Izumo Fudoki

Hear about two myths from the Izumo Fudoki on Episode 9 and Bonus Episode 8 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Imaro and the Wani

Izumo Fudoki

Izumo Fudoki (出雲国風土記)  is a Fudoki (Regional Report) about Izumo Province, originally compiled in 733AD.

Authorship and Layout

Izumo Fudoki
Modern copy of the Izumo Fudoki.

Compiled by Miyake no Omi Kanatari and Izumo no Omi Hiroshima it consists of 11 Chapters in total. The first Chapter introduces the province and the procedures used to make this Fudoki. Chapter 2 to 10 talk of the nine districts (郡 – kōri) that make up the province. Chapter 2 also discusses the Ou District (意字郡) listing the administrative units of the district and then talks about the ‘Land Pulling Myth.’ Chapter 11 talks of the major roads in the province. Most of the myths within this fudoki are not mentioned in other works, and most are fragmentary, however two are complete; The Land Pulling Myth and Imaro and the Wani.

Surviving Copies

Five copies of this Fudoki have survived to modern day, however the oldest only dates back to 1597 and is called the hosokawa ke bon (細川家本). The other four are known as the kuranoshi hon (倉野氏本), hinomisaki jinja bon (日御碕神社本), kuwahara bunko bon (桑原文庫本) and manyōi bon (万葉緯本).

Land Pulling Myth

Some believe that this myth was likely included near the start of the Fudoki to mimic the Kojiki and Nihongi which start off with the mythological creation of the world through the Shinto Gods.

The tale relates how the Spirit Yatsukamizu Omitsuno finds this place too small, comparing it to a strip of narrow cloth. And so he looks across the ocean and finds places whose land is in excess.

First he sees Silla, and taking land from it using a hoe and dragging it with rope to Izumo he ties it to Kozu, which becomes Kidzuki Cape. He ties the rope to Sahime Mountain, the rope became Sono Long Beach.

Next he took from Saki Country, and tying it to Taku is became Sada Country. Then was Yonami Country, which he took from and tied to Unami, which became Kurami Country. Finally he took from the Tsutsu Cape in Koshi Province. The land he tied to Izumo became Miho Cape, and the rope he used became Yomi Island, the rope he tied to Hikami High Mountain.

Now satisfied he shouted ‘Owe!’ which is apparently why one district in Izumo Province was called Ou. He then thrusts he staff into the ground on an earthern mound to the north-east of the District Office in Ou.

Imaro and the Wani

Imaro and the Wani
Imaro and the Wani by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Imaro and the Wani is a short myth written down in the Izumo Fudoki. In the province of Izumo, there was a woman walking along a beach in the Province. But this particular day there was a particular Wani on the beach also that day. The Wani attacks and eats her.

Her father becomes filled with rage, and asked the gods of Izumo to come to his aid. And they answer him,

Upon the beach he saw one hundred wani appear before him, all encircling one in their particular group, the one who killed his daughter.

Imaro slaughtered this killer, opening up the body to find the shin of a woman inside of its stomach. And so having finished his work, he felt his daughter had been suitably avenged.

Nature

The Izumo Fudoki, and other contemporary sources, talks of a possible vine known as the ‘frosty kurodazura’ (霜黒葛) however no known modern equivelant is known.1

Footnotes

1. 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.

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