Top 10 Gods and Goddesses of Japanese Mythology
Follow the lineage of the Imperial Families of Japan and you’ll find that it all starts in a time of mysticism and great powerful gods and goddesses. The Japanese pantheon is rooted in Buddhist and Shinto traditions, The Shinto pantheon comprises powerful kami, or gods, One notable feature of Japanese mythology is its explanation of the origin of the Imperial Family, which has been used historically to assign godhood to the imperial line. In the following list we explore the top ten gods and goddesses of Japanese mythology.
Kuninotokotachi Born from the chaos that once engulfed the earth, Kuninotokotachi was depicted as having been born from a reed-shoot. In the Nihon Shoki, or The Chronicles of Japan, Kuninotokotachi’s place was atop Mount Fuji and was depicted as a male deity while the Kojiki represented the third deity spawned after the formation of heaven and earth as genderless. According to Shinto sect, Kuninotokotachi was the primordial god of the Universe.
Ninigi-no-Mikoto Grandson to Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess, Ninigi is recorded as being the great-grandfather of Jimmu, the first Japanese emperor, and the divine origin of the Imperial house of Japan, the Yamato clan. Though Ninigi is no longer revered and worshiped, instead being replaced by Okuninushi no Mikoto, he once held the three Japanese Imperial symbols – a jewel, a mirror, and a sword – all of which play a role in Japanese mythology and creation.
Hachiman A deity of the Shinto sect, Hachiman is the patron god of the Minamoto clan and oversees the warriors of Japan as the revered god of war.
Hachiman is believed to have real-world roots as the 15th emperor of Japan, Ojin, and is often worshiped alongside Ojin’s mother, Jingo, and the goddess Hime-gami. In Buddhism, Hachiman is recognized as Hachiman Daibosatsu and became the first deity to sport the title Daibosatsu, meaning “Great Buddha-to-be”. The god of war became an oracle of the deities and guarded the Buddha statue at Todai temple.
Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, is the god of the moon in Japanese mythology. Although generally considered a male deity, he is often portrayed as more feminine. thought to have relation to the lunar calendar and the phases of the moon.
How Tsukuyomi came about may alter depending on the reading, but the Kojiki references the deity’s creation when Izanagi washed his right eye while undergoing a ceremonial cleansing. Other writings place Tsukuyomi in heaven with Amaterasu, who pegged him as an evil deity after killing Ukemochi, the kami of foods.
Toyotama-Hime Naruto fans may recognize Toyotama-Hime as the wife of Uminooya Clan leader, Mochizuki, that became blind by the power of Joukai Heiki. The Toyotama-Hime of Japanese mythology, however, is a far less conflicted and tragic character. Toyotama-Hime was the daughter of Ryujin, god of the sea, and wife of the hunter, Hoori. Her legacy is said to be the first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, whom she was said to have birthed. After the emperor’s birth, Toyotama-Hime morphed into a dragon and flew away.
Ryujin Who lives in a palace under the sea, you ask? That would be Ryujin, the Japanese dragon god of the sea. Known also as the “Luminous Being,” Ryujin is often depicted with a large, gaping mouth and sends and receives messages through Turtle-grams. In his place in the deep blue, Ryujin controls the tidal flows utilizing his magical Tide jewels. During Empress Jingo’s invasion of Korea, Ryujin was called upon for use of the Tide jewels, which helped beach the Korean fleet and then drown those that abandoned their ships.
Fuujin You may initially recognize him as a part of the Mortal Kombat roster, but Fujin’s roots date much further back than the advent of video gaming. Known as the elder Shinto god of wind, Fujin is said to have been present at the world’s creation and is responsible for the winds that blow today. After the formation of heaven and earth, a thick mist divided the two and it was Fujin that cleared this, allowing the sun to shine on the land. Depictions of him often include a large bag of wind slung on his shoulders.
3. Izanami & Izanagi
Izanami & Izanagi This brother-sister pairing served as the central deities of the Japanese creation myth. The two are attributed to creating the first landmass and for the birth of Hiruko, the deformed Leech Child that later became known as the god Ebisu. They continued to procreate and formed multiple islands and other deities, including the fire god Kagutsuchi, who mortally wounded Izanami. Trapped in Yomi, the land of darkness, Izanami ate from the underworld and became trapped. Eventually, her body started to decompose and attracted maggots. Izanagi attempted to free Izanami, but found her in her grotesque form and sealed her in Yomi.
Susanoo-no-Mikoto As the storm god and younger brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, Susanoo oversaw the sea but was driven out of the heavens after turning on his sister.
In the land of Izumo, Susanoo slayed the eight-headed dragon that terrorized the townsfolk and turned the tail into the sword and Japanese Imperial Treasure, Kusanagi, which he presented to Amaterasu.
Susanoo would go on to marry a girl he had saved from the dragon and produced multiple generations of gods.
Amaterasu-Omikami For the Japanese Imperial Family, it all started with the celestial sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami. Born from the left eye of Izanagi, Amaterasu was put in charge of the High Celestial Plain,
Takamagahara. Worship of Amaterasu is done at the Grand Shrine of Ise where she manifests within one of the three Imperial Treasures of Japan, a mirror used by the lesser gods to draw her out of seclusion once her brother, Susanoo, turned sour towards her shortly after the two produced children using Amaterasu’s jeweled necklace and her brother’s sword.
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