T a k a c h i h o   Y o k a g u r a
高 千 穂 夜 神 楽

 

 

 Yokagura, or night kagura, is said to have originated from the time when the goddess Amenouzume performed an interesting dance as a part to lure the sun goddess Amaterasu from the cave in which she enclosed herself offended by the misdeeds of Susanoo, her younger brother. Susanoo did not perform his duty of ruling the sea as the father god told him, kept crying for the mother and directed various boorish and tabooed actions against Amaterasu, which caused her to retreat to a cave. The name of Amaterasu means “emblaze heaven and earth”, so due to her hiding the universe was plunged into darkness and chaos. Seizing on the confusion evil thrived. Something must be done. The gods discussed and held a wild party. The party came to full swing when Amenouzume started dancing, her clothes fell off during her energetic move and other gods cheered and applauded loudly — it was ear splitting noise. Curious about the merriment, Amaterasu peeped out of the cave. Amenouzume held up a mirror and told Amaterasu that we are celebrating for joy because a goddess, nobler than you, has come to us. Who, in the world, is nobler than me? Amaterasu emerged to see the new goddess but saw her own reflection. Tajikarao promptly shut the stone door behind Amaterasu and sealed it with shimenawa, sacred straw rope. The sun shine returned. This sexy dance is an origin of kagura.

Tajikarao, a god known for his great strength, has removed the stone door of the cave. 

 Izanagi and Izanami, the god and goddess, who created Japan, as they make and drink sake. The dance is known as the Creation of Japan Dance or Goshintai (sacred object) Dance. Yokagura is a repertoire of 33 ancient dances. The gods in these dances appear very human, as they play, eat and even have affairs. The Yokagura is performed to thank for a good harvest, and as a prayer for next year’s harvest.

 

 

 

 

Amanohashidate, Kyoto

 Amanohashidate, which forms a sand bar thickly covered with pine trees, is located on the Tango Peninsula in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture. Amanohashidate literally means a bridge to heaven. It is said to look like the Green Bridge to Heaven when you look at Amanohashidate between your own legs (matanozoki) from there. 
According to a legend, Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japanese archipelagos, used a ladder between the heaven and the earth. However for some reasons the bridge broke down in one night and formed the landscapes of Amanohashidate. 

 

Kirishima 
(霧島)

 

 As soon as heaven and earth began the initial ancestor god Amenominakanushi was born in Takamagahara followed by Takamimusubi, Kamimusubi and other gods. At the end, two major gods appeared, Izanagi and Izanami (inviting male and inviting female). Ordered by Amenominakanushi, Izanagi and Izanami created the Japanese archipelago from a jelly like mass far down Takamagahara – Awaji, Shikoku, Oki, Kyushu, Iki, Tsushima, Sado and finally the biggest land Honshu, all of which were called Toyoashihara Mizuho no kuni collectively. They checked out their handiwork, and found that it was good and promptly moved down. Then they by discovering sexual union gave birth to the gods such as wind god, sea god, mountain god, field god, river god and fire god. But during the delivery of the fire god Izanami was burnt to death. Izanagi killed the fire god in anger but Izanami had gone to the land of dead already. Izanagi went to the land of dead to bring the goddess back, but Izanami told him she had already eaten the food of the lower land so could not return. However, she added, – I would discuss the matter with the netherworld gods so please wait here. So Izanagi waited the goddess but after a while he was getting tired of waiting and, against Izanami’s warning, went farther into the palace. He found there the goddess lying on the bed; her body was almost rotten away that smelled terribly and around her body small scare looking gods crouched down – they were gods born from the impurity of the goddess. Frightened Izanagi fled away as fast as his legs carried and Izanami, accusing him of embarrassing her so badly, chased him furiously. Izanagi managed to get to the gate of the lower land from which Izanami could not step out. Raising her fist, the goddess in thunder look shouted after him – for your misdeed I will kill humans one thousand a day! No problem! I will produce one and half-thousand of humans a day! – Izanagi shouted back so and went back to the higher land.

 

After the lower land of dead Izanagi wanted to clean him, went to a river and wash his body. While cleaning his body he gave birth to several gods one after another and finally the best three gods, Amaterasu, Tsukiyomi, and Susanoo were born while washing his eyes. Izanagi ordered Amaterasu to rule the Takamagahara, Tuskiyomi the night, and Susanoo the sea.

Amaterasu is the ultimate ancestress of Japan’s emperors. She is the grandmother of the legendary first unifier of Japan, Ninigi, and great-grandmother of the first emperor, Jimmu..  Amaterasu ordered her grandson Ninigi to rule the lands Toyoashihara that Izanagi and Izanami created. So Ninigi, attended by Sarutahiko, Amenouzume, Tajikarao, and other mighty gods, descended to the lands. First they reached Kushifurudake, a saw-toothed peak of Mt. Takachiho, went to Karakunidake, and down to the sea. Finally they reached the headland of Kasasa, in Hyuga. Ninigi liked the place and made a palace there.

 

From the top of Mt. Karakuni you will find a splendid panorama view facing Mt. Takachiho, where Japanese gods came down. Kirishima mountain range was the first area designated as a national park in Japan, as well as a natural treasure with 23 volcanoes, hot springs and crater lakes.

 

 


Copyright (C) 2002-2006: Kari Gröhn. All rights reserved.

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