- What’s Kannazuki?
- Why do these deities join together in Izumo?
- Ebisu takes care of your land while the gods are away in Izumo!
Most Japanese people have heard about “Kannazuki”, but they seldom know what it actually means and what it’s derived from. Kannazuki, or ‘神無月’is the month when, literally all gods leave from their original enshrined areas. In Japan, it is said that these deities leave for a conference at Izumo-taisha in Shimane Prefecture. “神無” means NO GODS, and “月” means MONTH, so Kannazuki refers to the month when there are no Gods. They all gather in the land of Izumo in Shimane Prefecture. People in Shimane refer to this month as Kamiarizuki or神在月. “神有”means GODS EXIST. To welcome these gods, Izumo-taisha holds welcoming rituals from November 21st (October 10th on the Chinese calendar). It’s very interesting for those who like Japanese mythology! You can attend the ritual service too. Please check out our past article about how to pray at Izumo-taisha.
how to pray
Photo by Steve
Why do these deities join together in Izumo?
There are several theories, but the most plausible one goes like this; When Okuni-nushi-no-kami gave his land up to Amaterasu, he said he will leave the politics of this world to Amaterasu’s son Sumimema, and he will take the control of secret match-making. Okuni-nushi-no-kami had many children scattered around Japan and they all returned to Izumo once a year. People then came to believe that maybe these gods were discussing match-making, so called “縁”. Later on, gods other than Okuni-nushi-no-kami’s children started to gather in Izumo once a year. The reason why people used to welcome them was that, these gods were thought to also discuss the harvest and climate for the next year. There customs have been passed down through generations up to today. If you want to know more about the Japanese myth, please take a look at past article.
Photo by jon
Ebisu takes care of your land while the gods are away in Izumo!
Some might wonder “What if something happened while the gods are away?”. Don’t worry, it is said that the charming Ebisu will remain in your area. Ebisu is a god famously known as holding a fishing rod and a sea bream in his hands. There are several explanations about why Ebisu doesn’t go to Izumo, but it is believed that Ebisu is busy during Kannazuki. He is believed to bring a large harvest for farmers and fisheries during the same time Kannazuki occurs (in the middle of harvest time when he really needs to help people)! Some areas even have a ritual called “Ebisu-koh”, held on October 20th (on the Chinese calendar) to pray for a large harvest, so he must attend this celebration. Don’t you think these gods that appear in Japanese mythology are humorous and are somehow so human-like? Even gods have their jobs just like us and they change their activities according to the seasons. I feel like sitting down and re-reading Kojiki when the weather gets colder.