In Japan there are a range of Folk Tales which explain how the Japanese people believe different things were created. Some of the more common known Japanese creation stories are:
This old story explains just how the Japanese people believe their country was created. The Earth starts out as shapeless and formless in chaos, with no stability. The Gods on seeing this decide to send two of their own to the Earth to subdue the chaos and create beauty upon the Earth. They send Izanagi and Izanami with the spear of the Lord of Heaven, which will help them to achieve all they need. They use the spear to create the land, sky, sand and sea and they labor each day to make it more beautiful. Over time they get married and have children who become: the sea sprit, mountain sprit, field sprit, tree sprit, river sprit, summer sprit, autumn sprit, winter sprit, spring sprit, wind sprit, rain sprit, goddess of the sun, moon god and the fire sprit. All of their children help in the creation of the earth.
The story of 'The Princess and the Herdboy' explains that the 'weaving princess' created the clouds, fog and the mist, while her father 'the King of the Sky' created the sky and the stars. The story of 'The Princess and the Herdboy' can be found on my favorite stories page.
The folk tale 'Monkey-dance and Sparrow-dance' explains why to this day, a man leaps about nimbly and boldly when he dances, while a woman is much more graceful and bird-like when she dances. (this story relates mainly to the how the Japanese people dance their traditional dances). The story goes that a old man comes across some monkeys dancing in a field, he sees that they are drinking a special drink that makes them dance so nimbly and boldly. So the old man decides to steal some and try it for himself. The old man's wife on the same day comes across some sparrows who are dancing, and also sees that they are drinking a special drink that helps them to dance very gracefully. So the old woman steals some of the drink and decides to try it. That night after meeting together and explaining their stories, the old man and woman decide to try the drink which makes the old man dance just like the monkey and the old woman like the sparrows. They make so much noise that the villages come to see what is happening, and from watching the old man and woman dance they decide to do the same. This is how the Japanese people believe their dances started.
This old folk tale explains why the Japanese people believe they can see a rabbit on the moon when they look at it very carefully, and also explains why even today the moon is pictures in Japan with a rabbit or rabbits making mochi (pounded rice cakes). The story of 'The Rabbit in the Moon' can be found on my Festivals page.
The story of 'The Spider weaver' explains how the Japanese people believe that the clouds were created. The story goes that the sun saved the Spider weaver from the snake who wanted to eat her, and that she was so grateful to the sun that she used all of her left over cotton to weave the clouds for the sun. This is the reason why the Japanese people believe the clouds look so soft and white like cotton, and why in Japan, a spider and a cloud are called by the same name 'kumo'.
The folk tale of 'The Badger and the Magic fan' explains how the Japanese people believe that a bridge across the Milky Way was created. The story is about a Badger who steals a magic fan from some ogre children. When he uses the fan to fan his face, it makes his nose grow a few inches each time. One hot day when he is half asleep he forgets the power of the magic fan, and ends up fanning his nose all the way up into the sky. On seeing his nose, and thinking it is a pole, some workman who are trying to build a bridge across the Milky Way grab the end of his nose and lift him all the way to the Milky Way, and he is never seen again.
This story explains how the Jellyfish lost all his bones. The story goes that the Octopus played a horrible trick on the Jellyfish in the sea kingdom, he asked him to go and get some medicine for the Princess which is impossible to find. When the King finds out that the Jellyfish cannot find the medicine, he has his guards smash all of the Jellyfish's bones until they are all broken and useless. But when the King learns of the Octopus' deception, he punishes the Octopus and banishes him from the Kindom. This is why the Japanese people believe the Jellyfish no longer has any bones, but isn't bothered by the other creatures of the sea, while the Octopus now lives alone, scorned and feared by all who live in the sea.
This old folk tale explains how the monkey lost his tail and became a bobtail monkey instead of an ordinarily monkey. The story goes that one day a monkey fell out of a tree and fell into a prickle bush. One of the prickles went right through his tail and caused the monkey a lot of pain. He asks a friend to cut the thorn out, but as he is such a coward that just before his friend cuts it out he tries to jump away, and instead ends up having hid whole tail cut off.
This old folk tale explains how the Japanese people believe the rivers were created. The story goes that a young boy who is fearless, decides to invite a dragon to his birthday party. When the boy asks the dragon to his birthday party the dragon cries and cries because no one else has ever tried to befriend him or be nice to him, instead they all fear him. The dragon cries so much, that all his tears flowed down into the valleys and creates the rivers.
This folk tale has two different versions, but they both explain why the sea is salty. Both stories are about two brothers, the older who is mean and selfish and the younger who is kind and generous. One day the younger brother finds a magic mortar/ the magic millstones, and is able to wish for everything he could ever want, such as gold and food. But the older brother on seeing this is very jealous, and steals the magic mortar/ the magic millstones. He sails in the sea to escape his brother, but because very hungry. He asks the magic mortar/ the magic millstones to make cakes, and after eating the cakes he decides he wants something salty, so he asks it for salt. Unable to control it, salt starts pouring out and won't stop. His boat sinks and he drowns, while it is believed that the magic mortar/ the magic millstones are still at the bottom of the sea today making salt.
The story of 'The biggest in the World' explains how the Japanese people believe the lobster got its curved back, and why it looks as so the shell was broken. The story goes that the lobster believes it is the biggest in the world, but he is told by a bird that there is another sea creature who is much bigger them him. So he sets out to search for this sea creature, and after many days of searching he becomes tired. The lobster finds a huge cave to rest in, but the entrance of the cave closes on him and seems to be moving, and before he knows it he is forced upwards through a blowhole, which turns out to be from the back of a huge whale. When the lobster lands from being thrown so high in the air, his back is broken, curved like we see all Lobster's backs today.