Tag Archives: isanagi

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. 

day1-hibayama-dsc03862_515

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

Kuni-umi

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!

Mysterious

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!

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Rev. 2016.08.12

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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.

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Awanouta. Part 2. Awanouta and Wosite Syllabary

 

Awanouta analysis 2We show how the ideograms/syllables of the Awanouta (in the box above) were derived from the Wosite syllabary. This figure is by S. Sakata.

Wosite Syllabary

Shown in the box is a chart of the Wosite syllabary. It begins with the blue ideogram for  a. Follow the blue arrow to the left for the upper half of the song which Isanagi sings. The red ideogram for  mo  begins Isanami’s lower half. Follow the red arrows to the right to the end of the song at  wa.

You can see why Isanagi’s half is called “upper” and Isanami’s is called “lower”. When the ideograms are written and sung in the given order in 5 – 7 rhythm, the Awanouta of Part 1 is produced.

Verse 402 Hutakami ha

The verse reads:

huta kami ha     arata ni mekuri

wo ha hitari     me ha miki mekuri

ahi utahu     ame no awa uta

Glossary:

hutakami /  two kami.  aratani / newly.  mekuri / to revolve.  hitari / left.  miki / right.  ahi (ai) / together.

Interpretation

The two kami     newly went around

male to the left     female to the right

sang together     song of Cosmos.

This is the famous story of how Isanagi goes around to the left and Isanami to the right. Isanagi sings first and Isanami sings second. That is the proper way. The reason is: Isanagi’s song comes from the upper five lines of the syllabary, minus the last syllable, mo. Isanami starts with mo and goes through the rest of the chart to the end, wa. His lines are regular: 5, 5, 5, 5, 5-1. Hers are irregular: 1+5, 4, 5, 4, 5 and begins with mo. Thus it can be said that it was not proper for her to sing first, as the well-known legend relates. When they realized this, then he sang first and all was well.

The singing and movements of Isanami and Isanagi may be considered to be a ceremony for giving birth to a good country. This insight of theirs came from much praying with their whole hearts.

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