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Getting to Know Japanese Gods and Goddesses

If you study Shinto (also called the Way of the Gods), you will find that there is no founder attributed to the start of this belief system. Shintoism is regarded as the original religion of the Japanese and possesses no written text until the Buddhists arrived in the picture. Japanese mythology also has its roots traced back to Shinto, which teaches its followers to see all natural things and humans (no matter how lifeless), as having a spirit that varies in degrees of strength and energy.

Gods and goddesses played an important role in the belief of creation, and other historic tales associated with Japanese worship. For instance, it has been passed down that three beings emerged from an ancient, ocean mass, who is known to have become the ‘ones’ responsible for creating the many generations of gods and goddesses. The tale of Izanagi and Izanami show that they reached earth by traveling through a rainbow, but no land existed at the time.

Using his spear, Izanagi stirred the ocean and the drops from the tip of his spear formed the island of Ono-koro. The brother and sister duo then married and learned from two water birds how to make love. They produced offspring that included the rest of the islands of Japan, as well as other vital features, such as waterfalls, mountains, trees, and herbs. They even birthed the wind. The tale ends with the god of fire being the last to be born , an act that ending up killing Izanami.

To get to know the Japanese gods and goddesses connected to the myths and tales pertaining to their existence, consider the following:

Ama no Uzume: This fertility goddess was in charge of good crops.

Fugen Bosatsu: This god ruled over intuition and long life.

Haya-ji: As the God of the winds, he was also know as Haya-tsu-mujo no Kami , the ruler over whirlwinds as well.

Amaterasu: Known as the guardian of the Japanese people, she is seen as the ruler of all deities.  She played a rather important role, as she was in charge of weaving the sacred robes that the gods wore. This act is still followed by the Shinto priestesses of today. Amaterasu was also linked to the harvest, fertility, goodness, wisdom, peace, and compassion.

Benten: Also known as Benzaiten, this goddess is the only one that was associated with good luck. She is also known to protect residents from earthquakes, as well as bring wealth and romance to individuals.

Chimati no Kami: This god was not only linked to fertility, but was also known as the god of crossroads and footpaths.

Inari: Depending on the situation, Inari was a goddess and at times, the god of rice. Inari also ruled over shopkeepers, merchants, sword blades, and business.

Jizo Bosatsu: This Protector of Mankind is known for rescuing souls from hell. The dead, children, comfort, and protection from evil is what Jizo Bosatsu ruled over.

Kannon Bosatsu: Mercy and compassion was associated with this god, who was also known as Kannon and Kwannon.

Kaya nu Hima: In times of natural healing, this goddess ruled over herbs.

Emma-hoo: Also referred to as Emma-o, this god was known as the Ruler of the Underworld, who was associated with revenge, destruction, and of course, death.

Ida-ten: As the Guardian of the Law, this deity stood for purity, justice, and victory.