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  • Takeshi Kazui

Japanese Mythology of the Beginning Island Onokoro ハジマリノシマ

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Onokoro Island オノコロ島 is a remote island belonging to Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, where less than 500 people live and fish. It was a place where time seemed to have stopped, the sun was dazzling, the sea was calm, the sky was blue, and I felt a sense of peace. There I came across a Japanese mythology of the beginning.

View of Onokoro, mythical Island of the Beginning, in green light from Onogoro Shrine.

Japanese Mythology of the Land Birth

A long time ago, the world was divided into only heaven and earth before we were born.

High up in the clear sky, there was a place called Takamanohara 高天原, where the gods resided: In other words, heaven.

Stone statues of Izanami and Izanagi.

One day, the gods consulted with us about creating a new country in the lower realms.

There, the gods ordered two gods, Izanagi no Mikoto 伊邪那岐命 and Izanami no Mikoto 伊邪那美命, to create a country, then gave them a sacred halberd called Ame-no-nuboko 天沼矛.

When Izanagi and Izanami stood on the great bridge, Ame-no-ukihashi 天の浮橋, and looked out at the world below, they saw that the country was still drifting like oil on water.

They immediately lowered Ame-no-nuboko into the seawater and began to stir the seawater with all their might. "Onogoro Onogoro, Onogoro Onogoro, Onogoro Onogoro..." The sea swirled with a rumbling sound.

After a while, he pulled up the spear, and lo and behold, the tide dripping from the tip of the spear piled up and formed an island called Onogoro-jima 於能凝呂島.

Over time, the island has taken on multiple names: Onokoro オノコロ, Onokoro-jima 磤馭慮島, Nu-shima 沼島, Onogoro-jima 自凝島−the meaning of the kanji for "Onogoro-jima" is an island that has congealed on itself.


Shinto shrine in  Onokoro, mythical Island of the Beginning.

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