Shinto Kojiki Verses on Divine Creation

Amaterasu shinto sun Wikicommons 700

Shinto means the Way of the Gods. It is a traditional, indigenous belief system with no revered founder, regarding all things as having their own spiritual divinity. Revering the deities, or kami, inherent in the natural environment, the followers of Shinto recognize that spirits are present in plants, animals, oceans, waterfalls, land, mountains, and even stones.

In any place around the world where followers of Shinto reside, the beauty of Nature will be present and lovingly nurtured. In Japan, beautiful groves of trees are widely preserved as shrines, as places of prayer and ritual worship. Especially helpful in Japan’s busy cities, the Japanese Shintoists conjoin modernity with the past and find a refuge in the sacred groves in which the kami deities are enshrined.

image (Image note and source: A sacred grove surrounding a Shinto shrine is entered through a “torii,” the traditional Shinto gate. Wikicommons)

The Shinto Kojiki Text

Although Shinto has many sacred texts, no single document contains primary doctrinal scriptures. There are, however, two main texts considered sacred by every Shinto denomination. These are the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. Ordered in the 7th century AD by Japanese Emperor Tenmu, the compilation of the Kojiki was completed in the 8th century by the courtier O no Yasomaro.

In his article about the Kojiki on faithology.com, Joseph Elacqua explains that the Kojiki was based on recitations of ancient oral traditions. The recitations were given to O no Yasomaro by a person named Hieda no Are, and the resulting compilation is considered the oldest and most complete Shinto text in existence today.

Elacqua explains that, although not tied to any specific Shinto doctrine, the Kojiki relates the mythological foundations and historical records that have formed the basis of Japan’s religious and cultural traditions ever since.

Creation According to Shinto

Volume one of the Kojiki describes the details of Creation, and although the heavens are already in existence, the Earth appears without land. The Kojiki offers a lovely narration of the creation of land, recognized as Kami, or divine children, in the form of island countries. It subsequently details the creation of all of the following Kami deities, culminating with the appearance of Ninigi no Mikoto, a grandson of Kami Amaterasu Omikami.

Kami Amaterasu Omikami, seen in the top image, takes the form of the shining sun and is represented still today as the red sun on the Japanese flag. Her grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto is invested with the Earth in order to cultivate rice, and in this honorable endeavor he initiates the noble lineage of the Japanese emperors.

The Shinto Jinja Honcho, which is the representative body of all Shinto Shrines in Japan, offers the following narrative:

“In the beginning of the universe there appeared various Kami, or deities from the chaos. A pair of male and female deities appeared at the end and gave birth first to islands, their natural environment, and then to several more deities who became ancestors of the Japanese.”

image (Image note and source: Izanagi and Izanami from Japanese graphic novel, screenshot from sarudama.com)
 

Earthly Interpretations of the Invisible Shinto Divine

The following lines from the Kojiki describe the initial creation of land on Earth by two grandchildren of the deities “born in the Plain of High Heaven when the Heaven and Earth began.” It is an exciting love story, revered in Japan still today, even found in the form of Japanese graphic novels.

Several of the original divine offspring, especially of the two lovers Izanagi, or the Male-Who-Invites; and Izanami, the Female-Who-Invites, are presented here. I have edited public domain images from pixabay and wikimedia commons to help illustrate with earthly interpretations the invisible Shinto divine:
 
 
image “(The names of the deities that were born next…) …when the earth, young and like unto floating oil, drifted about medusa-like…”
 
 
image “So the two deities, standing upon the Floating Bridge of Heaven pushed down the jeweled spear and stirred with it, whereupon, when they had stirred the brine till it went curdle-curdle, and drew the spear up, the brine that dripped down from the end of the spear was piled up and became an island. This is the Island of Onogoro.”
 
 
image “When they had finished giving birth to countries, they began afresh giving birth to deities. …next they gave birth to the deity Rock-Earth-Prince…”
 
 
image “…Next, they gave birth to the deity of Trees…”
 
 
Interested? Read more at Sacred-Texts.com

For more beautiful verses and images, see the previous articles in EdenKeepers’ Saturday series on Creation and Nature in Sacred Scriptures:

Water’s Beauty in Nature and Islam

Creation & Stewardship in the Hebrew & Christian Bible With Images

Creation in the Christian New Testament Bible

Sikh Hymns Illuminate Creation and Creator

Verses in Buddhism on Humankind and Creation

Hinduism Verses on God, Creation, and Mother Nature

Jainism’s Tattvartha Sutra Verses on Creation

Confucius on Heaven, Earth, and Humanity

Verses and Images on Daoism, Nature, Yin, and Yang

more to come, God Willing…

Please feel free to download and share these images, and don’t forget to hit the social media share buttons, as well. Also, please leave a comment below with your favorite verses on Nature or Creation and be sure to include its source, so it can be considered in an upcoming article in this series. We are hoping to cover every faith possible, and your help is very welcome!
 
 
 
(Top image note and source: Kami Amaterasu Omikami, in the form of the shining sun, wikicommons, edited by A.A.)
 

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About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid (Birth-name Kathleen Vail) is a freelance lifestyle and environmental science writer currently living in Vancouver, BC. Her interests include environmental conservation, climate science, renewable energy, faith-based environmental activism, sustainable economics, corporate social responsibility, creative lifestyles, and healthy living.