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They are the "heaven-shining Kami"
(Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami), commonly spoken of as the "goddess of the
Sun;" the Kami of the Moon, and the Kami of force.* Izanagi expresses
much satisfaction at the begetting of these three. He hands his
necklace to the Kami of the Sun and commissions her to rule the
"plain of heaven;" he confers upon the Kami of the Moon the dominion
of night, and he appoints the Kami of force (Susanoo) to rule the
sea-plain. The Kami of the Sun and the Kami of the Moon proceed at
once to their appointed task, but the Kami of force, though of mature
age and wearing a long beard, neglects his duty and falls to weeping,
wailing, and fuming. Izanagi inquires the cause of his discontent,
and the disobedient Kami replies that he prefers death to the office
assigned him; whereupon he is forbidden to dwell in the same land
with Izanagi and has to make his abode in Omi province. Then he forms
the idea of visiting the "plain of high heaven" to bid farewell to
his sister, the goddess of the Sun.

*Mr. Chamberlain translates the title of this Kami "brave, swift,
impetuous, male, augustness."

But his journey is attended with such a shaking of mountains and
seething of rivers that the goddess, informed of his recalcitrancy
and distrusting his purpose, makes preparations to receive him in
warlike guise, by dressing her hair in male fashion (i.e. binding it
into knots), by tying up her skirt into the shape of trousers, by
winding a string of five hundred curved jewels round her head and
wrists, by slinging on her back two quivers containing a thousand
arrows and five hundred arrows respectively, by drawing a guard on
her left forearm, and by providing herself with a bow and a sword.

The Records and the Chronicles agree in ascribing to her such an
exercise of resolute force that she stamps her feet into the ground
as though it had been soft snow and scatters the earth about.
Susanoo, however, disavows all evil intentions, and agrees to prove
his sincerity by taking an oath and engaging in a Kami-producing
competition, the condition being that if his offspring be female, the
fact shall bear condemnatory import, but if male, the verdict shall
be in his favour. For the purpose of this trial, they stand on
opposite sides of a river (the Milky Way). Susanoo hands his sword to
Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami, who breaks it into three pieces, chews the
fragments, and blowing them from her mouth, produces three female
Kami. She then lends her string of five hundred jewels to Susanoo
and, he, in turn, crunches them in his mouth and blows out the
fragments which are transformed into five male Kami. The beings thus
strangely produced have comparatively close connexions with the
mundane scheme, for the three female Kami--euphoniously designated
Kami of the torrent mist, Kami of the beautiful island, and Kami of
the cascade--become tutelary goddesses of the shrines in Chikuzen
province (or the sacred island Itsuku-shima), and two of the male
Kami become ancestors of seven and twelve families, respectively, of
hereditary nobles.

On the "high plain of heaven," however, trouble is not allayed. The
Sun goddess judges that since female Kami were produced from the
fragments of Susanoo's sword and male Kami from her own string of
jewels, the test which he himself proposed has resulted in his
conviction; but he, repudiating that verdict, proceeds to break down
the divisions of the rice-fields laid out by the goddess, to fill up
the ditches, and to defile the palace--details which suggest either
that, according to Japanese tradition, heaven has its agriculture and
architecture just as earth has, or that the "plain of high heaven"
was really the name of a place in the Far East. The Sun goddess makes
various excuses for her brother's lawless conduct, but he is not to
be placated. His next exploit is to flay a piebald horse and throw it
through a hole which he breaks in the roof of the hall where the
goddess is weaving garments for the Kami. In the alarm thus created,
the goddess* is wounded by her shuttle, whereupon she retires into a
cave and places a rock at the entrance, so that darkness falls upon
the "plain of high heaven" and upon the islands of Japan,** to the
consternation of the Kami of evil, whose voices are heard like the
buzzing of swarms of flies.

*According to the Records, it is the attendants of the goddess that
suffer injury.

**Referring to this episode, Aston writes in his Nihongi:
"Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami is throughout the greater part of this narrative
an anthropomorphic deity, with little that is specially
characteristic of her solar functions. Here, however, it is plainly
the sun itself which witholds its light and leaves the world to
darkness. This inconsistency, which has greatly exercised the native
theologians, is not peculiar to Japanese myth."

Then follows a scene perhaps the most celebrated in all the
mythological legends; a scene which was the origin of the sacred
dance in Japan and which furnished to artists in later ages a
frequent motive. The "eight hundred myriads" of Kami--so numerous
have the denizens of the "plain of high heaven" unaccountably
become--assemble in the bed of the "tranquil river"* to confer about
a means of enticing the goddess from her retirement. They entrust the
duty of forming a plan to the Kami of "thought combination," now
heard of for the first time as a son of one of the two producing
Kami, who, with the "great central" Kami, constituted the original
trinity of heavenly denizens. This deity gathers together a number of
barn-yard fowl to signal sunrise, places the Kami of the "strong arm"
at the entrance of the cave into which the goddess has retired,
obtains iron from the "mines of heaven" and causes it to be forged
into an "eight-foot" mirror, appoints two Kami to procure from Mount
Kagu a "five-hundred branched" sakaki tree (cleyera Japonica), from
whose branches the mirror together with a "five-hundred beaded"
string of curved jewels and blue and white streamers of hempen cloth
and paper-mulberry cloth are suspended, and causes divination to be
performed with the shoulder blade of a stag.

*The Milky Way.

Then, while a grand liturgy is recited, the "heaven-startling" Kami,
having girdled herself with moss, crowned her head with a wreath of
spindle-tree leaves and gathered a bouquet of bamboo grass, mounts
upon a hollow wooden vessel and dances, stamping so that the wood
resounds and reciting the ten numerals repeatedly. Then the
"eight-hundred myriad" Kami laugh in unison, so that the "plain of
high heaven" shakes with the sound, and the Sun goddess, surprised
that such gaiety should prevail in her absence, looks out from the
cave to ascertain the cause. She is taunted by the dancer, who tells
her that a greater than she is present, and the mirror being thrust
before her, she gradually comes forward, gazing into it with
astonishment; whereupon the Kami of the "strong arm" grasps her hand
and drags her out, while two other Kami* stretch behind her a rope
made of straw, pulled up by the roots,** to prevent her return, and
sunshine once more floods the "plain of high heaven."

*These two are the ancestors of the Kami of the Nakatomi and the
Imibe hereditary corporations, who may be described as the high
priests of the indigenous cult of Japan.

**This kind of rope called shime-nawa, an abbreviation of
shiri-kume-nawa may be seen festooning the portals of any Shinto
shrine.

The details of this curious legend deserve attention for the sake of
their close relation to the observances of the Shinto cult. Moreover,
the mythology now takes a new departure. At the time of Izanagi's
return from hades, vague reference is made to human beings, but after
Susanoo's departure from the "plain of high heaven," he is
represented as holding direct converse with them. There is an
interlude which deals with the foodstuffs of mortals. Punished with a
fine of a great number of tables* of votive offerings, his beard cut
off, and the nails of his fingers and toes pulled out, Susanoo is
sentenced to expulsion from heaven. He seeks sustenance from the Kami
of food, and she responds by taking from the orifices of her body
various kinds of viands which she offers to him. But he, deeming
himself insulted, kills her, whereupon from her corpse are born rice,
millet, small and large beans, and barley. These are taken by one of
the two Kami of production, and by him they are caused to be used as
seeds.

*The offerings of food in religious services were always placed upon
small, low tables.

Thereafter Susanoo descends to a place at the headwaters of the river
Hi (Izumo province). Seeing a chop-stick float down the stream, he
infers the existence of people higher up the river, and going in
search of them, finds an old man and an old woman lamenting over and
caressing a girl. The old man says that he is an earthly Kami, son of
the Kami of mountains, who was one of the thirty-five Kami borne by
Izanami before her departure for hades. He explains that he had
originally eight daughters, but that every year an eight-forked
serpent has come from the country of Koshi and devoured one of the
maidens, so that there remains only Lady Wonderful, whose time to
share her sisters' fate is now at hand. It is a huge monster,
extending over eight valleys and eight hills, its eyes red like
winter cherries, its belly bloody and inflamed, and its back
overgrown with moss and conifers. Susanoo, having announced himself
as the brother of the Sun goddess, receives Lady Wonderful and at
once transforms her into a comb which he places in his hair. He then
instructs the old man and his wife to build a fence with eight gates,
placing in every gate a vat of rice wine.

Presently the serpent arrives, drinks the wine, and laying down its
heads to sleep, is cut to pieces by Susanoo with his ten-span sabre.
In the body of the serpent the hero finds a sword, "great and sharp,"
which he sends to the Sun goddess, at whose shrine in Ise it is
subsequently found and given to the famous warrior, Yamato-dake, when
he is setting out on his expedition against the Kumaso of the north.
The sword is known as the "Herb-queller." Susanoo then builds for
himself and Lady Wonderful a palace at Suga in Izumo, and composes a
celebrated verse of Japanese poetry.* Sixth in descent from the
offspring of this union is the "Kami of the great land," called also
the "Great-Name Possessor," or the "Kami of the reed plains," or the
"Kami of the eight thousand spears," or the "Kami of the great land
of the living," the last name being antithetical to Susanoo's title
of "Ruler of Hades."

*"Many clouds arise,
On all sides a manifold fence,
To receive within it the spouse,
They form a manifold fence
Ah!



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