Myth-Folklore Unit: Japanese Mythology

Overview. This unit includes stories from  The Romance of Old Japan about the gods Izanagi and Izanami and their children: the sun goddess Amaterasu and her brother Susanowo. You will see what happened when Amaterasu withdrew her light from the world, and you will also read about the death of Izanami and how Izanagi ventured into the land of the dead, hoping to rescue her. The unit includes tales of the progeny of the gods also, such as Ninigi, who brought the sacred Jewels, Sword, and Mirror of heaven down to the earth, and his sons, the rivalrous brothers Prince Fire-Fade and Prince Fire-Flame who quarreled over a magical fishhook. There are hero legends, too, such as the story of Yamato, his devoted wife Tacibana, and the sea goddess Benten who brought such grief into their lives. You will also meet the great Empress Jingu who, transformed by the goddess Amaterasu into an indomitable warrior, captured the Jewel of Heart's Desire and brought it back to Japan in triumph.

Language. Most of these stories are retellings in modern English prose, although there are also a few stories here which are told in verse, and there are some translation of Japanese poetry included in the prose stories.

Story Length. Most of these are two-page stories, with a first set of stories being about the primordial gods and goddess, and then a second set of stories about the hero Yamato. There are also several famous legends at the end of the unit.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Japanese Mythology. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. Izanagi and Izanami
  2. Izanagi and Izanami (cont.)
  3. The Miraculous Mirror
  4. The Eight-Forked Serpent of Koshi
  5. The Heaven-Descended
  6. The Heaven-Descended (cont.)
  7. The Fortunate Fish-Hook
  8. The Fortunate Fish-Hook (cont.)
  9. The Labors of Yamato - The Rescue of the Princess
  10. The Rescue of the Princess (cont.)
  1. The Labors of Yamato - The Grotto of Love
  2. The Labors of Yamato - The Golden Apple
  3. The Labors of Yamato - The Demon Boar
  4. The Labors of Yamato - The Grass-Cleaving Sword
  5. The Labors of Yamato - The Sacred Sword
  6. The Sacred Sword (cont.)
  7. The Labors of Yamato - The Dragon
  8. The Dragon (cont.)
  9. The Faery Robe
  10. The Jewel of Heart's Desire: The Land of Morning Calm
  11. The Quest of the Jewel
  12. Urashima