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Home » 7. Concepts and Doctrines » Basic Terms
Literally, "Great Eight Islands," it actually means "Great Myriad Islands," and is another name for Japan. The word is also an abbreviation of Ōyashima no kuni, or the "Great Country of Myriad Islands."According to the legends in the Kojiki and the Nihongi about the birth of the land (kuniumi), Izanagi and Izanami gave birth to eight great islands, beginning with the mainland, Shikoku and Kyūshū, and because of this the whole area of Japan came to be called the Great Country of Myriad Islands. This is because 'great' (ō) is a eulogistic prefix and "eight" (ya) means "myriad" rather than a specific number, and so originally the name meant a land made up of a large number of islands. The section of the ritsuryō legal code called the Kushikiryō recognized Ōyashima as a general name for Japan as the land ruled by the divine emperor, stipulating: "The emperor, as an embodied deity (aramikami, akitsukami), rules the Great Myriad Islands."

—Fukui Yoshihiko
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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