Home > Izanagi's Journey to Yomi-no-kuni, the Underworld > Part 2

To the Underworld (Yomi-no-kuni) and Back

Izanagi ran as fast as he could, but they started to catch up with him, so he threw his hair band on the ground behind him. It grew into a wild grapevine plant loaded with grapes. The hags could not help but to stop and eat the grapes, and Izanagi fled on. However, they ate more quickly than he expected, and soon were close to catching him again. So now he broke another tooth off of the comb in his hair and threw it on the ground. Bamboo shoots grew in the spot, and once again, the hags stopped to dig them up and eat them. Izanagi fled on.

Izanami then ordered the gods of thunder and an army of spirits of the underworld to chase after Izanagi. As they closed in on him, Izanagi took his sword from out of its sheath and swung it around furiously behind him as he continued to run on. It was of no use, as they continued to get closer and closer. But the entrance to the underworld, Yomotsu Hirasaka, came into view before him, and at its base, there was a peach tree growing. Izanagi plucked three peaches off the tree, and turning to face the army of the underworld, he threw them at his pursuers and drove them back into the depths of the underworld.

Not to be discouraged, now Izanami herself came chasing after Izanagi, so he took a great boulder and rolled it in front of the entrance to Yomi-no-kuni, forever separating it from the land of the living. Now standing on opposite sides of the boulder, Izanami and Izanagi said their final farewells.

First Izanami said, “Izanagi, for the shame you have caused me, every day I will kill one thousand inhabitants of this world you cherish so much.” To which Izanagi replied, “If you do that, I will create one thousand five hundred people every day.” And they never saw each other again.

After parting from Izanami, Izanagi bathed himself to wash away the impurities of the underworld. Many gods were created during this purification ceremony, but most importantly, as he was finishing bathing three gods were born. The sun goddess Amaterasu was born when he washed his left eye, and the moon deity Tsukuyomi was born when he washed his right one. When he washed his nose, the god Susano-o was born. Izanagi was pleased with his children, and gave them each a realm to rule: to Amaterasu he gave Takamagahara, the heavens, to Tsukuyomi the night, and to Susano-o the seas. While Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi happily took control of their realms, Susano-o did not. He acted out, rebelling against Amaterasu and the other gods in Takamagahara. It got so bad that he was driven out of Takamagahara and banished to earth.

This story continues in the legend of Yamata-no-Orochi.

These boulders stand in the place where Izanagi is said to have blocked up the entrance to the underworld.

“Yamata-no-Orochi” is one of the most famous Kagura performances in the present day.

Visiting Locations featured in the Yomi-no-kuni Myth

Yomotsu Hirasaka, the entrance to the underworld, is said to be in the Iya area of Matsue, just off of Route 9. It is a quiet, secluded place that is gloomy even on the clearest day, which creates an atmosphere appropriate to a place said to be a border between this world and the next. Several large boulders are in the area, and one wonders exactly which one was rolled over to block the entrance. Also near this area is Iya Shrine, and a slope near the shrine is said to be the same slope that led to the underworld’s entrance.

Izanami’s grave is said to be on the top of Mt. Hiba, and while there are several mountains with that name, Mt. Hiba in the Hakuta area of Yasugi City has a strong claim to being the actual place, as it is right on the border of eastern Shimane (the land of Izumo) and western Tottori (the land of Hoki). Kume Shrine, at the base of the mountain, enshrines Izanami as well.

Yomotsu Hirasaka

Yomotsu Hirasaka

Iya, Higashi Izumo cho, Matsue City, Shimane