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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Supposed to be in the vicinity of Awaji


Now,

according to the Records, the first place "begotten" by Izanagi and Izanami was an island called Awa, supposed to be in the vicinity of Awaji. The latter is a long, narrow island stretching from the northeast of Shikoku towards the shore of the main island--which it approaches very closely at the Strait of Yura--and forming what may be called a gate, closing the eastern entrance to the Inland Sea. After the island of Awa, the producing couple gave birth to Awaji and subsequently to Shikoku, which is described as an island having four faces, namely, the provinces of Awa, Iyo, Tosa, and Sanuki.

Rejecting the obviously allegorical phantasy of "procreation," we may reasonably suppose ourselves to be here in the presence of an emigration from the South Seas or from southern China, which debarks on the coast of Awaji and thence crosses to Shikoku. Thereafter, the immigrants touch at a triplet of small islands, described as "in the offing," and thence cross to Kyushu, known at the time as Tsukushi. This large island is described in the Records as having, like Shikoku, one body and four faces, and part of it was inhabited by Kumaso, of whom much is heard in Japanese history. From Kyushu the invaders pass to the islands of Iki and Tsushima, which lie between Kyushu and Korea, and thereafter they sail northward along the coast of the main island of Japan until they reach the island of Sado.

All this--and the order of

advance follows exactly the procreation sequence given in the Records--lends itself easily to the supposition of a party of immigrants coming originally from the south, voyaging in a tentative manner round the country described by them, and establishing themselves primarily on its outlying islands.

The next step, according to the Records, was to Yamato. About this name, Yamato, there has been some dispute. Alike in ancient and in modern times the term has been applied, on the one hand, to the whole of the main island, and, on the other, to the single province of Yamato. The best authorities, however, interpret it in the latter sense for the purposes of the Izanagi-and-Izanami legend, and that interpretation is plainly consistent with the probabilities, for the immigrants would naturally have proceeded from Awaji to the Kii promontory, where the province of Yamato lies. Thereafter--on their "return," say the Records, and the expression is apposite--they explored several small islands not identifiable by their names but said to have been in Kibi, which was the term then applied to the provinces of Bingo, Bitchu, and Bizen, lying along the south coast of the Inland Sea and thus facing the sun, so that the descriptive epithet "sun-direction" applied to the region was manifestly appropriate.

In brief, the whole narrative concerts well with the idea of a band of emigrants carried on the breast of the "Black Tide," who first make the circuit of the outlying fringe of islands, then enter the mainland at Yamato, and finally sail down the Inland Sea, using the small islands off its northern shore as points d'appui for expeditions inland.

JAPANESE OPINION

Japanese euhemerists, several of whom, in former times as well as in the present, have devoted much learned research to the elucidation of their country's mythology, insist that tradition never intended to make such a demand upon human credulity as to ask it to believe in the begetting of islands by normal process of procreation. They maintain that such descriptions must be read as allegories. It then becomes easy to interpret the doings of Izanagi and Izanami as simple acts of warlike aggression, and to suppose that they each commanded forces which were to have co-operated, but which, by failing at the outset to synchronize their movements, were temporarily unsuccessful. It will seem, as we follow the course of later history, that the leading of armies by females was common enough to be called a feature of early Japan, and thus the role assigned to Izanami need not cause any astonishment. At their first miscarriage the two Kami, by better organization, overran the island of Awaji and then pushed on to Shikoku, which they brought completely under their sway.


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