Japanese mythology is the collection of traditional stories, folktales, and beliefs that emerged in the islands of the what is today Japan. The mythology takes heavy inspiration from the indigenous Shinto religion and the Buddhist tradition that came from India via China and Korea. The history of thousands of years of contact with China, Korea, Ainu, and Okinawan myths are also key influences in Japanese mythology.
Japanese myths are tied to the geographical uniqueness of the region as well as traditional practices and smaller local folk religion. The Shinto influence is seen in the pantheon with the presence of numerous kami (spirits or deities). Japanese mythology also claims influence from Korean, Indian and Chinese mythology and can be dated back to almost 2000 years.
Two important sources for Japanese mythology are the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki. The Kojiki, or “Record of Ancient Matters,” is the oldest surviving account of Japan’s myths, legends, and history. Another text called the Shintōshū describes the origins of Japanese deities from a Buddhist perspective. One of the peculiarities of Japanese mythology is that the Japanese royal family has its own origin story. This allows the mythology to impart divinity to the imperial line. The Emperor of Japan is still the figurehead of the country even today.
Japanese mythology includes a vast number of gods, goddesses, and spirits. Most of the stories concern the creation of the world, the foundation of the islands of Japan, and the activities of deities, humans, animals, spirits, and magical creatures. Some myths describe characters and events associated with particular places in Japan. Others are set in legendary locations, such as the heavens or the underworld.
As the cherry blossom is considered foremost among flowers, so the warrior is foremost among men.