BELOW AND BEYOND: TRAVELS TO TOKOYO


Posted On Nov 11 2015 by

According to the Japanese mythology, there are two views of the universe: one vertical and one horizontal. The vertical world points to a three-layered universe: Takamagahara (Plain of High Heaven), Ashihara no Nakatsu kuni (Central Land of Reed Plains) and Yomi no kuni (Land of Darkness). The topography of Yomi can be inferred from Izanagi’s trip to the Land of Darkness to see his deceased wife, a tale similar to that of Orpheus and Eurydice. This two-dimensional view belongs to the folk beliefs in Tokoyo (The Eternal Land), an imaginary realm in Japanese mythology, generally conceived as a world beyond the sea, an oceanic paradise slightly connected with fertility and immortality. Benevolent visitors, the deified dead, returned from their abode across the sea at the appointed times of harvest and New Year’s Eve to infuse life and energy into our world.  Legends concerning Tokoyo appear in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki and several in Fudoki. Tokoyo has also an underworld aspect: the realm under the water (in wan-kashi densetsu – bowl lending legends –, or in the Dragon Palace tales) or even the underground world (in Kōga Saburō tales). Nevertheless, Cornelis Ouwehand distinguishes three main meanings of Tokoyo: (i) a paradise of everlasting life; (ii) an underworld of darkness; (iii) a land far distant from Japan and all three aspects have a structural continuity. The access to Tokoyo was through a cave or a crank in the mountains, but staying longer or consuming food from the realm of the dead meant becoming a part of the community of the dead.

Last Updated on: November 11th, 2015 at 10:48 P, by admin


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