IZANAGI AND IZANAMI – These two parents of most of the rest of the deities in Shinto myths always need to be mentioned in one entry. Before life on Earth existed the two of them stood on Ukihashi, the floating bridge between Earth and Takamagahara, the High Plain of Heaven where the gods lived. From there they stirred the primordial juices here on Earth with a jeweled spear and created the Japanese islands and a shrine still stands on Onokoro, the tiny island that legend held was the first landmass created by the duo.
Their first coupling spawned either one slug-like creature or all of the demons and monsters in Shinto mythology (accounts vary). Beginning with their second mating the woman, Izanami, began giving birth to Continue reading
SARUTAHIKO – The god who guards the floating bridge between the Earth and the heavenly realm of the gods, Takamagahara (“High Plain of Heaven”). He is depicted as a giant wielding the jeweled spear that once belonged to his father Izanagi and which Izanagi used to stir the primordial broth on Earth as he and his wife Izanami were preparing to begin creation.
Sarutahiko is considered the god of pathways and crossroads, both real and symbolic. He took his sentry duties so seriously that he once even tried to bar the way of the god Ninigi and his retinue when he was Continue reading
UZUME – This daughter of the gods Izanagi and Izanami was the goddess of dancing, a skill that served her in good stead in two major Shinto myths. When the sun goddess Amaterasu had hidden herself away in a cave, Uzume danced naked as part of the plot concocted by the god of wisdom Omoigane to lure Amaterasu back out into the world.
In the other major myth Uzume is part of the retinue of the god Ninigi when Amaterasu sends him down to rule over ancient Japan. Their descent was blocked by Sarutahiko, the god who guards Ukihashi, the floating bridge between Continue reading
SUSANOWO – The Shinto storm god. He is appropriately depicted as an impetuous, ill-tempered god and was often at odds with his sister the sun goddess, Amaterasu. In the Nihongi he is the son of both Izanagi and Izanami but in the Kojiki he is born from Izanagi’s nose as a sneeze.
At one point he was seriously over-stepping his authority in a fit of anger. In some versions he was angry over his sister Amaterasu being the Chief Deity in the Shinto pantheon instead of him, in others he was angry because his mother the goddess Izanami could never return from Yomi, where she was now fated to rule over the dead forever. At any rate he was Continue reading