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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Susanoo is sentenced to expulsion from heaven


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.


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