Wednesday, November 23, 2011


In Japanese mythology, Susanoo, the powerful storm of Summer, is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon. All three were spawned from Izanagi, when he washed his face clean of the pollutants of Yomi, the underworld. Amaterasu was born when Izanagi washed out his left eye, Tsukuyomi was born from the washing of the right eye, and Susanoo from the washing of the nose.

The oldest sources for Susanoo myths are the ca. 680 AD Kojiki and ca. 720 AD Nihon Shoki. They tell of a long-standing rivalry between Susanoo and his sister. When he was to leave Heaven by orders of Izanagi, he went to bid his sister goodbye. Amaterasu was suspicious, but when Susanoo proposed a challenge to prove his sincerity, she accepted. Each of them took an object of the other's and from it birthed gods and goddesses. Amaterasu birthed three women from Susanoo's sword while he birthed five men from her necklace. Claiming the gods were hers because they were born of her necklace, and the goddesses were his, he decided that he has won the challenge, as his item produced women. The two were content for a time, but Susanoo, the Storm God, became restless and went on a rampage destroying his sister's rice fields, hurled a flayed pony at her loom, and killed one of her attendants in a fit of rage. Amaterasu, who was in fury and grief, hid inside the Ama-no-Iwato ("heavenly rock cave"), thus effectively hiding the sun for a long period of time.

Though she was persuaded to leave the cave, Susanoo was punished by being banished from Heaven. He descended to the province of Izumo, where he met an elderly couple who told him that seven of their eight daughters had been devoured by the eight-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi and it was nearing time for their eighth, Kushinada-hime (櫛名田比売?). The Nihon Shoki gives the most detailed account of Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi. Compare the Kojiki version where Chamberlain (1919:71-3) translates Susanoo as "His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness."
Then [His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness] descended from Heaven and proceeded to the head-waters of the River Hi, in the province of Izumo. At this time he heard a sound of weeping at the head-waters of the river, and he went in search of the sound. He found there an old man and an old woman. Between them was set a young girl, whom they were caressing and lamenting over. Sosa no wo no Mikoto asked them, saying: "Who are ye and why do ye grieve lament thus?" The answer was: "I am an Earthly Deity, and my name is Ashi-nadzuchi. My wife's name is Te-nadzuchi. This girl is our daughter, and her name is Kushinada-hime. The reason of our weeping is that formerly we had eight children, daughters. But they have been devoured year after year by an eight-forked serpent and now the time approaches for this girl to be devoured. There is no means of escape for her, and therefore do we grieve.” His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness said: "If that is so, wilt thou give me thy daughter?" He replied, and said: "I will comply with thy behest and give her to thee." Therefore His Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness on the spot changed Kushinada-hime into a many-toothed close-comb which he stuck in the august knot of his hair. Then he made Ashi-nadzuchi and Te-nadzuchi to brew eight-fold sake, to make eight cupboards, in each of them to set a tub filled with sake, and so to await the arrival its coming. When the time came, the serpent actually appeared. It had an eight-forked head and an eight-forked tail; its eyes were red, like the winter-cherry; and on its back firs and cypresses were growing. As it crawled it extended over a space of eight hills and eight valleys. Now when it came and found the sake, each head drank up one tub, and it became drunk and fell asleep. Then Sosa no wo no Mikoto drew the ten-span sword which he wore and chopped the serpent into small pieces. When he came to the tail, the edge of his sword was slightly notched, and he therefore split open the tail and examined it. In the inside there was a sword. This is the sword which is called Kusa-nagi no tsurugi. (tr. Aston 1896:1:52-53)
This sword from the dragon's tail, the Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") or the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi ("Grasscutter Sword"), was presented by Susanoo to Amaterasu as a reconciliation gift. According to legends, she bequeathed it to her descendant Ninigi along with the Yata no Kagami mirror and Yasakani no Magatama jewel or orb. This sacred sword, mirror and jewel collectively became the three Imperial Regalia of Japan.

From: Wiki
According to the ancient religion of Shinto, Susano-O no Mikoto, the Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male, is the god of the storms and of the sea. He is a Kami with a highly volatile temper, who is very often impulsive, but yet he also has a kind and generous side.

In the religion of Shinto, Kami may have multifaceted personalities. Susano-O is a prime example. The Kami's four spirits or "tama" cause him to behave in many different ways.

Susano-O's Ara-mi-tama (Rough Spirit) is very evident in the story of his birth and in his dealings with his sister, Amaterasu Omikami. Both Susano-O and Amaterasu are the offspring of the creators of the earth, Izanagi and Izanami.

Susano-O came into being as Izanagi, the Male Who Invites, was purifying himself by cleansing away the impurities that he had acquired in the process of attempting to reclaim Izanami, the Female Who Invites, from the underworld. Susano-O was born as his father was washing his August nose.

As soon as Susano-O came into existence, he immediately began wailing and lamenting for his mother. This wailing and lamenting already expressed the Kami's stormy character. His father tried to calm him, but his wails eventually became too much for everyone around to bear, so he was banished to the netherworld.

Susano-O decided that before he left on his journey to the underworld, he wanted to wish his sister Amaterasu farewell. However, his coming shook the ground and made so much noise that Amaterasu thought that danger was coming to her and she began preparing for it. When she saw that it was her brother that had caused all the commotion, she asked him for a sign of friendship, since she did not really believe that he was coming to see her in peace. After discussing the matter with each other, they decided to create more gods together in order to show their goodwill. Amaterasu chewed up her brother's sword, and spat out the pieces. From these pieces, three goddesses were created. Susano-O then chewed up the necklace which Amaterasu had been wearing, and created five gods. (Among the latter was Masa-ya-a-Katsu Kachi Hayabi-Ama no Oshi-ho-Mimi no Mikoto (Truly-I-Conquer-Swiftness-Heaven-of-Great-August-Person), who eventually became the father of Ninigi no Mikoto, the founder of the imperial line in Japan.)

It is said that at this point, Susano-O got so excited over his accomplishment that he lost all control. He completely destroyed all of the rice fields and irrigation ditches of heaven, and defiled one of Amaterasu's temples with his excrement. He then threw a flayed horse into a house belonging to Amaterasu where some women were weaving. (In one version of this story, one of the women was so distraught that she accidentally killed herself with her shuttle.) Amaterasu became very afraid when she saw all of her brother's reckless actions. She decided to hide herself in a cave and block it with a large rock. This action on her part plunged all of the heavens and the world into complete darkness, from which the other Kami only recovered by dint of clever stratagems and a measure of good luck.

Susano-O was punished for all of the mischief he had caused by having his hair cut off and his fingernails pulled. He was then immediately banished from heaven.


Another tale that shows his caring nature involves repaying kindness that he received from a very poor man. In return for his kindness, Susano-O told him how to prevent his home from ever being plundered by the Plague God. The method was simple: The man was to hang a plaited straw rope across the entrance of his house. That is how the custom of preventing spreads of epidemics by hanging straw ropes (shimenawa) along roads came to be tradition.

Further evidence illustrating Susano-O's general good nature involves one of his sons, O-Kuni Nushi, and O-Kuni-Nushi's half-sister, Suseri-hime. O-Kuni-Nushi wanted to marry Suseri-hime. Susano-O said he would consent to this only if O-Kuni Nushi could show himself to be worthy. He needed to pass various ordeals in order to prove himself. His father first put him into a room full of snakes where he was to sleep that night. His sister, Suseri-hime had given him a magic scarf that kept him safe. He was then put through a similar ordeal with wasps and hornets. Suseri-hime gave him a scarf to protect himself in this instance also. He was then asked by his father to retrieve a certain object from a field. When he had gone quite a distance into the field, his father set it on fire. However, since O-Kuni-Nushi was a friend to the animals, a field mouse showed him an underground room where he could hide until the fire subsided.

After these numerous ordeals, he had finally won his father's trust. When his father fell asleep, O-Kuni-Nushi tied Susano-O's hair to the rafters in Susano-O's home. He then grabbed his father's sword, bow and arrows, and his koto (a type of stringed musical instrument). O-Kuni-Nushi fled with Suseri-hime. When Susano-O awoke, he was unable to chase them immediately because his hair was tied to the beams of his house. After much tugging and pulling, he tore the beams down and went after them. He was able to follow them because of the sounds issuing from his koto. When he came within earshot of the pair, instead of being angry, he was impressed by their cunning, and not only allowed the marriage, but permitted them to keep the treasures they had stolen. He also gave O-Kuni-Nushi the right to rule the province.

More from: Here
A kami introduced by (Kojiki) as having come into being from the nose of Izanagi no mikoto as he was performing ablutions (misogi) to rid himself of pollution encountered while in the underworld (Yomi). In Nihongi, however, Susanoo is described as being produced by Izanagi and Izanami as part of the process of their giving birth to various kami (kamiumi). Both accounts describe Susanoo as one of a set of three kami known as the "three noble children," the other being Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi. In contrast to Amaterasu (sun) and Tsukuyomi (moon), Susanoo has been associated with wind and rain, but many elements of his personality remain unclear.

Susanoo was ordered by Izanagi to have domain over the sea plain, but instead wished to visit his mother in the underworld (Ne no kuni), with the result that he was banished. He next visited his sister Amaterasu in the Plain of High Heaven (Takamanohara), but he was suspected of insurrection and underwent a trial by pledge (ukei). Declaring himself the winner in the trial, Susanoo ran amok and caused Amaterasu to hide herself away in the heavenly cave, for which offense Susanoo was again banished.

Descending to Izumo in the "Central Land of Reed Plains" (Ashihara no Nakatsukuni), Susanoo defeated the serpent Yamata no orochi, received the sword "Kusanagi" and was awarded the maiden Kushinadahime, thus settling in the Suga area of Izumo.

In addition, Kojiki includes an episode in which Susanoo slays the goddess of food Ōgetsuhime, thus bringing into being the edible grains, and another in which he becomes lord of the underworld and sets various trials before the visiting Ōkuninushi.

While Susanoo is depicted as a unique deity active both in Izumo and the Plain of High Heaven, his exploits in the Plain of High Heaven are without exception disruptive of order, while he is described in the Izumo episode as a kami bringing orderly rule to the area, as indicated by the description of his statements as mikotonori (imperial proclamations).

The Izumo no kuni fudoki does not relate the kind of myths recounted in Kojiki and Nihongi, but describes Susanoo merely as one of the many kami in existence. In an extant excerpt from the Bingo no kuni fudoki, Susanoo is associated with a kami of pestilence known as Mutō, and from the medieval period, Susanoo was frequently identified with the deity Gozu Tennō.

From: Encyclopedia of Shinto
The Japanese Shinto god of the winds, the storms, and the ocean, also the god of snakes. He was born from the nose of Izanagi, and was given dominion over the seas. His sister, the sun goddess Amaterasu, is also his consort. Susanowa (Susanoto) is the personification of evil, but also a brave, if lawless and impetuous, god. His outrages are not limited to the ocean; he also ravages the land with his storms and he darkens the sky, thus angering the 'eight million deities (the kami).

His little pesterings, especially against his sister, proved his undoing: he looses his beard, his fingernails, and all his possessions, and is banished. He wanders the earth and has many adventures, such as the slaying of the eight-headed snake Koshi and by defeating this monster he obtained a powerful sword, called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi ("grass cutting sword"). Some other feats were conquering Korea and wiping out the plague. Okuni-Nushi, his son, eventually tricked him out of the sword.

From: Here

Also see, on MW:
Amaterasu {Goddess of the Week}

Other Links:

Shinto Creation myth
The Kojiki --full text
Amaterasu and Susanoo
Yamata no Orochi - serpent/dragon he slayed

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