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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Feature: God Collection and the Shinto Culture Behind Them, Part 2


Continuing from Part 1, we are looking into the Shinto culture tidbits found in the God Collection songs, which are based on Japanese mythological gods as the name implies.

Like the circle's contribution in the Historic Figures Series (not yet a Song Series Showcase for the Taiko Time blog) playing off Himiko and Prince Shotoku, the two song created by IOSYS talents for the collection features alternate world views with inspirations from the source materials.

私立高天原学園高校・校歌 Shiritsu Takama-ga-hara Gakuen Koukou Kouka
From the Shinto mythology, Takama-ga-hara (高天原, 'Plain of High Heaven') is the dwelling place of the kami, which in the second D.watt Taiko song is used as the setting of the private school where the neo-born gods from the chapters of Kamiumi (神産み 'Birth of the Gods') are getting their first education by their teacher and father Izanagi (イザナギ). He's considered to be one of the gods of creation, as Izanagi (together with his spouse and younger sister Izanami) has given life to the first generation of kamiumi (Shintoism's deities) as well as the land's formation on Earth. This is also at the basis of the expression Yaoyorozu no Kami, or '8 Million of Gods' (八百万神, also written as やおよろずのかみ), which ultimately addresses the number 8 as a sacred number and the expression itself to address a countless amount.

Izanagi's students in the song happen to be his 17 natural sons, originated from the union with Izanami:
  • Ookotooshio (大事忍男神)
  • Iwatsuchibiko (石土毘古神)
  • Iwasuhime (石巣比売神)
  • Ootohiwake (大戸日別神)
  • Ame-no-fukio (大戸日別神)
  • Ooyabiko (大屋毘古神)
  • Kazamotsuwake-no-oshio (風木津別之忍男神)
  • Oowatatsumi (大綿津見神)
  • Hayaakitsuhiko (速秋津日子神)
  • Hayaakitsuhime (速秋津比売神)
  • Shinatsuhiko (志那都比古神)
  • Kukunochi (久久能智神)
  • Ooyamatsumi (大山津見神)
  • Kaya-no-hime (鹿屋野比売神)
  • Tori-no-iwakusufune (鳥之石楠船神)
  • Oogetsuhime (大宜都比売神)
  • Hi-no-kagutsuchi (火之迦具土神)

In Shiritsu Takama-ga-hara Koukou Kouka, all of the 1st-generation kamiumi's names can also be heard during Izanagi's student call, shortly after chanting the Nirei Nihakushu Ichirei (二礼二拍手一礼, lit. 'Two Bows, Two Claps, One Bow'). Also known as Nihai Nihakushu Ippai (二拝二拍手一拝), this is the ritualistic sequence of gestures performed at Shinto temples to worship their gods and be thankful for the gifts received in life.

Coming to Izanagi's subject teachings, it looks like that the main topic is geography, as the islands originated thanks to Izanami in the Birth of the Islands chapter (or Kuniumi, 国産み) are mentioned:
  • Ahaji-no-ho-no-sawake-no-shima (淡道之穂之狭別島)
  • Iyo-no-futana-no-shima (伊予之二名島)
  • Oki-no-mitsugo-no-shima (隠伎之三子島)
  • Tsukushi-no-shima (筑紫島)
  • Iki-no-shima (伊伎島)
  • Tsu-shima (津島)
  • Sado-no-shima (佐度島)
  • Ohoyamatotoyoakitsu-shima (大倭豊秋津島)
My Muscle Heart
The infamous 'fictional Anime Opening' Namco Original depicts one of the episodes being narrated in the so-called 'Quelling of the Middle Country' chapter, where the gods of Takama-ga-hara are planning to conquer the terrestrial world, dubbed by the deities as Ashihara-no-Nakatsu-Kuni (葦原中国). Chief god of sword and thunder Takemikazuchi (タケミカヅチ) -also known as Kashima-no-kami (建御雷神)- was put in charge of dealing with the earth deities, among which was Inaba's Takeminakata (タケミナカタ, also 建御名方神), the so-dubbed 'Divine Wind of Suwa' and the only one among his brothers to oppose to the invader.

The fight between the two gods has been dubbed by the Shinto mythology as the precursor of sumo fighting, as the close combat was dictated by the two fighters' muscular strength. With Takemikazuchi having one of his hands turned into a sword by the opponent and Takeminakata outright losing one of his, the latter challenger had to retreat to the sea nearby Suwa of Shirano and to ultimately surrender to Takemikazuchi.

Takeminakata is the son of Ookuninushi (大国主), the kami known as the 'Great Land Ruler' and former chief of Izumo Province. The reason of why Takeminakata happens to be surrounded by white bunnies in My Muscle Heart's song and fictional Anime synopsis is a connection to a myth concerning his father and the Hare of Inaba, or Inaba no Shirousagi (因幡の白兎). In this tale, Ookuninushi has been the only one among his eighty brothers to show true empathy for a talking bunny who asked to be washed of its fatigues, and in turn the Hare of Inaba revealed itself to be an ancient deity, foretelling the generous man that he would be married to princess Yakami.

天照 Amaterasu
Also known as Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神/天照大御神/天照皇大神) or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami (大日孁貴神), Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun and the universe, as well as the sister of sea ruler Susanoo-no-Mikoto and moon god Tsukuyomi. This trio of gods was born from a purification ritual that Izanami took after his attempted rescue of Izanami in Yomi, with Amaterasu being born after washing out Izanami's left eye. It's told that the three gods have created the ancient Japan's landscape through a combined painting effort.

In Shinto culture, it's believed that the Emperors of Japan are far descendants of Amaterasu, as the deity would have passed to her first descendant Ninigi the three legendary items that would later be known as the Imperial Regalia of Japan (of which the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is also part of).

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