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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Which has cost Izanami her life


*The

expression here translated "invisible" has been interpreted in the sense that the Kami "hid their persons," i.e., died, but the true meaning seems to be that they were invisible.

Up to this point there has not been any suggestion of measuring time. But now the record begins to speak of "generations." Two more solitary and invisible beings are born, one called the Kami who stands eternally on earth, the other the "abundant integrator." Each of these represents a generation, and it will be observed that up to this time no direct mention whatever is made of sex. Now, however, five generations ensue, each consisting of two Kami, a male and a female, and thus the epithet "solitary" as applied to the first seven Kami becomes intelligible. All these generations are represented as gradually approximating to the exercise of creative functions, for the names* become more and more suggestive of earthly relations. The last couple, forming the fifth generation, are Izanagi and Izanami, appellations signifying the male Kami of desire and the female Kami of desire. By all the other Kami these two are commissioned to "make, consolidate, and give birth to the drifting land," a jewelled spear being given to them as a token of authority, and a floating bridge being provided to carry them to earth. Izanagi and Izanami thrust the spear downwards and stir the "brine" beneath, with the result that it coagulates, and, dropping from the spear's point, forms the first

of the Japanese islands, Onogoro. This island they take as the basis of their future operations, and here they beget, by ordinary human processes--which are described without any reservations--first, "a great number of islands, and next, a great number of Kami." It is related that the first effort of procreation was not successful, the outcome being a leechlike abortion and an island of foam, the former of which was sent adrift in a boat of reeds. The islands afterwards created form a large part of Japan, but between these islands and the Kami, begotten in succession to them, no connexion is traceable. In several cases the names of the Kami seem to be personifications of natural objects. Thus we have the Kami of the "wind's breath," of the sea, of the rivers, of the "water-gates" (estuaries and ports), of autumn, of "foam-calm," of "bubbling waves," of "water-divisions," of trees, of mountains, of moors, of valleys, etc. But with very rare exceptions, all these Kami have no subsequent share in the scheme of things and cannot be regarded as evidence that the Japanese were nature worshippers.

*The Kami of mud-earth; the Kami of germ-integration; the Kami of the great place; the Kami of the perfect exterior, etc.

A change of method is now noticeable. Hitherto the process of production has been creative; henceforth the method is transformation preceded by destruction. Izanami dies in giving birth to the Kami of fire, and her body is disintegrated into several beings, as the male and female Kami of metal mountains, the male and female Kami of viscid clay, the female Kami of abundant food, and the Kami of youth; while from the tears of Izanagi as he laments her decease is born the female Kami of lamentation. Izanagi then turns upon the child, the Kami of fire, which has cost Izanami her life, and cuts off its head; whereupon are born from the blood that stains his sword and spatters the rocks eight Kami, whose names are all suggestive of the violence that called them into existence. An equal number of Kami, all having sway over mountains, are born from the head and body of the slaughtered child.


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