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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Susanoo falls asleep during the process


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! that manifold fence."

Several legends are attached to the name of this multinominal being--legends in part romantic, in part supernatural, and in part fabulous. His eighty brethren compel him to act as their servant when they go to seek the hand of Princess Yakami of Inaba. But on the way he succours a hare which they have treated brutally and the little animal promises that he, not they, shall win the princess, though

he is only their baggage-bearer. Enraged at the favour she shows him, they seek in various ways to destroy him: first by rolling down on him from a mountain a heated rock; then by wedging him into the cleft of a tree, and finally by shooting him. But he is saved by his mother, and takes refuge in the province of Kii (the Land of Trees) at the palace of the "Kami of the great house."* Acting on the latter's advice, he visits his ancestor, Susanoo, who is now in hades, and seeks counsel as to some means of overcoming his eighty enemies. But instead of helping him, that unruly Kami endeavours to compass his death by thrusting him into a snake-house; by putting him into a nest of centipedes and wasps, and finally by shooting an arrow into a moor, sending him to seek it and then setting fire to the grass. He is saved from the first two perils through the agency of miraculous scarves given to him by Princess Forward, Susanoo's daughter, who has fallen in love with him; and from the last dilemma a mouse instructs him how to emerge.

*A son of Susanoo. Under the name of Iso-Takeru he is recorded to have brought with him a quantity of seeds of trees and shrubs, which he planted, not in Korea, but in Tsukushi (Kyushu) and the eight islands of Japan. These words "not in Korea" are worthy of note, as will presently be appreciated.

A curious episode concludes this recital: Susanoo requires that the parasites shall be removed from his head by his visitor. These parasites are centipedes, but the Great-Name Possessor, again acting under the instruction of Princess Forward, pretends to be removing the centipedes, whereas he is in reality spitting out a mixture of berries and red earth. Susanoo falls asleep during the process, and the Great-Name Possessor binds the sleeping Kami's hair to the rafters of the house, places a huge rock at the entrance, seizes Susanoo's life-preserving sword and life-preserving bow and arrows as also his sacred lute,* and taking Princess Forward on his back, flees. The lute brushes against a tree, and its sound rouses Susanoo. But before he can disentangle his hair from the rafters, the fugitives reach the confines of the underworld, and the enraged Kami, while execrating this visitor who has outwitted him, is constrained to direct him how to overcome his brethren and to establish his rule firmly. In all this he succeeds, and having married Princess Yakami, to whom he was previously engaged,** he resumes the work left unfinished by Izanagi and Izanami, the work of "making the land."

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