Kunisatsuchi. Toyoke’s imina birth name was Tamakine. This means he was a man of tama spirit. We notice the many local words beginning with Ta. Tamakine became the fifth Takamimusubi in Hitakami which we now call Tohoku. Hi-taka-mi means to see the sun high in the sky. A remnant of Hitakami remains in the name of the major Tohoku river, Kitakami-gawa, whose old name was indeed Hitakami-gawa.

Taga.  The center of Hitakami was at Tagajo (Taka-jo), east of current Sendai. You can get there after a short train ride. You will be shown the remains of a former government center. There is still a large stone inscribed in more recent times, called the Keta-tsubo. On this rise may have been located the Yamate-miya of Toyoke. Nearby are several shrines named Taga Jinja. One of these, we believe, is the original shrine of Toyoke. This shrine spun off the Taga Taisha in Ōmi (now Shiga-ken). Why Ōmi? Ōmi was the center of Yamato under the care of Isanami and Isanagi.

We visited Taga Taisha. It is a large shrine that hosts a million devotees on New Year’s Hatsumode. By looking for the oldest part of the keidai precincts, we found Toyoke’s hokora next to Amateru’s.

Tanba.  Toyoke lived to a ripe age. When he was quite along in years, there was a disturbance in the region we call Kyotango in Kyoto-fu near the Japan Sea. Amateru asked Toyoke-sama to manage the situation from a base in Miyazu. Toyoke-sama transferred from Hitakami to Tanba and all went well and the people prospered. Toyoke-sama taught how to raise the five grains such as rice, wheat, and beans, and also how to raise silkworms for weaving.

When Toyoke-sama felt his lifeforce dwindling, he called for a tomb to be dug in the mountain of Kujigatake. He would prepare for his last breath. When Amateru heard about his grandfather, he rushed to his side. He entered Toyoke’s tomb and received the final teaching. Thus Amateru was initiated into the high level of wisdom. Then Amateru was sent out and the tomb sealed. The people were in such grief that Amateru stayed for a while to comfort them.

Toyoke’s tomb is said to be on Mt. Kujigatake (Kushi-gatake, also called Manai-gatake) where there is a manai spring. At the foot of Kujigatake is a shrine called Hinumanai Jinja. Toyoke Ōkami is the revered deity. The monument shown above mentions Five Grains. It is said that half-way up the mountain is an altar rock for the offering of five grains and other foods.

When Amateru himself came to the end of his life, he had a tomb built nearby. Amateru’s trusted friend, Sarutahiko, was the last to see Amateru in his tomb.

Futomani.  Toyoke-sama is the author of the Futomani Motoake chart which was employed as an aid for teaching cosmology and as a guide for decision-making. Amateru complemented the Futomani by selecting its 128 waka. We wouldn’t be surprised if Toyoke-sama also organized the Wosite syllabary into the neat, logical system that it is.


Motoake chart from Julian-Way

The son of Toyoke-sama also attended the lessons with Amateru, and he became the sixth Takamimusubi.

ukesuteme     ne no kuni ni kite     tamakine ni …

Ukesuteme came to Ne no kuni to see Tamakine …   from Hotsuma Tsutae Aya 15

Another Kunisatsuchi, Ta’s brother, Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi, had gone to China, and he had a descendant named Ukesuteme. Ukesuteme came to Hitakami to study with Toyoke accompanied by the sister of Isanagi from the land of Ne. Shirayama-hime (Kokori-hime) and Ukesuteme both excelled in acquiring the wisdom of To.

ukesuteme korohin kimi to      tinami ai

After Ukesuteme returned to the Korohin mountains and married the ruler of Akagata, they had a son. Consequently, admired for her wisdom as for her nurturing, she became known as Nishi no Haha, Mother of the West. In China, the Mother of the West has the name Xi Wangmu. She is one of the Seven Immortals. In Taoist paintings she holds the Peach of Immortality in her hand. In the Wosite literature, it is written that she received peach branches from Toyoke-sama to plant in Korohin.

Alternate identities.  Another name for the kami of food is Ukanomitama. And Toyouke’s most popular identity is Inari, the kami of the rice fields. The Inari shrines are the most plentiful in Japan, grounded in folk religion. Inari devotees may not realize the connection with the sage of Hitakami.

Toyouke at Ise and Moto-Ise Shrines:  Probably due to Toyouke’s reknown as provider of Five Grains and foodstuffs, his name has morphed into the female Toyouke-hime no kami at the Geku Outer Shrine of Ise Jingu. And yet, the chigi of the honden is cut vertically in male sotosogi fashion! As it is at the Moto-Ise shrines Hinumanai Jinja and Manai Jinja Okumiya of Kono Jinja (below).


Remembering Toyoke-sama

Let us remember Toyoke-sama who served the people of Hinomoto during their critical developmental period. Toyoke-sama, the great sage, set society’s tone of compassion based on a deep connection with Universe.  And, in remembering Tamakine Toyoke-sama, we do not forget our own tama nature.


Life and Death of Isanami and Isanagi

Kuni-Umi, Birth of a Land

220px-Location-of-Awaji-island-enInland Sea.   The Inland Sea of Japan separates three of the four major islands of Nihon retto archipelago. Among the countless islands in the Sea lying south of the western end of Honshu, the main island, is the major island of Shikoku. At the north-eastern tip of Shikoku lies the next major island, Awajishima. Awaji Island is about 50 km long. Its shape is a curious reflection of nearby Biwako, Lake Biwa near Kyoto. See map.

Awa-no Kuni.   Recall our ealier posts about the hutakami, the kami couple Isanami and Isanagi, and how they taught the Awanouta in Awa-no-kuni, the area around Biwako (kuni, land or country). This is the largest lake in Nihon. The lake was then called Awa-umi (umi, sea), and the name morphed into Oumi. This was the name of the province, Oumi-no-kuni, until the Meiji period when it became the Shiga-ken prefecture.

In Oumi, a notable grand shrine is the Taga Taisha. Its kami are the hutakami and Isanagi is considered to be the Taga kami. When Isanagi and Isanami went around the kuni teaching Awanouta, they were unifying their people and building their country, in other words, doing kuni-umi (umi, birth). This is the Wosite version of kuni-umi as told in the Hotsuma Tsutae.  

Birth and Death of Hutakami

Isanami, the daughter of Toyoke-sama, was born in Hitakami (now Tohoku) which her father governed. There are a number of Taga shrines connected to Toyoke. One of them spun off the shrine in Oumi which became the Taga Taisha. Isanagi was born in Ne-no-kuni on the north coast along the Japan Sea.

The hutakami couple were married in Hitakami and named the 7th Amakami in Tukuha (Tsukuba). Afterwards they moved their miya residence to the Ise-Kumano region of the Kii peninsula. Isanami gave birth to daughter Hiruko Wakahime, and sons Amateru, Tukiyomi, and Sosanowo. Isanami died in a fire in Kumano and is buried at Hana-no-Iwaya, an ancient shrine  near the present Kumano City. However, there is another monument that is said to be her ohaka tomb in far-away Izumo. This is a mound of large rocks on a hill behind the Sada Jinja. Furthermore, the Hibayama Kume Jinja in Izumo is dedicated especially to Isanami, and her ohaka is said to be on top of the mountain. 


After Isanami’s passing, Isanagi is deeply grieved. He passes away, Kojiki says, on the island of Awaji at a place called Taga. The honden of Izanagi Jingu is the site of his kakure-miya, his final resting place. There used to be from ancient times a mound of large rocks marking the spot. The rocks were buried in the Meiji period when the honden was constructed, with only one rock visible (honden in center of photo below). We can imagine that the monument may have looked like Isanami’s in Izumo.

Izanagi Honden

The connection with Izumo is through their wayward son Sosanowo who moved there after being exiled. He became a leader of Izumo. It makes one wonder if it was he who built the monuments in Izumo as memorials to his mother. They may not be actual burial places since Isanami died in Kumano.

Izanagi Jingu is ichinomiya (first shrine) of Awaji-no-kuni. Both Isanami and Isanagi are enshrined there.

Kuni-umi in Awaji

In Awaji, there are some of the oldest shrines dedicated to Isanami and Isanagi. The residents of Awaji claim that theirs is the locale of kuni-umi, by which they mean that physical land was first created by the hutakami. The myth of kuni-umi is related in Kojiki, where the couple in “heaven” dip their lance into the ocean and the dripping water forms the islands of Nihon. The first is Onokoro. Where is Onokoro?

There are two jinja called Onokoro Jinja. One is on Awajishima and the other on its tiny neighbor to the south, Nushima. This latter shrine is reached by ferry and a climb up a narrow wooded trail followed by three flights of kaidan steps. At the top we look down and see the ferry port and the town. We are on Onokoro yama. After paying respects at the honden, we follow a footpath and find a statue of Isanami and Isanagi holding their lance and creating land. 

Onokoro Nushima copy


The other Onokoro Jinja is in a more populated area of Awajishima itsef. It possesses a certain charm and a number of shrines to other kami. There is a huge red torii in front. 

Onokoro Awaji

Taiyo no Michi, The Path of the Sun

There is a new-looking granite monument near the entrance of Izanagi Jingu. The latitude here is 34.5 degrees North, longitude 134.9 degrees East. It is a map centered on Izanagi Jingu. North and South, East and West, the two directions of summer and winter solstice sunrises, and the two directions of summer and winter solstice sunsets are shown emating from Awajishima. In each direction is a major shrine connected with Isanagi and Isanami, although we must confess that we do not know all the connections. Were the shrines situated deliberately so as to form this particular design? It has become a fad in Japan to find these “ley-lines” connecting important sacred sites. At first, we think that it is a simple matter to find any number of ley-lines since there are so many shrines. And yet, there may be a deeper meaning behind these observations. As this chart has pointed out, ancient shrines may have been connected to each other in a geographical as well as spiritual manner. Just how ancient people accomplished this surveying feat, over mountainous lands separated by ocean, is amazing!

Taiyo no michi

We often check the orientation of shrines that we visit. We have found that shrines nearly always face east, toward the rising sun. If the shrine has been rebuilt in the Heian period, it may face south. Ancient shrines of Hinomoto are sun-oriented, as the name implies!


Is there a direct connection of Awaji to the Awa and Awa-no-kuni of Hotsuma Tsutae? On Shikoku there is a province called Awa-no-kuni. Is the similarity of names a coincidence?

At this time, we can’t explain why the myths of Kojiki say Isanagi died in Awaji-no-kuni. From the Hotsuma Tsutae we know that Isanami died in Kumano. Why would Isanagi go to Awaji to spend his remaining days? One may say that this is where the couple did kuni-umi, but it does not fit the Hotsuma history of kuni-umi taking place in Oumi.

Perhaps we’ll find the answer as we continue our study and research.

P.S. We are posting some thoughts about the mystery of Awa on Okunomichi. Do visit us there!


Rev. 2016.08.12

Amakami Family. Part 2. Hotuma Tutae

Amakami in Hotuma Tutae

We will get acquainted with the Amakami through a long passage from the Hotuma Tutae. We will show you the lines from 325 through 349 (with three lines snipped out) in four charts. Each of the four passages has the romaji on the left side. We will help you understand the lines.

Chart 1 Tokoyo-kami: Hitakami and Takamimusuhi

1)tokoyo-kami kinomi 325~

The first name for Japan was Tokoyo or Tokoyo no kuni. The center of the Yamato civilization was in the Awa (Lake Biwako) area. This civilization developed over a long period of time into what is now the nation of Japan. From the time of Isanaki / Isanami, the country name became Yamato-kuni or Hinomoto (essence of the sun). In Tokoyo-kuni, the first leader Kunitokotati planted a sacred masakaki tree. And he planted a sacred masakaki tree as well in the far-off eastern land of Hitakami. Tokoyo was expanding.

This made very important sense. Ta-no-kunisatuti, who developed the east, was highly skilled in arts and sciences. He produced a calendar by astronomic observation as a new technology useful to all the people. Because of that, the central Amakami regarded him with a special status: his title was also Ki-no-tokotati, Kuni tokotati of ki, the east. The majority of his descendants, the Takamimusuhi family, became academics in science and technology. So it was that the great Toyoke-sama was born.

The leaders in the eastern hako-kuni distant land created takama, a Takamanohara (see earlier post) center where the great ancestor Minakanusi was revered. Please remember that Takama / Takamanohara is the center which is the residence of Kunitokotati. In addition to the masakaki tree, the tatihana citrus was also planted there. In this poem, miko means a lineage heir.

Here is an interesting aside: Hitakami is Hi-sumi, where hi is sun and sumi is the place where it lives. In other words, Hitakami is the place where the sun lives. As for Tukusi (see Chart 2), it may be tuki-sumi, the place where the moon (tuki) lives. When you look at the map, you see that Hitakami is in the east where the sun rises, and Tukusi is in the west where the sun sets, which reminds us of the moon at night.

Chart 2  Sono miko ha:  Tukusi, Soasa, Ne and Titaru

2)sono miko ha 331~

Another son, Amekakami, went to govern Tukusi. For communication with Hitakami, Uhitini Amakami accepted the latter’s son, Ameyorotu, as his own. And he entrusted Ameyorotu with the governance of Soasa. Ameyorotu had two sons, Awanaki and Sakunaki. Awanaki left to oversee Ne (area around the mountain Sirayama) and Titaru regions, to spread the law and teachings.

[sono miko, one of the sons of Takamimusuhi;  mouku, accept as a son;   awa saku, Awanagi and Sakunagi]

Chart 3  Umu miko no:  Takahito, Tamakine, and Isako

3)umu miko no imina takahito 337~

Awanaki’s first son, whose imina was Takahito, became a powerful kami (kamiro-ki, kamirogi). The yitu-yo fifth generation Takamimusuhi had the imina Tamakine. Imina is a name given at birth which describes the essence of the person. The name Tamakine was predictive: tama means both jewel and spirit. For Tamakine became the great Toyoke-sama. Toyouke is an alternative spelling, and it means one who receives abundance. Toyouke’s daughter was Isako (Isanami).

Chart 4  Keta-tuho no: Toyouke, Isanami, and Isanagi

4)ketahuho no tusa no 344~

Ketatuho was the special miya residence of Toyouke. The name Ketatuho means spirit flowing abundantly in a vase. There is a Ketatsubo monument in the ruins of the old government capital Tagajo outside Sendai. In the present age, tubo still plays a vital role: its meaning is once again “the core.”

[tu-sa, west-south;   isa, rich and clear, pure and bright;   unatuki, agree;   ami te, to form a partnership (ami, a net or a connection);   masiwaru, exchange love.  toko is to-ko, where to is the teaching of the law, and ko refers to hoko, the force that protects the teaching. ko also means prosperity.]

The poem says that south of Ketatuho, the two (Takahito and Isako) agreed to partner at their own special miya at Tukuha. This would be near today’s Tsukuba city. The two became the huta-kami kami couple Isanagi and Isanami. After the couple exchanged love and had miki, the sacred sake, they spread the Ame no Woshiye law and teachings. And all prospered in Yamato.