Japanese God

Kagutsuchi

Kagutsuchi (軻遇突智) is the Japanese god of fire whose birth killed his mother, creator goddess Izanami. The patron of blacksmiths and those who work with fire, he is also associated with volcanoes and earthquakes.

Top Questions

  • How did Kagutsuchi’s birth kill his mother Izanami?

    Kagutsuchi’s flames were so intense that, upon being born, he burned his mother so badly that her body was destroyed.

  • How did Kagutsuchi die?

    After the death of Izanami, Kagutsuchi’s father Izanagi beheaded him, then cut his body into eight parts, all of which became volcanoes.

Overview

Kagutsuchi is the Japanese god of fire. His fiery nature killed his mother, the divine creator Izanami, during birth. He is the god of blacksmiths and ceramic workers.

Etymology

Kagutsuchi’s name (軻遇突智, sometimes represented in Katakana as カグツチ) is an older Japanese grammatical phrase meaning “Shining Force.” His other names include Hinokagatsuchi (火之迦具土, “Earthen Tool of Fire”) and Homusubi (火産霊, “Soul of Fiery Childbirth”).

Attributes

Kagutsuchi is a being of fire who constantly emits flames. He is hard to look at and impossible to touch without being burned. Difficult to control, when he is focused he burns with creativity, relating to the power of his birth. He is connected to volcanoes and seismic activities.

Because of his creative powers, Kagutsuchi is worshiped by craftsmen who harness fire. Blacksmiths especially pay him homage, and ceramic workers do the same.

He is worshiped at many shrines; one of the most prominent is Kyoto’s Atago Shrine.

Family

Kagutsuchi is the child of Izanagi and Izanami and the brother of important deities such as AmaterasuSusanooTsukuyomi, and Ebisu.

Family Tree

Mythology

Kagutsuchi’s birth is one of the most well-known stories of Japanese mythology.

The Birth of Fire

Then [Izanagi], drawing the ten-grasp sabre that was augustly girded on him, cut off the head of his child [Kagutsuchi]. -Kojiki, translated by Basil Chamberlain.

Many gods were born of the union of Izanagi and Izanami, the divine creator gods, and their children vary in appearance and in nature. The last to be born was perhaps the most terrible of all: a being of pure fire called Kagutsuchi. As Izanami gave birth to him, she was enveloped in his flames, which destroyed her body. Before she could finally die, according to the Engishiki (a thousand-year-old Japanese text of laws and customs), she gave birth to Mizuhame, the god of water, who alone could counteract the sheer force of Kagutsuchi’s power. In the Kojiki (the Japanese book of myths and histories dating from the 700s), Izanagi slew his son right after his birth, cutting him into eight parts which became volcanoes, and his blood became several notable water deities.

Other Mythology

Kagutsuchi’s relationship to blacksmiths, fire, and volcanoes is very similar to that of the Greek god Hephaestus and the Roman god Vulcan.

Kagutsuchi is a popular deity in media, including:

  • In the manga series Noragami, Kagutsuchi appears as a fire-breathing deity.

  • In the manga and video game series Naruto, a combat technique involving fire is called Kagutsuchi.

  • In the manga series Rurouni Kenshin, one character’s sword technique involving spirals of fire is named after Kagutsuchi.

  • In the Megami Tensei media franchise, Kagutsuchi is a prominent elemental power.

References

Secondary Sources

  • Chamberlain, Basil Hall, trans. Kojiki. 1919. Accessed November 5, 2019. https://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/kj/index.htm.

  • Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

  • Ono, Sokyo. Shinto: The Kami Way. Translated by William Woodard. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1962.

Citation

Wright, Gregory. “Kagutsuchi.” Mythopedia, November 29, 2022. https://mythopedia.com/topics/kagutsuchi.

Wright, Gregory. “Kagutsuchi.” Mythopedia, 29 Nov. 2022. https://mythopedia.com/topics/kagutsuchi. Accessed on 29 Nov. 2022.

Wright, G. (2022, November 29). Kagutsuchi. Mythopedia. https://mythopedia.com/topics/kagutsuchi

Authors

  • Gregory Wright

    Gregory Wright is a writer and historian with an M.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin

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