Origin of Japan Land of Myths Miyazaki
World of gods as told in Kojiki and Nihonshoki
Japan’s most ancient history book “Kojiki (712)” tells the lineage of gods to emperors and myths. Miyazaki is stage for many stories of reign such as “Kuniumi” and “Tenson Korin”. Nihonshoki (720), which is written in classic Chinese writing, is an official history book arranged chronologically from Tenchi Kaibyaku - Japanese creation myth - to the emperor’s achievements compiled with foreign countries such as China and Korea in mind.
Together they are referred to as “Kiki”, and introduces numerous myths and legends staged in Himuka no Kuni (ancient name of Miyazaki).
Story of creation by the gods: Legend of “Kuniumi”
When the heaven and earth split, the first god appeared in heaven above, Takaamahara. Gods multiplied and eventually a male god Izanaki no Kami and female god Izanami no Kami was born. The two gods created the island of Japan one after another and eventually completed the Japanese archipelago. From them were born 35 gods including the god of mountains and god of the sea, and Izanami no Kami suffers from a burn and dies giving birth to the god of fire. Soaked with grief, Izanaki no Kami chases his wife down to the underworld, Yomi no kuni, but makes a hastened return after seeing how horrible she appeared. Izanaki no Kami performs a purification ritual, Misogi, to clean himself, and myths tell us that Susanoo no Mikoto, Tsukuyomi no Mikoto, and Amaterasu Oomikami were born at the end of this ritual.
Kojiki tells us this ritual was performed in Awakigahara in Himuka, where water lilies bloom beautifully in the Misogi pond in the summer and nearby Eda shrine enshrines Izanaki no Kami and Izanami no Kami. The name Awakigahara still remains in Miyazaki city.
The goddess of the sun’s revival: legend of “Amano iwato gakure”
One day, rambunctious Susanoo no Mikoto comes to visit the sun goddess Amaterasu Oomikami, born at the end of Izanaki no Kami’s Misogi ritual. He grieves his lost mother and cries out loud all day. Tired and at a loss of what to do with her howling brother, Amaterasu hides away in the Amano iwato (heavenly rock cave). The world is suddenly enveloped by darkness where evil gods freely roam and disasters happen one after another. At a wits end, numerous gods gather at Amanoyasugawara looking for advice from Omohikane no Kami. Much thanks to the works of Amenouzume no Mikoto, the land was shaken by loud voices of the gods which lured out Amaterasu Oomikami, curious of the commotion. Light instantly returns to the world and peace is restored.
In Iwato, Takachiho, the land of the myth and the name, you will find Amano iwato shrine that enshrines Amaterasu Oomikami, and “Amanoyasugawara”, the land with hidden caves and where the gods gathered are located very close to Amato shrine.
God descends on a fruitful land to conquer all: Legend of “Tenson Korin”
Amaterasu Oomikami in heaven orders grandson Ninigi no Mikoto to descend on earth to rule over the world below. Ninigi no Mikoto lands in the mountain ridges of Takachiho and chooses to live in Himuka, where the morning sun shines straight into the land and the sunset glimmers. He builds a palace in the fruitful land and begins life on earth. He meets beautiful Konohana no sakuya hime and marries her. After Konohana no sakuya hime becomes pregnant after one night, Ninigi no Mikoto has doubts of who the father is. To prove her children is indeed children of a god she locks herself in a “Utsumuro” and gives birth to 3 babies in flaming fire.
You can now take an hour-long tour along “Kiki no michi”, an approximately 4km path related to this legend starting with Tsuma shrine where Konohana no sakuya hime is enshrined, Aisomegawa river where the couple met, Utsumuro remains, “Koyu no ike” pond which is said to be where the babies first had their baths, and the ancient tomb where Ninigi no Mikoto and Konohana no sakuya hime is said to rest.
Conflict between god of the sea and god of mountains around “Aoshima”, a forest floating in the sea: Legend of Umisachi Yamasachi
One of three children born between Ninigi no Mikoto and Konohana no sakuya hime - Hoderi no Mikoto was called Umisachihiko (prince of fortune of sea) and hunted fish in the sea, and little brother Hoori no Mikoto was called Yamasachihiko (prince of fortune of the mountains) and hunted game in the mountains. One day, little brother Yamasachihiko begged to borrow his older brother’s fishhook. Yamasachihiko tried fishing, to no avail, and lost Umisachihiko’s valued hook. Umisachihiko was not forgiving and would not accept apologies. Yamasachihiko cried his tears out by the sea. That is when Shio tsuchi no Kami appeared and guided him to the kingdom of the sea, to the palace under the sea. Yamasachihiko meets Toyotamahime, the daughter of the sea king, and spends 3 years together in fond love. Eventually Yamasachihiko remembers his mission to find the fishhook and asks the god of the sea for advice. Hearing the story, the god of the sea summoned all the fishes in the sea to find the hook, and gave Yamasachihiko a “spell” to punish Umisachihiko and a “magic ball” that can control the tide.
Yamasachihiko returns to his homeland and delivers the damned fishhook to his brother, handing over bad fortune and hardship. Umisachihiko envies and blames Yamasachihiko and attacks his brother, who uses the magic ball to fill the tide and drowns Umisachihiko. After Umisachihiko surrendered, Yamasachihiko lowered the tide and rescued him. Since then, Umisachihiko has served his brother Yamasachihiko.
A limited express train runs in the deep green field by the bright Pacific Ocean from Miyazaki to Nango station in Nichinan city, tracing back the “Umisachi Yamasachi legend”. This is a “Umisachi Yamasachi train” richly made with local Obi cedar providing a warm and luxurious feel. The train makes a stop in the beautiful and magnificent Aoshima, where the whole island stands within the boundaries of Aoshima shrine, worshiping three gods - Yamasachihiko, his wife Toyotama hime, and Shio tsuchi no kami, he who guided Yamasachihiko down to the kingdom of the sea. The rocky stretch around the island is called “Oni no sentakuita (ogre’s washing board)” and is said to be where Yamasachihiko landed. In the cave facing the ocean at Nichinan Kaigan Quasi-National Park stands Udo shrine’s vividly vermilion-lacquered inner shrine. This place is said to be where Toyotama him gave birth to Yamasachihiko’s two children, who are worshiped here.
Heading east from Himuka to rule the land: “Jimmu Tosei” legend
The grandson of Hoori no Mikoto (Yamasachihiko’s brother), son of Konohana no sakuya hime, is named Kamu Yamato Ihare biko no Mikoto and later becomes Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan. He leaves Mimitsu port in Himuka to conquer the land in peace, and heads toward Yamato in the east (currently the Kinki area) by sea.
His expedition is called “Jimmu Tosei”, where he led an army from Himuka to Yamato and defeated men along the way, establishing the Yamato kingdom. The story is told in both Kojiki and Nihonshoki.
Miyazaki has many historical sited related to Emperor Jimmu, including his birthplace Ojibaru shrine (Takahara, Nishimorokata-gun), Komamiya shrine (Nichinan city), where he spent his childhood, the supposed former imperial palace (Miyazaki city), Miyazaki shrine (Miyazaki city), where Emperor Jimmu is enshrined, and the monument commemorating the “Birthplace of Japanese Navy” in Mimitsu port (Hyuga city), where Emperor Jimmu supposedly started his Tosei expedition. Every year in late October, citizens of Miyazaki dress up as gods and walk from downtown to Miyazaki shrine during the “Miyazaki shrine festival”, also known as “Jimmu sama” and has been a popular local even from the old days.
To show appreciation for all gods that exist in all nature and to preserve the scenery of ancient legends, Miyazaki has over 200 kagura. This “kagura”, a dedication in shrines and local communities” shows how the many myths and legends that provide a feel of everlasting time still alive in people’s lives, is respected and continuously inherited across generations.
Miyazaki, where you can feel the “Origin of Japan”. Blessed with rich nature and ingredients, you will enjoy Miyazaki through all four seasons. Take delight in the delicious foods, and immerse yourself in the adventures of the Japanese legend.
|Interview||Kiki Compilation Commemorative and Promotional Office, Miyazaki Culture Revival Division, General Policy Department, MiyazakiMr. Ryuhei Tanaka, Chief Examiner|
Miyazaki is known as the birthplace of Japanese legends, and is the place where many ancient myths and legends are told. Areas associated with the legend spread across the prefecture, and myths and legends have been alive in people’s lives.
Miyazaki recognizes the area’s traditional culture inherited for generations, such as the Himuka myth and kagura, and have been active with “Kiki Compilation Commemorative and Promotional businesses” to connect people and revitalize communities.
2020 will mark 1300 years after Nihonshoki’s compilation, and Miyazaki plans to host a “National Cultural Festival” that year. Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held the same year, and we hope to take these opportunities to communicate our culture, Himuka myth, kagura, and our food out to other parts of Japan and overseas.
We are proud to have a great variety of over 200 “kagura”, which are cherished and inherited in all parts of the prefecture as a part of their lifestyle.
In kagura, mythical gods and local gods appear and perform passionate and mythical dances passed down for generations.
In order to succeed this cherished kagura of Miyazaki to the next generation, we will continually promote the diversity and appeal of kagura to people in and out of Miyazaki, which ultimately helps to actively promote our prefecture, “Miyazaki, origin of myths”.