The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli’s Animated Worlds

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli’s Animated Worlds – Ever since the first man walked the earth, the values, vices, and ethos observed about any group of people at any given time can be traced back to supernatural entities—gods, devils, angels, demons, and everything in between.

From the Romans to the Greeks to the Egyptians and many other cultures, there is a cult that represents a common element of their polytheistic societies at some point in history.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli’s Animated Worlds

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is no exception, its cult reflecting the country’s historical sense of self.

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Japan has a rich history of mythology that dates back more than 2,000 years. As a result, the influence of the Asian country’s cult is visible in many parts of its culture.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

From Amaterasu, the queen mother, to Susano, the fiery bull, and the abandoned child, Yebisu, let’s take a look at the major deities who shaped the culture and value systems of what we now know as modern Japan.

Izanagi — Izanagi no Mikoto, which translates as “He Who Invites” and Izanami — Izanami no Mikoto, which translates as “She Who Invites” — were the primordial divine beings believed to be responsible for the creation of the Earth.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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According to records, the brother and sister duo were tasked by the previous generation of kami (divine beings) to bring order to the chaos beneath the heavenly realm.

They cut off the first landmass in existence and named it Onogoro-shima. Onogoro-shima came as an island and is believed to be the foundation of the New World.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Izanagi and Izanami continued their creative explorations into the genre, cutting through the chaotic ocean to produce more land masses, eventually creating what we now know as the eight main islands of Japan.

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During their journey of creation, Izanagi and Izanami came together and their union resulted in over 800 kami. The creative process, unfortunately, comes at a price.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

After all, the gods are not fair. For example, at the birth of the fire god Kagutsuchi, Izanami died of excruciating pain and was later sent to the afterlife (yomi).

Distraught, Izanagi tries her best to resurrect her sister Izanami and almost succeeds, after persuading the Elder Gods to return her to the world of the living.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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But ironically, his restlessness led to his failure. Panicked after waiting too long, Izanagi takes an initially stupid look at his sister’s “undead” state. bad idea It was a sight for curious eyes; Izanami was unrecognizable, his body already rotting and decomposing.

Furious and insulted, Izanami orders his evil thunder kami minions after him, while Izanagi flees in fear and disgust. In the end, Izanagi was barely able to escape by completely blocking Yomi’s gateway.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

To avoid the unpleasant effects of his last visit to the underworld, Izanagi cleansed himself through a cleansing ritual. Izanagi was finally free, but there was a twist.

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The purification ritual rid him of his demons, but also gave birth to new Japanese deities, called

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Some of these deities include Amaterasu, the sun goddess, Tsuki-yomi, the moon god, and Susanoo, the storm god.

Amaterasu was born from the washing of the left eye, Tsuki-yomi from the washing of the right eye, and Susanoo from the washing of the nose. Therefore, harai, or purification in Japanese culture, plays an important role in the ritual before visiting holy shrines.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

God Susano: A Powerful Deity In Japanese Mythology

Hiruko, translated as “leech child”, is the first child of the primordial gods and goddesses Izanagi and Izanami. Due to his parents’ transgression during the marriage ceremony, he was cursed from birth and born boneless. However, her story is one of determination, perseverance and resilience.

According to Shinto legends, he was abandoned to die in the chaotic seas of Earth, drifting endlessly out to sea at the age of three. Despite this amazing ordeal, somehow Hiroko managed to survive as a child, making him a piece of land –

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

After overcoming many challenges, Hiruko changed his name to Ebisu or Yebisu, a reminder of his divinity as the patron deity of fishermen, children, and most importantly, prosperity and wealth.

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Regarding the latter’s divine authority, Japanese mythology regards the first born as the chief deity of the Seven Gods of Fate (Shichifukjin).

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Ebisu didn’t let tragedy and life’s circumstances define him. He was imagined as a carefree deity with a cheerful disposition (commonly referred to as the “laughing god”). His pair is incomplete without a pair

Kagutsuchi, also known as Homusubi, which translates as “fire-lighter”, is another descendant of the ancient Izanagi and Izanami, the god of fire in Japan. He is best known for his destructive nature.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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His fiery spirit tragically scorched his mother, Izanami, during her birth, causing her to disappear and enter the Underworld.

Izanagi, her father, beheaded Kagutsuchi in anger and revenge for causing the death of his sister and lover. Many kami later arose from the spilled blood, including gods of battle thunder, mountain gods, and even a dragon god.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

In simple terms, Kagutsuchi was worshiped as the progenitor of many mighty and powerful gods. Its flames are also said to have inspired the development of iron and weapons in Japan.

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In terms of history and culture, Kagutsuchi is the god of destructive fire, who is understood to have killed his mother, seen as a potential harbinger of fire’s destruction for most Japanese structures of wood and other combustible materials.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

In the Japanese Shinto religion, he is the subject of various rituals to appease, one of which is

Translated as “Great Sun of Kami”, the Japanese goddess of the rising sun and ruler of the Kami realm, as it is otherwise called.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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Her divine authority as queen of kami (ruler of all divine beings) was later granted to her by Izanagi. The Goddess of the Rising Sun represents the majesty, order and purity of the rising sun with its divine quality.

His status in Japanese pantheon is unparalleled. Japanese mythology tells the story of a time when the world was shrouded in darkness, losing its bright aura (symbolizing the bright sun) after its disappearance. This happened after having a serious quarrel with Susanoo, the storm god, and locking himself in a cave.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Only after a series of amusing diversionary tactics and practical jokes devised by the other Japanese gods is he persuaded to emerge from the cave, revealing the bright sunlight once more.

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In terms of cultural lineage, the Japanese imperial dynasty is said to be descended from Ninigi-no-mikoto, the grandson of Amaterasu, who was allowed to rule the land from his grandmother.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Or simply Tsukiomi, holds divine authority over the moon. Some myths claim that he was created from a white copper crystal that Izanagi held in his right hand during his purification ritual.

After marrying his sister Amtarasu, the sun goddess, their divine authorities aligned, resulting in the sun and moon merging into the same sky.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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However, Tsukiomi’s killing of Uke Mochi, the goddess of food, eventually ended this electrifying union. It is believed that the moon god did this heinous act out of displeasure at seeing Uke Mochi spilling so much food.

In light of their breakup, Amaterasu separated from Tsukiyomi and moved to a different realm of the sky, finally separating day and night. Talk about family drama!

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

He descended from Izanagi’s nose, naturally gifted with control over the Domain of the Stormy Seas.

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And the Japanese pantheon in general because of the symbiotic relationship between his personality and his divine authority.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

As you probably already know, hurricanes are usually very violent and constantly changing. The same can be said about Susano’s temperament.

According to mythology, her temperamental personality serves as the fuel to ignite her control over chaotic storms. Storms, an essential part of his divine attributes, also affect his mood and personality.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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Whenever Susanoo is moody, storms rage and the stronger the storm, the more fluctuating her emotions. So his anger stirs up storms and the storms fuel his anger.

This creates a cycle where Susanoo can technically become infinitely stronger in battle, making him one of the most powerful gods in Japanese pantheon.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

In Shinto mythology, Susanoo is often praised as the honest hero who drank from the ten heads of an evil dragon (or monstrous snake).

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Alluding to the storm god’s chaotic nature, the myth also tells stories of Susanoo’s wickedness, particularly his rivalry with Amaterasu, the sun goddess and queen of the gods.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

Once, their conflict turned sour when Susano, due to his chaotic nature, lost control and went on a rampage. He destroyed Amaterasu’s rice fields and also killed one of her servants.

Enraged, Amaterasu retreated into a cave, blocking her divine light, plunging the entire realm into darkness. Susanoo, on the other hand, left heaven, never to return.

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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Rajin and Fujin are powerful kami who have control over the natural elements. You can think of them as two opposite sides of the same coin, but still the same entity. As a result, they can be either sympathetic or indifferent to the fate of mortals, an unwelcome caveat given their divine qualities.

Rajin

The Role Of Japanese Mythology And Legends In Studio Ghibli's Animated Worlds

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