So what, or rather, who is Tsukiyomi? I’ve named my blog after him and more than a few people visit this blog to learn more about him. I haven’t written about who he is before, even though I’ve wanted to, because he’s just so gosh darn difficult to encapsulate. Since there’s so little (in English) about him, you need to fill in the gaps a little.
Tsukiyomi the attack
If you’re an anime or manga fan, you’ve probably heard of “Tsukiyomi.” If you’ve read or watched Naruto, you definitely have.
Uchiha Itachi, Sasuke’s somewhat evil/somewhat misunderstood older brother, has a special attack called Tsukiyomi. (It’s also good to note that the spelling can vary as Tsukuyomi). This attack traps the victim in an illusion of a dark world, where the user has complete control over the victim’s perceptions.
When googling for Tsukiyomi, he’s apparently better known as a genjutsu (illusion) attack. He is however the Shinto god of the moon.
Tsukiyomi the god
When Izanagi-no-Mikoto (who created the first land Japan) purified himself after entering the underworld after his lost wife, he inadvertently created three gods. Legends vary on exactly how he did it (some legends even mention a fourth, even lesser known earth god), but his children were Amaterasu, Tsukiyomi and Susano-wo.
Amaterasu and Susano-wo (or Susanoo, or a variation of other spellings) are more well known than Tsukiyomi. Amaterasu is the sun goddess, inventor of agriculture and the emperor was descended from her. Susano-wo is a storm god with a fierce temper and rivalry with his sister and the legend of slaying the feared Yamata no Orochi, a dragon.
Shinto gods didn’t originally have gender. They only gained human form when the Buddha arrived with merchants and they turned into humans to greet him. Not the actual Buddha, mind, but his teachings when they were imported into Japan. So while it’s commonly accepted that Amaterasu is female and Susano-wo and Tsukiyomi are male, it doesn’t really have to be… Okay, Susano-wo’s tale makes more sense for the time period if he’s male (since he marries a woman and slays a dragon), but none of the other tales are that specific.
Tsukiyomi only really features in one well-known tale. He ascended to the heavens with his sister Amaterasu as the moon to her sun. Some say they were even married. One day, she asked Tsukiyomi to attend a feast prepared by the food goddess Uke Mochi. The exact method of the preparation of food differs from legend to legend, but in one telling Uke Mochi literally threw up the food onto the table. Tsukiyomi was so disgusted by this that he killed her. Amaterasu, furious at him, exiled him into the night so she wouldn’t have to see him. (This is why the moon appears at night, only after the sun has gone down).
So why did I name my blog after Tsukiyomi?
My original goal for this blog was to encourage expanding urban fantasy beyond vampires and werewolves. I still love those stories (and still am an uber-fan of Anita Blake, despite/because of my criticisms), but I also want to read (and write) about other kinds of creatures. I’m also an anime and manga fan, and absolutely love Japan (even if Europe distracted me). In university, I even tried to focus my religion major onto the Eastern religions. So obviously, a name reflecting this diversity would fit better.
Secondly, it’s about what Tsukiyomi represents. He’s uptight and proper, as you can tell with the story of Uke Mochi. Some of the heroines in urban fantasy can definitely relate, even if it wasn’t regarding sex. He is also (although I can’t find the reference now) intelligent and literary. Most fittingly of all, he’s the moon-god, which fits so well with the overall symbolism of urban fantasy. Vampires can only survive at night, the werewolf turns into a wolf at the full moon, and I think even the fae are affected by the moon.
(Thus, my blog design, with the full moon shining down and the torii (Shinto shrine gate) in the logo.)
Had you heard of Tsukiyomi before? What stories do you know? Who is your favorite Shinto god?