EP9 Izumo Province (Mythological Creation)


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Show Notes for episode 9 of our Podcast – Izumo Province (Mythological Creation).

Story Notes

The story for today comes from the Izumo fudoki, written about the Japanese Province of Izumo. (Modern Day Shimane Prefecture)

This fudoki (which were created as way to record the histories and information pertaining to the various Provinces in Japan) is useful as it mentions myths not mentioned in the Kojiki and Nihongi. But sadly there are all mostly fragmentary. Luckily the one I want to tell today is in its entirety.

There was once a god known as Yatsukamizu Omitsuno.

Now this God, is neglected in the more famous narratives of the Nihongi and Kojiki. He is only mentioned as an offspring in the 5th generation from the God Hayasusanoo. This deity particular most likely refers to a water diety of some form. The omitsu from his name being ‘large water’ and his first name translating to something like ‘many measurements of water.’

Now this deity lived in the land of Izumo, however he finds it too small for his liking.

Izumo Province Mythological Creation
Modern Print of the Izumo Fudoki.

He says, ” The Country of Izumo, of the many clouds rising, is a land like a pile of narrow cloth. First the land was made small. Therefore, it ought to be sown larger.”

Now he starts thinking what he can do. Eventually his eyes turning to the land of Silla, (the name for the area of Korea at the time) where he hears that they have an excess of land there. He then attaches it to the land of Izumo to increase its size. But still unhappy he then preceeds to pull land from another 3 localities bordering the see of Japan. These being Saki Country, Yonami Country and the Tsutsu Cape.

It is said he achieves this by taking a hoe, shaped like the chest of a young girl, which he thrust down into the the gills of the large fish. The fish here representing the land. He tears it off with his tool and slowly, ever so slowly, brings the land over to Japan and sews it onto the province of Izumo.

Scholars think the Saki Country may refer to the area known as the Oki Islands (we have mentioned this island before in Episode 1 when the first islandof Japan were born). They also think in particular from this island chain, Saki country refers to Naka Island.

Yonami Country – This one is contended. Again some feel it relates to the Oki islands, however areas of the Shimane peninsula are thought possible.

Tsutsu Cape, is refered to be in Koshi. Koshi was a large swathe of land from middle of Honshu northerwards. There is (in the southern section of this large area) a peninsula called the Noto Peninsula. And upon it there is a Cape called the Suzu Cape. Which may have inspired and been changed to become the Tsutsu Cape of Izumo.

Poem Notes

We return today to Yasumi Roan, the writer of the Ryokō yōjinshū which documents his travel around Japan.

Now we don’t have the Japanese for this poem yet, and we hope to find it for you eventually.

Until then, please enjoy the Engish translation:

On a long journey, don’t take too much gear.
Settle on just a few things.
Take a lot – and you’ll suffer in equal measure.

References

  • Carlqvist, A. (2010) “The Land Pulling Myth and Some Aspects of Historical Reality”. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 37, No.2, pp.185-222. 
  • Wilson, W.S. (2016) “Afoot in Japan: A nineteenth century guide to walking the back roads.” Shambhala Publications.

Feature Image: Hinomisaki, Izumo by Kawase Hasui.

You can listen to the full episode over on Anchor here: Japan Archives, or wherever you listen to Podcasts.

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Be sure to check out Heather’s blog on lifes little adventures here: HeatherOverYonder.

Heavenly Spear