Myth – Japan

“So you want to hear the story of the birth of the Japanese islands? So there’s these two deities, a god, Izanagi, and a goddess, Izanami. The guy dipped his spear into the ocean and took it out and then the water dripped from it and made islands, but they were imperfect. The goddess initiated sex, but Izanagi didn’t want to and so they went to see a relationship counselor or something like that. The counselor said that the guy had to initiate sex. And so they went back and did a ritual around a pole and when they met, the guy initiates sex and so the islands came about and were perfect. Those are the Japanese islands”

Tony heard this story a few months ago from an Asian Studies professor at the University of Southern California. They were sharing stories in class about Asian cultures and the professor told this myth with the rest of the class to inform them about a theory about the origins of the Japanese islands. He thinks that this myth was created two thousand to three thousand years ago because the Japanese needed a sense of purpose or reason for why they were on earth. Tony says that the myth gives the Japanese a sense of belonging in the world and that they were made to be perfect. He believes that this story is usually told to Japanese teenagers because that is when they start understanding the concept of sex. It is a more mature myth of how Japan came to be. It is not appropriate for children because of the sexual content.

I agree with Tony that the Japanese made up this myth because everyone wants to know where they came from. I also think that men created this in the ancient days as a way of establishing their dominance over woman and justifying their role in society. It is interesting to see that the islands become perfect when a male initiates it, demonstrating the patriarchal system of the Japanese. Women are taught to be obedient and let men run things. This story suggests that whenever women lead something, it ends up being blemished. The Japanese use this myth as a way of founding the origins of their people and the values they abide by. It fortifies patriotism towards Japan because the myth makes it seem like the country was created purposefully and flawlessly. The gods set the example for how people should live in Japan. This occurs before the real world and is considered high mythology according to Manheardt’s distinction between lower and higher mythology. These Japanese gods and goddesses live in the sky and the heavens instead of dwelling on earth around nature.