EP35 Light Returns


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Show Notes for episode 35 of our Podcast – Light Returns.

Story Notes

Light Returns
EP35 Light Returns

All the kami of Heaven gather on the banks of the river Amenoyasunokawa (meaning Heavens Tranquil Stream) while they decided what should be done to get Amaterasu to leave the cave after she flees into it from injuring herself with her shuttle. This again due to her meddling brother Susano-o. The Kojiki states it was left to Omoikane to decide what must be done.

To bring her out, cockerels are gather from the mythical land of Tokoyo. Stone is taken from the Amenoyasunokawa and iron from Heaven’s mountains.

The kami Amatsumara is brought, Ishikoridome fashions a mirror and Tamanooya makes a necklace of magatama.

Ameno Koyane and Ameno Futodama then conduct divination before they take a tree from Mount Kagu placing the mirror and magatama jewels upon it.

The kami Amenotajikarao then places himself just outside of the rock cave. Ameno Uzume the performs a lewd dance making everyone laugh, and so Amaterasu peers out of the cave wondering how people can be happy in her absence.

In the Kojiki, Ameno Futodama and Ameno Koyane place a mirror before her face, saying they are happy as there is someone here more beautiful than she. And so she steps a little more out of the cave.

Amaterasu
Amaterasu leaving the rock cave.

Once she is partially out, Amenotajikarao grabs her and pulls her from the cave bringing sunlight back into the world. Futodama and Koyane then take a sacred boundary rope and stretch it behind Amaterasu barring her from returning into the cave again.

So what happens in the end to Susano-o for causing all of this to happen?

Well, when his sister is finally coaxed out of the Sacred Rock cave a large fine of 1000 tables of food offerings is placed upon him and he is then exiled from Heaven. In the Nihongi it states he also had his hair pulled out with an alternate version of the Nihongi adding that his toenails were pulled out. With the Kojiki stating his beard, fingernails and toenails were cut off.

As he now needed to give up offerings of food, he beseeches Ōgetsuhime for her help. She does so by providing food from her various orifices, and Susano-o considering this food disgusting and defiled kills Ogetsuhime before leaving Heaven. And that particular tale we have already dealt with all the way back in Episode 12 in an alternate form, told differently in the Nihongi when it related to the kami Tsukiyomi and Ukemochi causing day and night to become separated.

Now a few things of note for the other kami and places we mentioned in this short tale (if we have extra information). And we will start with the places.

Tokoyo (Everworld) a mythological land and paradise which is said to be full of Immortals and be covered in golden orange orchards. It is said to be located ‘across the sea,’ and that is all we know of it’s location.

Mount Kagu forms part of the Yamato Sanzan, or Three Hills of Yamato, the other two peaks being Mount Unebi and Mount Miminashi. This mountain in particular at a height of 154.2 metres is said to have descended from Heaven and to be home of the kami Nakisawame (A kami of Mourning), who lives at the base of the tree trunks there.

Omoikane (思兼 / 思金) also known as Tokoyo-no-omoi-kane in addition to what we have said about him, is generally seen as the advisor to all the kami of Heaven.

Amatsumara (天津麻羅) is the is the kami of blacksmiths.

Ishikoridome (石凝姥命 or 伊斯許理度売命) is interesting when you look at alternative versions of this part of the Shinto Mythology. In one source, which we can call the Gleaning of Ancient Words it is said the first mirror she actually made was defected and turned into the kami Hinokuma. And another interesting thing is, several of these kami act as ancestors to the clans of Japan, and this kami was said to be the descendant of the clan of Mirror Makers. Unfortunately I have found nothing to tell me what clan this actually is so if anyone does know please let us know. Similarly Tamanooya, acted as ancestor to the clan of Jewel Makers and again I am not sure what clan this actually was.

Going on from that, Ameno Uzume is the ancestor of the Sarume Clan, Ameno Futodama is the ancestor of the Imbe Clan and Ameno Koyane is the ancestor of the Nakatomi Clan.

Poem Notes

Takarai Kikaku

Takarai Kikaku who is also known by the name Enomoto Kikaku, was born in 1661 and died in 1707. A haikia poet and a student of Matsuo Basho. Instead of joining his father’s profession – a doctor – he chose to become a haikai poet instead.

You might be wondering what Haikai is? Well, it’s linked verse poetry. The meaning comes from “vulgar/earthy” and used satire and puns. I’m not sure if Kikaku’s father was exactly thrilled with him chasing to become an “earthy poet” rather than a doctor, but I didn’t see anything in my searches about it. Something to look up in Japanese!

Basho wanted to elevate haikai poetry from its origins and was instrumental in changing the tone to be more serious. However it seems that Kikaku followed the more traditional style and kept to the more rougher subjects. Basho did influence some tone change, so perhaps Kikaku’s rougher style did become a little more refined due to this influence. It requires a deeper study.

He wrote a collection of poems called Minashiguri, published in 1683. He also wrote about Basho’s final days and after his death. In English this title is called An Account of Our Master Basho’s Last Days.

さくらがり
きょはめぐろの  
しるべせよ

sakura gari
kyo ha meguro no
shirubeseyo


Searching blossoms
Today let’s get a guide
to Meguro.

Feature Image: Sunrise from Tokyo Weekender.

You can listen to the full episode over on Anchor here: Japan Archives, or wherever you listen to Podcasts.

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Heavenly Spear