55. Amaterasu-Ōkami

天照大御神

"Heaven Shining Great August Deity"

&

57. Susanoo-no-Mikoto/Takehayasusa-o-no mikoto

(Nihon Shoki) 須佐之男命    建速須佐之男命 (Kojiki)

"His Brave Swift Impetuous Male Augustness"

Amaterasu-Ōkami

   (Other names include Ōhirume-no-mikoto, おおひるめのみこと

Main Shrines

 

Ise Grand Shrine                     伊勢神宮(内宮)皇大神宮         

Mie-ken, Ise-shi, Ujitachi-chō 1  

三重県伊勢市宇治館町1                                

Ama-no-iwata Jinja                   天岩戸神社     

Miyazaki-ken, Nishiisuki-gun, Takachiho-chō, Iwato 1073−1

宮崎県西臼杵郡高千穂町岩戸1073−1                

Hinokuma Jingū/Ikakasu Jingū  日前神宮・國懸神宮田

Wakayama-ken, Wakayama-shi, Akitsuki 365

和歌山県和歌山市秋月365

Yamaguchi Daijin-gū                    山口大神宮

Yamaguchi-ken, Yamaguchi-shi, Taki-machi 4−4

山口県山口市滝町4−4

Susanoo-no-Mikoto

Main Shrines

 

Yasaka Jinja                 八坂神社

Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Gion-machi Kitagawa 625  

京都府京都市東山区祇園町北側625                                

Hikawa Jinja               氷川神社  

Saitama-ken, Saitama-shi, Ōmiya-ku, Takahana-chō 1-407

埼玉県さいたま市大宮区高鼻町1-407               

Kumano Hongū Taisha 熊野本宮大社

Wakayama-ken, Tanabe-shi, Hongū-chō Hongū 1110

和歌山県田辺市本宮町本宮1110

Hinomisaki Jinja                    日御碕神社口

Shimane-ken, Izumo-shi, Taisha-chō Hinomasaki 455

島根県出雲市大社町日御碕455

Section 9 - The August Oath

On learning his fate Susanoo resolved to visit his sister, Amaterasu, in Heaven. Which he did, but on his way “all the mountains and rivers shook, and every land and country quaked.” Hearing this Amaterasu assumed it was because her brother was intending to steal her land from her. Preparing herself by, among other things, wrapping long strings of  beads around the hair on both sides of her head, on her headband, and around both arms, slinging two quivers containing 500 arrows on her back and planting herself so firmly on the ground that the earth came up to her thighs, she asked him why he had come. Calmly he explained what had transpired between him and Izanagi and said that he had come to say goodbye, nothing else. She then asked him to prove his good intentions; his reply was that they swear oaths and bear children.

Section 10 

Susanoo's Declaration of the Division of the August Male Children and the August Female Children (Kami 58A-59E)

She agreed, and standing on opposite banks of the Tranquil River of Heaven they began the process.

Amaterasu began by asking Susanoo to give him the ten hand long sword he was wearing. He did. Breaking the sword into three pieces and washing them in the True-Pool-Well-of-Heaven she chewed them up and spat them out. Three female kami came into existence from the resultant vapour, Okitsu-shima-hime (58A), Ichiki-shima-hime (58B), and Tagitsu-hime (58C).

 

The same cleansing and gustatory process was now applied by Susanoo to the five strings of beads his sister had wrapped around her hair and arms. From the vapour resulting from the beads attached to the left side of her head came Masaka-a-katsukatsu-hayabi-ameno-oshino-mimi (59A). From the beads attached to the right side of her head came Ameno-hohi-mikoto (59B), followed by Amatsu-hiko-ne-mikoto (59C) from the beads of her headband, then came Ikutsu-hiko-ne-mikoto (59D) from the beads of her left arm, and finally from the beads of her right arm Kumanu-kusubi-mikoto (59E).

 

Amaterasu then declared that as the five male kami were begotten from her beads they were her progeny. In the same way, the three female kami begotten from Susanoo’s sword were his progeny. She went on to describe the female kami’s status as the Three Goddesses of Munakata (a city in what is now Fukuoka-ken).  Looking at the five male kami, the second of them, Ameno-hohi-mikoto (59B), had a child named Takehiratori-mikoto (60) and this child is described as the ancestor of leading families in, among other places, Izumo, Musashi, Kazusa (now Chiba), and Tsushima. The third of the five male kami, Amatsu-hikone-mikoto (59C), is also described as the ancestor of several leading regional leading families.  This is the second of the “Kojiki's many ancestral glosses, in which the ancestries claimed by many powerful families are fitted into the official national mythology” (Philippi, p70).  

Section 11The August Ravages of Susanoo (Kami 61-68)

This is followed by one of the most confusing episodes in the Kiki. The proposal by Susanoo that he prove his good intentions by exchanging oaths with Amaterasu and them both bearing children is now interpreted as a contest, a contest which Susanoo claims to have won by the fact that the children he begot were graceful maidens, proving the sincerity of his intentions. "Impetuous with victory" (Chamberlain) he then proceeded to destroy the ridges between Amaterasu's rice paddies, fill up the ditches, and spread faeces in the Hall of the First Fruits. Amaterasu acted with understanding, speculating that what looked like faeces was in fact just drunken vomit and that he destroyed the ridges and filled up the ditches because he thought this was a wasteful use of land which could be better used to produce food. Nevertheless Susanoo continued to rage, and when Amaterasu was inside her weaving hall weaving divine garments for the kami he broke open a hole in the roof of the hall and "through it let fall a heavenly piebald horse which he had flayed with a backward flaying." (Chamberlain p64). This so frightened Amaterasu and/or the other women in the hall that she/they fell against the loom and injured herself/themselves in the genitals.

The Door of the Heavenly Rock Dwelling & Ameno-uzume-mikoto's Ribald Dance 

In a state of shock Amaterasu then withdrew into the Rock Cave of Heaven (Ama-no-Iwato) and closed off the entrance, plunging Heaven and Earth into darkness. This caused all kinds of problems and the myriads of Deities assembled on the bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven to decide what to do. Omoi-kane-kami (61) was asked to make a plan. The blacksmith, Kanechi-Amatsumara (62), was called in and Ishikoridome-kami (63) was commissioned to make a mirror. Tamaoya-mikoto (64) was told to make an eight foot long string of 500 magatama (comma-shaped beads). Ameno-koyane-mikoto (65) and Futadama-mikoto (66) were summoned and told to go to Mount Kagu and there pull the entire shoulder-bone off a stag and collect cherry bark, both to be used in divination. An entire cleyera japonica (sakaki) tree was uprooted, placed in front of the Rock Cave of Heaven and from its 500 branches the mirror and string of beads described above were hung along with blue and white cloth offerings. These were all held in place by Futadama-mikoto while Ameno-koyane-mikoto intoned grand liturgies. Ameno-tajikara-mikoto (67) concealed himself next to the entrance of the cave.  Lastly in this sequence of events the actions of Ameno-uzume-mikoto (68) cause Chamberlain to resort to Latin once more, even if very briefly:-

"...hanging round her the heavenly clubmoss of the Heavenly Mount Kagu as a sash, and making the heavenly spindle-tree her head-dress and binding the leaves of the bamboo grass of the heavenly Mount Kagu in a posy for her hands, and laying a sounding board before the door of the Heavenly Rock Dwelling , and stamping till she made it resound and doing as if possessed by a deity, and pulling out the nipples of her breasts, pushing down her skirt-string usque ad privates partes." Philippi has the last four words as "down to her genitals."The myriads of kami then burst out into raucous laughter and a bemused Amaterasu, opening the entrance a little, peeked out and demanded to know what was going on. She was told that a Deity more beautiful than herself existed and was shown her own reflection in the mirror: amazed, she ventured a little further out only for the concealed Ameno-tajikara-mikoto to take her hand and pull her even further out.  Futadama-mikoto then placed a special straw rope behind her back, preventing her from returning to the cave. Light then returned to Heaven and Earth. Note that this episode resulted in Ameno-uzume-mikoto becoming known as the Goddess of Entertainment. 

Section 12 - The Punishment and Second Expulsion of Susano-o

The natural order  now restored, the assembled kami switched their attention to Susano-o. A heavy fine was levied on him, his beard was cut off and the nails of his hand and feet plucked out. Finally he was, for the second time, "expelled with a divine expulsion."

Section 13The Eight-Forked Serpent "Yamata-no-Orochi" (Kami 69A-70)

He then descended to Earth, to the upper reaches of the River Hi in Izumo. He came across an old man and a old woman with a young girl between them, all three of whom were crying. The old man told Susanoo that he was Ashinazuchi-mikoto (69A),  the son of Ōyamazumi-kami (22), the Kami of Mountains. His wife was Tenazuchi-mikoto (69B), and his daughter Kushinada-hime-mikoto (70B). As to why they were all crying, the old couple had once had eight daughters but every year one of them was devoured by the eight-forked serpent (Yamata no Orochi) of Koshi and it was now time for 

the monster to appear once more. The old man described the monster thus:-

"His eyes are like red ground cherries; his one body has eight heads and eight tails. On his body grow moss and cypress and cryptomeria trees. His length is such that he spans eight valleys and eight mountain peaks. If you look at his belly, you see that blood is oozing out all over it." (Philippi p89).

Susanoo then asked for the hand of Kushinada-hime-mikoto in marriage and when the old couple understood who he was they were honoured to give their blessing. He then transformed his wife-to-be into a comb which he put in his hair. He then instructed them to:-"distill some eight-fold refined liquor. Also make a fence round about, in that fence make eight gates, at each gate tie [together] eight platforms, on each platform put a liquor vat, and into each vat   

pour the eight-fold refined liquor, and wait. (Chamberlain p75). This was done, and they waited. Sure enough the eight-forked serpent arrived, and, its appetite for liquor apparently stronger than its appetite for young female flesh, put one of its eight  heads into each of the eight liquor vats, drank its fill, and fell asleep. Susanoo flew into action and using his ten hand long sword cut the serpent into many pieces. So much blood flowed that the River Hi became a river of blood. When, however, Susanoo cut the serpent's fourth tail the point of his sword broke: thrusting deeper he found a sword embedded there. Pulling it out and seeing that it was a truly great sword he gave it the name Ame-no-murakumo-no-Tsurugi, “Sword of the Gathering Cloud of Heaven”  and later presented it to Amaterasu. We will be coming across this sword later.

Section 14

The Palace of Suga (Kami 72A-80)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated