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An illustrated guide to the traditional culture of Japan: legends, arts, customs, etc.
Who are the Japanese? Where did they come from? What are the origins of this unique people?
During the eighth century a scribe named Yasumaro compiled—at the behest of the Empress—the oldest traditions that had survived. He produced two books: the Kojiki(“Records of Ancient Matters”) and the Nihongi(“Chronicles of Japan”). These provide information about the earliest days of the nation, and about its cosmological origins.
In the beginning, we are told, the world was a watery mass - a sea that surged in darkness. Over it hung the Bridge of Heaven.
One day Izanagi and Izanami—brother-and-sister deities strolled onto the Bridge. They peered into the abyss below. And Izanagi, wondering what was down there, thrust his spear into the water. As he withdrew it, brine dripped and congealed into a small island.
Izanagi and Izanami descended to the island. And they decided to live there and produce a country.
They began by building a hut, with the spear as center post. The next step was to get married. For a ceremony, Izanagi suggested they walk in opposite directions around the spear and meet on the other side. Izanami agreed. But when they met, she said: “What a lovely young man youare!”
Izanagi grew wrath. The male, he insisted, must always be the first to speak. For Izanami to have done so was improper and unlucky. So they walked around the spear for a second time. “What a lovely maiden you are,” said Izanagi as they met.
Now they were wed. And they coupled. And Izanami gave birth to the islands of Japan…to the mountains and plains, rivers and forests … to the gods and goddesses of those places.
Author's Website : http://www.professorsolomon.com
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