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This article is about Izanami from the Shinto pantheon; for the character from Ōkami, see Nami.

Izanami (「伊弉冉尊」?; Izanami-no-mikoto; female who invites) was the second of the two kami created to give life to other worlds, and the first female kami to ever exist. Her husband and brother was Izanagi, who was also the first male kami.

Izanami, alongside her husband, helped to create the original eight islands of Japan and descended to earth with him. While on the mortal plain, the two were tasked with the creation of a larger population of kami for the world. Izanami took on the role of a mother and gave birth to many of the world's kami through numerous means. However, she was typically pregnant with one or more children and gave birth to others during the process.

Happy with her life on Nakatsukuni, the mortal realm, Izanami took on yet another child, who she would carry to term. However, unlike her other births, this son would provide a great deal of difficultly, for he was the god of fire. His flames greatly wounded the heavenly mother, leaving her near the edge of death. She named her child Kagutsuchi. The roaring fires of this babe were impossible to tame, yet in one of Izanami's last actions, she shed a single tear that would become the soothing goddess of water, Mizuhame. Mizuhame would become the only capable of taming her wilder, more fiery brother. However, this never came to be, as Izanagi, in a fit of rage, chopped off his newborn son's head with his sword, creating several more kami from the blood that dripped off of the silver blade.

Izanami, having seen her beloved child murdered before her eyes and his twin left alone in the world, she ceased to live and began her journey into the underworld known as Yomi. While in Yomi, her figure started to lose its beauty and fade into something more hideous. The darkness of the realm allowed her to conceal her embarrassment and growing hideousness. Prepared to rot away in this world, Izanami was even more surprised by the discovery that her husband had followed her to this realm, in an attempt to ask her to join the world of the living. She knew in her heart that this man would no longer love her, for he had killed her beloved child and adored her beauty in life. She knew he could not be with her in death, nor could he still love her.

Trying to persuade him to leave, she promised that she would return in her own time, but never specified an exact date; she simply promised that should would do so. However, Izanagi desperately wanted to gaze upon her once beautiful face once more, sending shivers of dread and icy feelings of fear through her body. Growing more and more angry, she told him to never gaze upon her in this world and turned him away once more. However, as Izanagi turned and started back towards the gate to the realm of the living, a desire to look upon his wife's face overcame him, and he lit a comb. In the yellow glow of the flame, he revealed Izanami's greatest shame. Furious with him, she launched her decaying form towards her husband, screaming that she would claim the lives of 1000 of his people, and to spite her, he said that he would only give life to 1500 more. Still chasing the man who once loved her, she drove him back through the gates of the underworld but could not follow him further, for he blocked the entrance with a boulder.

Her final promise, however, was not forgotten. She did indeed claim the promised lives day after day, and Izanagi only created more. In doing so, she became known as god of the underworld, greeting and caring for those who entered its gates and ensuring that everyone's greatest shame remained hidden in the murky depths of the shadows.


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