Izanagi (イザナギ) is a Shinto deity - a kami - co-creator of the world and Japan. His story is reported in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, two collections dealing with the myth of the creation of the world.

Izanagi Legend

The earth in the beginning was empty and "like a jellyfish in the sea". A male deity, Izanagi, and a female deity, Izanami, were given the task of shaping this primordial chaos and creating a world.

But in order to do this, they first had to create a solid ground. This they did by means of a spear called Amenonuhoko (天沼矛, the "Heavenly Spear") which they dipped into the ocean and waved around. The drops that fell from the spear formed the Japanese islands, beginning with Onogoro (磤馭慮, "first dry land").

After an unsuccessful experiment because it was Izanami who had initiated their union, the two kami gave birth to many other kami who gradually formed everything in nature: islands, mountains, rivers, wind, sand, etc.

But while she was giving birth to the fire kami, Kagutsuchi, Izanami was fatally burned and retired to the realm of the dead. Mad with rage, Izanagi decapitated Kagutsuchi (who was then only a newborn), the blood gave birth to eight new deities including Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi, and decided to go to join Izanami in the land of the dead, Yomi.

He managed to find Izanami, but she begged him not to look at her because she had to ask the permission to return to earth to the kami of the underworld first. But Izanagi's impatience was stronger and he managed to surprise his wife.

He was then horrified to see that her body had started to rot and spread a horrible smell. Izanami, humiliated and angry at being caught, went after Izanagi who was running away.

Izanagi managed to escape from her and sealed the entrance to the realm of the dead with a heavy stone. Izanami told him that she would kill a thousand of Izanagi's creations every day in revenge. But Izanagi replied that he would create one thousand five hundred, thus giving birth to the cycle of life and death.

Izanagi then went to purify himself at the mouth of the Tachibana River in Himuka (present-day Miyazaki Prefecture), and from the water washing his wounds came out other kami, including:

  • Tsukuyomi, kami of the moon, from his right eye;
  • Amaterasu, kami of the sun, from her left eye ;
  • and Susanoo, kami of storms, from his nose4.

Thus, the Izanagi bath is considered in Shintoism as the foundation of harae, one of the most important purification practices.

Izanagi In popular culture

  • In the Naruto manga, Izanagi is a forbidden technique of the Sharingan of the Uchiwa clan used by Danzo Shimura and Obito Uchiwa. Izanagi allows to modify the destiny: thus, the user can heal his wounds instantly or avoid death. However, using it means losing the use of one of his eyes for good. Some Uchiwa used Izanagi to eliminate their clan rivals and became obsessed with this power. Other Uchiwa then created Izanami, a technique to force them to become what they were before they were possessed.
  • Izanagi was the first one to kill Orochi to save Izanami from death in the game Okami.
  • Izanagi is also the "persona" of the hero in the game Persona 4.
  • Izanagi and Izanami are also used in Darker than Black season 2.
  • In Nura: Lord of the Yokai, Kanzen naru fusei, Izanagi is a technique used by Tono's yōkai, Awashima. Awashima is also the name of Izanami and Izanagi's second child in the Kojiki.
  • In Destiny 2, a sniper rifle of exotic rarity (the highest rank) is called the Burden of Izanagi.
  • (10209) Izanaki asteroid.
  • In the 18th video game in the Touhou Project series, Touhou Kouryuudou ~ Unconnected Marketeers, the 4th level takes place in an abandoned mine rich in "Izanagi items," a fictional sacred mineral.
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