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Writing with Writers
Myth Brainstorming Machine



Izanagi and Izanami glided down the rainbow-striped Floating Bridge of Heaven. They stared into the oily, primeval ocean of chaos below. Izanagi dipped his jeweled spear and stirred the swirling jellyfish-like mass; a glistening droplet fell from his spear point and turned into an island.

Izanagi and Izanami descended to the island they created and built a tall, sacred column. Izanagi circled the column in one direction, Izanami went in the other. When they met face to face, they married. Izanami then gave birth to the eight islands of Japan, the mountains, the seasons, the gods of land and water and all the forms of nature. After giving birth to the fire god, Izanami died of a burning fever.

Izanagi was so crazed with grief that he chased after his wife into the dark Underworld. He pulled a comb from his hair and lit it, just to get a glimpse of his beautiful beloved.

He sprang back in horror! Izanami had become a rotting corpse. She shrieked in rage at being seen. Izanagi fled; his hideous wife and her horde of demons and devils were at his heels. He just barely reached the mouth of the Underworld and rolled a boulder into it. Izanami wailed that she would kill 1,000 people a day in revenge. Izanagi vowed that 1,500 people would be born each day. As they had married from either side of the column, Izanagi and Izanami divorced from either side of the boulder. The living and the dead were separated forever.

Like the rising sun on its flag, Japan's mythology celebrates two important concepts: nature and nation. Japanese myths, like the story of Izanagi and Izanami, explain the origins of its islands and the divine line of its emperors. They honor the nature spirits of an agricultural community and the warriors and gods of an imperial culture.