free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Was really identical with Yomi shima


what meaning is to be assigned to the "plain of high heaven" (Takama-ga-hara)? Where was the place thus designated? By a majority of Japanese interpreters Takama-ga-hara is identified as the region of Taka-ichi in Yamato province. The word did not refer to anything supernatural but was used simply in an honorific sense. In later ages Court officials were called "lords of the moon" (gekhei) or "cloud-guests" (unkaku), while officials not permitted to attend the Court were known as "groundlings" (jige); the residence of the Emperor was designated "purple-clouds hall" (shishin-deri); to go from the Imperial capital to any other part of the country was to "descend," the converse proceeding being called to "ascend," and the palace received the names of "blue sky" and "above the clouds."

To-day in Yamato province there is a hill called Takama-yama and a plain named Takama-no. The Records say that when the Sun goddess retired to a rock cave, a multitude of Kami met at Taka-ichi to concert measures for enticing her out, and this Taka-ichi is considered to be undoubtedly the place of the same name in Yamato. But some learned men hold that Takama-ga-hara was in a foreign country, and that the men who emigrated thence to Japan belonged to a race very superior to that then inhabiting the islands. When, however, the leader of the invaders had established his Court in Yamato the designation Takama-ga-hara came to be applied to the latter place.

justify;">Whichever theory be correct--and the latter certainly commends itself as the more probable--it will be observed that both agree in assigning to Takama-ga-hara a terrestrial location; both agree in assigning the sense of "unsettled and turbulent" to the "floating, drifting" condition predicated of the country when the Kami first interested themselves in it, and both agree in interpreting as an insignium of military authority the "jewelled spear" given to Izanagi and Izanami--an interpretation borne out by the fact that, in subsequent eras of Japanese history, it was customary for a ruler to delegate authority in this manner. Applying the same process of reasoning to the socalled "birth" of Kami, that process resolves itself very simply into the creation of chieftains and administrators.


It would seem that from Yamato the invaders prosecuted their campaign into the interior, reaching Izumo on the west coast. The Records say that after Izanami's death in giving birth to the Kami of fire, she was buried at Mount Kagu on the confines of Izumo and Hoki. Now the land of Yomi generally interpreted "underworld"--which Izanagi visited in search of Izanami, was really identical with Yomi-shima, located between the provinces of Hoki and Izumo, and Ne-no-Kuni*--commonly taken to mean the "netherland"--subsequently the place of Susanoo's banishment, was in fact a designation of Izumo, or had the more extensive application of the modern Sanin-do and Sanyo-do (districts in the shadow of the hill and districts on the sunny side of the hill), that is to say, the western provinces and the south coast of the Inland Sea.

*In the language of ancient Japan ne meant "mountain," and Ne-no-Kuni signified simply "Land of Mountains."

What the allegory of the visit to hades would seem to signify, therefore, was that Izanami was defeated in a struggle with the local chieftains of Izumo or with a rebellious faction in that province; was compelled to make act of submission before Izanagi arrived to assist her--allegorically speaking she had eaten of the food of hades--and therefore the conference between her and Izanagi proved abortive. The hag who pursued Izanagi on his retreat from Yomi represents a band of amazons--a common feature in old Japan--and his assailant, the Kami of thunder, was a rebel leader.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us