Monday, March 22, 2010
When it comes to where you go after death, the Japanese have had multiple places to believe in. Probably the most common nowadays is the Pure Land of Buddhism, and also the christian notion of heaven has had some influence. Before the introduction of Buddhism there were several places, Ne no Kuni (land of the root), Tokoyo no Kuni, the land of everlasting life that lay across or under the sea, but the classic version is Yomi, the land of the dead.
Yomi is where Izanami went to after giving birth to the kami of fire caused her death. Her partner, Izanagi, was under strict instructions not to follow her, but he did anyway and discovered a place underground filled with rotting corpses. The description of Yomi reads like the inside of a tomb. Anyway, Izanagi was chased by the hideous guardians of Yomi and only managed to escape by blocking the entrance with boulders.
The entrance to Yomi is up in Izumo, not far from Matsue, just off Route 9. One would think that the entrance to hell would be a big deal, but its actually hard to find, marked with a handpainted sign up a small farm road. The farmer who lives next to it doesnt seem at all bothered by it.
A few kilometres away is Kamosu Shrine, and this is where Izanagi stopped and rested after fleeing Yomi. Afterwards he purified himself with water to get rid of the pollution of death, and in the process created Amaterasu and Susano, among others.