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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

It is that Susanoo and his son


As

for the idea of blocking the "even pass of hades" with rocks, it appears to mean nothing more than that a military force was posted at Hirasaka--now called Ifuyo-saka in Izumo--to hold the defile against the insurgent troops under Izanami, who finally took the field against Izanagi. It may be inferred that the struggle ended indecisively, although Izanagi killed the chieftain who had instigated the rebellion (the so-called "Kami of fire"), and that Izanami remained in Izumo, becoming ruler of that province, while Izanagi withdrew to the eastern part of Tsukushi (Kyushu), where he performed the ceremony of grand lustration.

THE STORY OF SUSANOO

The story of Susanoo lends itself with equal facility to rationalization. His desire to go to his "mother's land" instead of obeying his father and ruling the "sea-plain" (unabara)--an appellation believed by some learned commentators to apply to Korea--may easily be interpreted to mean that he threw in his lot with the rebellious chiefs in Izumo. Leading a force into Yamato, he laid waste the land so that the "green mountains were changed into withered mountains," and the commotion throughout the country was like the noise of "flies swarming in the fifth month." Finally he was driven out of Yamato, and retiring to Izumo, found that the local prefect was unable to resist the raids of a tribe from the north under the command of a chief whose name--Yachimata no Orochi--signified

"eight-headed serpent."

This tribe had invaded the province and taken possession of the hills and valleys in the upper reaches of the river Hi, whence tradition came to speak of the tribe as a monster spreading over hills and dales and having pine forests growing on its back. The tribute of females, demanded yearly by the tribe, indicates an exaction not uncommon in those days, and the sword said to have been found by Susanoo in the serpent's tail was the weapon worn by the last and the stoutest of Orochi's followers.

There is another theory equally accordant with the annals and in some respects more satisfying. It is that Susanoo and his son, Iso-takeru, when they were expelled from Yamato, dwelt in the land of Shiragi--the eastern of the three kingdoms into which Korea was formerly divided--and that they subsequently built boats and rowed over to Izumo. This is distinctly stated in one version of the Chronicles, and another variant says that when Iso-takeru descended from Takama-ga-hara, he carried with him the seeds of trees in great quantities but did not plant them in "the land of Han" (Korea). Further, it is elsewhere stated that the sword found by Susanoo in the serpent's tail was called by him Orochi no Kara-suki (Orochi's Korean blade), an allusion which goes to strengthen the reading of the legend.

THE DESCENT OF NINIGI

Omitting other comparatively trivial legends connected with the age of Susanoo and his descendants, we come to what may be called the second great event in the early annals of Japan, namely, the descent of Ninigi on the southern coast of Tsukushi (Kyushu). The Records and the Chronicles explicitly state that this expedition was planned in the court at Takama-ga-hara (the "plain of high heaven"), and that, after sending forces to subdue the disturbed country and to obtain the submission of its ruler, the grandson (Ninigi) of the Sun goddess was commissioned to take possession of the land. It is also clearly shown that Izumo was the centre of disturbance and that virtually all the preliminary fighting took place there. Yet when Ninigi descends from Takama-ga-hara--a descent which is described in one account as having taken place in a closed boat, and in another, as having been effected by means of the coverlet of a couch--he is said to have landed, not in Izumo or in Yamato, but at a place in the far south, where he makes no recorded attempt to fulfil the purpose of his mission, nor does that purpose receive any practical recognition until the time of his grandson Iware. The latter pushes northward, encountering the greatest resistance in the very province (Yamato) where his grandfather's expedition was planned and where the Imperial Court was held.


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