Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Heaven (Chapters 3) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

The Children of Isanagi and Isanami

Omotaru, 6th in the line of heavenly sovereigns, joined his spouse Kashikone to tour the length of the land and increase food for the people by guiding them in the development of agriculture. At the same time, aided by their sakahoko halberds, symbols of divine authority, they dauntlessly eliminated bandits who opposed their better admonitions, and thus brought peace to the land.

They built the central pillar of their land on an islet amid the Atsumigawa River in the Land of Omi, naming the place "Okitsubo". From here they progressed to Hitakami in the east, Tsukisumi-Ashihara in the west, and from Awa to Sosa in the south. In the north, they developed the lands from Ne (today's Hokuriku) to Yamato-Sahoko-Chitaru (San-in) and thereby strove to maintain the peace. Yet, to the very end, they remained unblessed with an heir. And for this very reason, the rich lands they had tried so hard to unite now started to descend into lawlessness.

One day, the young pair later known as Isanagi and Isanami received a command from the heavenly sovereign.
"On the reed plains of Okitsubo", it said, "there are good rice fields that promise an autumn yield of three hundred and fifty acres. Use this as your starting point for uniting the land, and thereby succeed us as the 7th generation of heavenly sovereigns."
They were now given the To-no-Woshide (a precious document defining the "Way of Heaven"), passed down unbroken from the days of Kunitokotachi, and the hoko halberd with which to smite wrongdoers. "With these", they were told, "shall you rule this land."

Isanagi and Isanami were later joined in matrimony through the "floating bridge" (mediation) of the go-between, Kotosakanowo. They then stood on this "floating bridge" and probed the mundane world with the halberd they'd been given. On receiving a response, they performed divination using the drops of water dripping from the end of the halberd. Then, after taking a vow by the mystical wonokoro spirit of Kunitokotachi, they decided on a good location and built their palace there. From this point on, they restored the land of Yamato to peace and affluence once more. They toured the whole country, creating and nurturing the natural blessings of land and sea. They taught the Song of A and Wa as a vocal exercise to improve marital harmony as well as standardizing the language. They exerted every effort to improve people's lives by spreading the doctrine of humanity and teaching the art of sericulture.

The origins of their restoration of the disturbed order, their reconstruction of the nation, and their succession as the seventh generation of heavenly sovereigns through meritorious works, lay with the first such sovereign Kunitokotachi. He had travelled to eastern lands to plant the seeds of trees, and there begat a child called Hagokuni. Hagokuni had in turn established the Land of Hitakami and, for the first time, had venerated the creator deity Ameminakanushi in an earthly representation of the Takamagahara (the universe), inviting the 49 deities of the heavenly Takamagahara. He had also planted the seeds of the tachibana orange tree as symbols of Kunitokotachi's ideal homeland. Hagokuni had a son whose familiar name was Kinotokotachi. The people were overjoyed at the birth of an heir to succeed to the sacred Takamagahara, and lauded him with the title of Takami-Musubi (Ruler of Hitakami). The son of Kinotokotachi was Amekagami, who was sent to rule Tsukushi (Kyushu).
Meanwhile, Ameyorozu, son of the 4th heavenly sovereign Ubichini, succeeded to the seat of Takami-Musubi and governed the Land of Soasa (Shikoku). He had two sons named Awanagi and Sakunagi. Awanagi was authorized to rule the lands from Shirayamato to Sahoko-Chitaru in the Land of Ne (Hokuriku). His eldest son had the familiar name of Takahito, but was also called Kamurogi as a child.

The 5th in the line of Takami-Musubi had the familiar name of Tamakine, but was better known as the Lord Toyoke. He conceived a plan to revive the line of heavenly sovereigns, now threatened with extinction through the lack of an heir to the 6th generation. He would betroth his daughter Isako to Awanagi's son Takahito, thereby creating a 7th generation through dynastic marriage. A certain Hayatamanowo was first entrusted to act as a "floating bridge" or mediator between the two. But he failed in his attempt. Next, Kotosakanowo carefully explained the peril facing the nation, and succeeded in bringing the two together.
The pair were wedded at the Isa Palace near the Isagawa River running below Mount Tsukuba, southwest of the Taketsubo centre of government (near Tagajo on the outskirts of Sendai City today). In reference to the Isa Palace, the pair were given the official names of Isanagi and Isanami, under which they duly succeeded to the sovereignty.

One day, as they resided at Isa, Isanagi turned to his consort and enquired as to her physical condition. She replied: "I am fully endowed, yet there is a part of me that is incomplete". To this, Isanagi answered, "There is a part of me that is overly complete. Let us join those parts together and create children."
The two now joined together in nuptial consummation, and, in due course, produced a baby girl. Born in the daytime, she was named Hiruko ("Daytime Child"). But there was a problem. In the year Hiruko was born, Isanagi was 40 years of age and Isanami 31. Two years later they would enter an extremely unlucky year, according to traditional belief. Should an evil spirit be lingering at this time, the belief was that a female child would bring defilement to her father, while a male child would cause calamity to his mother.
Before the sweet princess Hiruko could reach the age of three, she was set adrift on a river in a boat made of rock camphor. Downstream, Kanasaki (the deity Sumiyoshi) was waiting to rescue the child. She was then nursed by his wife Yeshinazu in the Nishitono Palace (Nishinomiya).
Later, Isanagi and Isanami returned to the "floating bridge" and, after again taking the wonokoro vow, they turned around the "Heavenly Pillar" in the Yahirotono pavilion that had been built in the meantime. They agreed that they should try to produce a male heir.
First, in the ritual of kotoage, Isanami turned to the left while her spouse turned to the right. When they met again, Isanami started by saying, "Ah, what a splendid youth". Isanagi, in turn, said "Ah, what a fine maid." After thus chanting together, they conceived a child. But the child was miscarried before its term was full. It was called Hiyoruko ("Premature Child") but was not included among the number of their children. It was placed on a boat of reeds and cast off, the place where it landed being called Awajishima ("Island of Our Shame").
The pair related these unhappy events to the heavens. They conducted divination according to the Futomani Book and sought divine guidance. They were told: "Nothing will come from the Song of I and Yo that you used before. When you conduct the kotoage, the female must never start first". The divination produced further guidance on the method of procreation.
"According to ancient legend", it continued, "the ways of matrimony were taught to man by a pair of wagtails. First, the female wagged her tail and sang her song. But the male, on seeing this, let out a sharp cry and flew off. On another day, the male bird adopted a posture of courtship. The female responded to this and they started mating. This was taken as a sign from the heavens conveyed through the birds, and therefore was called Totsuginori, the "Way of Matrimony", or literally the "Way (nori) Conveyed (tsugi) by Birds (to)". This is the root of the word totsugu, to marry."

Isanagi and Isanami now returned to their palace and turned once more around the sacred pillar. Isanagi turned to the left and Isanami to the right. As they did, Isanagi first chanted the Heavenly Song of A and Wa.
Then he sang "Ah, how happy to meet such a beautiful maid". Isanami replied without hesitation, "Ah, how joyous to see such a handsome youth". And having harmonized their voices, they now set about rebuilding the nation, with heaven and earth as the "placenta" of their new creations. The first of the islands they brought back into the fold was Yamato-Akitsusu. This was followed by Awajishima, then Iyo-Awafutana, then Okimitsugo, then Tsukushi and Kibinoko, and finally Sado and Ushima, making eight great islands in all.

Next, they created the produce of seas and rivers, then the deity Kukunochi (parent deity of trees), Kayanohime (the female deity of grass), and the deity Nunozuchi. Then they rested awhile in their palace of Harami, and governed the land in the spirit of the Song of A and Wa. Having thus created the nation of eight islands (Yashima), they considered producing an heir. Eventually, the Deity of the Sun was born. They named the child Uhirugi, and the people rejoiced at the felicitous news. The light of the heavens now shone down brightly on every corner of the land, and everyone - sovereign, ministers, and ordinary people alike - now shared a common vision of a bright new future.

Isanagi recognized the divine authority and power that emanated from the child's person. "We are unworthy", he declared, "to keep this child who was born of the wondrous spirit of the sun". So he sent the boy to the Lord Toyoke residing in Heaven (the Takamagahara), under whose tutelage he would learn of the Way of the Heavenly Pillar and thus become a noble leader of the whole nation.
To commemorate these joyous events, Mount Harami, birthplace of the Sun Deity, was renamed Ohiyama (Great Sun Mountain).
The Lord Toyoke, on receiving the prince, gave him the familiar name of Wakahito, alluding to his birth while the first dawn of the new year was still young (waka). Now Isanagi and Isanami made a progression to Tsukushi, where they produced another child. His familiar name was Mochikine, and his official name was the deity Tsukiyomi. This referred to Tsukisumi, the former name of Tsukushi, so called from a belief that, as the sun rose in the east, the moon (tsuki) set at the far corner (sumi) of this western isle. And just as the moon shines in the radiance of the sun, Tsukiyomi went on to serve his brother (now officially named Amateru) as his next-in-command, the moon that shone in the light of the Sun Deity.
Meanwhile, their sister Hiruko, previously abandoned in order to rid the land of defilement and calamity, had grown into a fine young princess. She now joined Amateru as the sister deity under the new name of Wakahirume. And in this way, she passed happy and peaceful days while learning songs from her mother Isanami under the flowers of the trees.

It was just at the time of the blossoms that the last child of the two deities was born in the Land of Sosa (now Wakayama Prefecture). His familiar name was Hanakine, his official name Sosanowo ("Man of Sosa"). Sosanowo was often wont to rant and rage, and his ill deeds caused great disturbance to the people and vexation to his mother. Isanami worried long and hard that Sosanowo's wild nature, causing calamity all around, actually resulted from her own defilement. So she built the Shrine of Kumano as a prayer to release her son from ill fortune. By so doing, she would protect the people by assuming responsibility for the disasters visited upon them.
With these four children (one daughter and three sons) at last brought into the world after such exertions, the rule of sovereign and ministers was at last re-established by them and a promise of peace returned to the land.

The two great deities Isanagi and Isanami observed the noble doctrine of To (the ancient scriptures) and resolutely used the sakahoko halberd of divine authority to control those who still opposed them. Shrines commemorating the birth of their five children were built at Harami (Amateru), Mount Tsukuba (Hiruko), Awaji (Hiyoruko), Tsukisumi (Tsukiyomi), and Kumano (Sosanowo).

(from the 3rd aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)

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Hotsuma-Tsutae (National Archives, Tokyo)
Hotsuma-Tsutae (period translation by Waniko Yasutoshi, ca. 1779)

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