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God of the moon
Woodblock print of Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto
Other namesTsukuyomi (ツクヨミ, 月読), Tsukiyomi (ツキヨミ), 月読尊、月弓尊、月夜見尊、月讀尊
Personal information
ParentsIzanagi (Kojiki)
Izanagi and Izanami (Nihon Shoki)
(and others)

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (ツクヨミノミコト, 月読命),[1] or simply Tsukuyomi (ツクヨミ, 月読) or Tsukiyomi (ツキヨミ),[2] is the moon god in Japanese mythology and the Shinto religion. The name "Tsukuyomi" is a compound of the Old Japanese words tsuku (, "moon, month", becoming modern Japanese tsuki) and yomi (読み, "reading, counting").[3] The Nihon Shoki mentions this name spelled as Tsukuyumi (月弓, "moon bow"), but this yumi is likely a variation in pronunciation of yomi.[3] An alternative interpretation is that his name is a combination of tsukiyo (月夜, "moonlit night") and mi (, "looking, watching").

There is so little known about Tsukuyomi that even their sex is unknown. Still, in Man'yōshū, Tsukuyomi's name is sometimes rendered as Tsukuyomi Otoko (月讀壮士, "moon-reading man"), implying that they are male.[4]

Tsukuyomi was the second of the "three noble children" (三貴子, Mihashira-no-Uzu-no-Miko) born when Izanagi-no-Mikoto, the god who created the first land of Onogoroshima, was cleansing himself of his sins while bathing after escaping the underworld and the clutches of his enraged dead sister, Izanami-no-Mikoto. Tsukuyomi was born when he washed out of Izanagi's right eye.[5] However, in an alternative story, Tsukuyomi was born from a mirror made of white copper in Izanagi's right hand.

Tsukuyomi angered Amaterasu when he killed Ukemochi, the goddess of food. Amaterasu once sent Tsukuyomi to represent her at a feast presented by Ukemochi. The goddess created the food by turning to the ocean and spitting out a fish, then facing a forest and spitting out game, and finally turning to a rice paddy and coughing up a bowl of rice. Tsukuyomi was utterly disgusted by the fact that, although it looked exquisite, the meal was made in a disgusting manner, and so he killed her.[5]

Amaterasu learned what happened and she was so angry that she refused to ever look at Tsukuyomi again, forever moving to another part of the sky. This is the reason that day and night are never together. This is according to one of the accounts in the Nihon Shoki. Tsukuyomi does not have such significance in the Kojiki, in which there is a similar tale about Susanoo-no-Mikoto killing a similar food goddess named Ōgetsuhime, who is often conflated with Ukemochi.


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  1. ^ 平藤喜久子 (February 2013). "スサノオ 建速須佐之男命(記)、素戔嗚尊(紀)". In 松村一男ほか編 (ed.). 神の文化史事典. 白水社. p. 285. ISBN 978-4-560-08265-2.
  2. ^ "ツキヨミノミコト(月読尊)". ブリタニカ国際大百科事典 小項目事典. コトバンク. Retrieved 2016-09-18.
  3. ^ a b 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  4. ^ c. 759: Man'yōshū, volume 7, poem 1372; in Old Japanese. Text available online here.
  5. ^ a b Roberts, Jeremy (2010). Japanese Mythology A To Z (PDF) (2nd ed.). New York: Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60413-435-3.

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