Early and Mediaeval Forms of Shinto
The oldest Shinto cosmology presents merely a particular form of the ordinary tripartite division of the visible universe into the upper world of the firmament where the gods and goddesses dwell and where they settle their affairs in tribal council under the authority of the great deities of the upper sky, the middle world of men on the surface of the earth, and the lower world of darkness where live evil and violent spirits ruled over by the great earth mother. The lower world is called Yomo-tsu-Kuni or Yomi-no-Kuni, with a probable meaning of " The Night Land." The domain of living men is Utsushi-yo, " The Manifest World." The upper world of everlasting felicity is called Takama-gaHara, meaning " The Plain of the High Sky." It is, first of all, the visible heavens where reside the mysterious powers that make the winds to rush and roar, the storm clouds to gather, the thunders to roll and the lightning to flash, wherein are bodied forth the great spirits of the sun and moon and over-arching sky. The story of how divine beings were sent down from this world in the sky and of how they created the islands of the Japanese archipelago and gave it life in gods and goddesses and all other living things of nature, including man, and of how from these came the primitive society and the state, will be taken up for detailed examination later in connection with the study of the use that is made of the early Shinto world-view in the modern educational system.