Yamata-no-Orochi


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大土地神楽2(スサノオ)

What dragon attacks the land of Izumo?

“Kojiki” is the oldest history book in Japan that was dedicated by “O-No-Ason-Yasumaro” in 712. All the important events since the creation of Japan until the time when Empress Suiko acceded the throne are written in this book.
The story of Yamata-no-Orochi is one incident that appears in the Izumo myths.

The God “Susano-no-mikoto” has a more unusual character than the rest of the Gods in Japanese mythologies. He is famous for being very rough, aggressive, complicated, and man-like (feeling more like a mortal man rather than a God).

The incident of “Yamata-no-Orochi” comes from the story about the banishment of Susano no mikoto.

Susano no mikoto was expelled from the land by his farther because he kept crying after witnessing his dead mother, and not listening to his father. So, he went to Takaamahara where his sister, the sun Goddess Amaterasu Omikami, dwells. Because he behaved so badly, Amaterasu Omikami ended up hiding in a rock cave and thus the world became dark and gloomy creating disasters. Many other concerned Gods created a successful strategy to draw her out of the cave. Susano-no-mikoto was again, expelled from the land. He then went up to “Torikami,” a part of Shimane, Okuizumo.
(It’s located at Mt. Sentsu, the headstream of the Hiikawa River that runs through Izumo city.)
After a while, a beautiful girl named “Kushiinadamine” and her parents were crying, because the horrific Yama-no-Orochi dragon wanted to eat her. Susano-no-mikoto made a deal with her parents that he would marry their daughter instead of trying to defeat the dragon.

Hiikawa river
Hiikawa river

A great river that has been cursed by Yamata-no-Orochi.

There are many interpretations about the incident regarding Yamata-no-Orochi, and it’s said that the Hiikawa River might be cursed by this dragon, because it repeatedly overflows.

When Susano-no-mikoto arrived in “Torikami,” where tara-seitetsu’ (an iron manufacturing method) started, some people said it had something to do with the Yamata-no-Orochi incident.

The theory goes like this; People cut down many trees for charcoal in the manufacturing of iron, and because of this the river overflows. When using sand to make iron, the river gets red and it causes trouble around the downstream area of the Hiikawa River. So, according to the theory, “Kushiinadahime” is a symbol of a rice field, and the overflow of the Hiikawa River destroys it every year. It is an interesting interpretation when thinking about the Izumo’s climate at that time.
There are many “Yamata-no-Orochi” related places in Okuizumo and the Yunnan district, The Kushinada-Shrine, which enshrines Kushiinadahime and the Suga Shrine, home to Susano-no-miko and Kushiinadahime.

Suga Shrine.
Suga Shrine.

There is no exact way to reveal the truth about the incident at Yamata-no-Orochi, but it’s part of what legends are all about, expanding our imagination.

※This article is featured by“Izumo Guide,” a website introducing Izumo‘s popular places.
For more info about sightseeing in Izumo, click here; http://www.izumo-kankou.gr.jp/ (Written in Japanese only).

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AUTHOR

HATSU

HATSU

Editor / Writer

I’m from Mie Prefecture, and a big fan of Yomiuri Giants, Japanese baseball team! I rarely stay at home every weekend, and love to go outside. I feel Japanese locals and the world will be connected soon! I’m trying to make a fun world!

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