E54B Divine Crow


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Show Notes for episode 54B of our Podcast – Divine Crow.

Story Notes

Divine Crow
Yatagarasu

Reading through my notes and the books again to double check everything before todays episode I came across a mistake from the last episode so lets quickly rectify that.  

We talked about Naga-sune-hiko and how he attacked Emperor Jimmu and his forces, and even caused the death of the Emperors brother. This was all correct, however, when I later say the Emperors forces managed to destroy Naga-sune-hiko and his men is not mentioned in the tale. I got a little confused with all the reading. So, for now, Naga-sune-hiko and his people have not been killed and live to fight another day.  

So on with the show. 

Now as you will recall the Emperor and his men fell into a deep sleep after seeing the bear in the mountains, however they were saved by Takakuriji and the heavenly sword that was brought to him so we will continue on from that moment.  

The Emperor decreed they would make their way inwards into the land, trying to traverse through the mountains of which they sadly had to admit defeat, finding no easy way through them. And so that night as he slept another Divine message came from above, this time to the Emperor.  

The sun goddess spoke to her heavenly descendant stating that she would help guide him onwards and send down to him the bird known as the Yatagarasu. And so he awoke, and saw the Yatagarasu appear from on high to lead them onwards, much to the Emperor happiness.  

Now there was a man known as Hi no Omi (Minister of the Sun) who was ancestor to the Otomo House; the Imperial Guard. It was he who led the troops in following the Yatagarasu until they reached a village called Ukechi. Due to the loyalty of Hi no Omi in following the bird, he gave him the new name of Michi no Omi (Minister of the Road). (This talk of his minister is purely mentioned in the Nihongi and not the Kojiki). 

Now here they stayed, the Emperor learning of the name of the rulers of the area of Uda. These being Ukeshi the Elder and Ukeshi the Younger. The Emperor summoned them to him. Only the Younger of the two comes, but he brings with him a tale of his brother.  

And that he is preparing the attack the Emperor and his men. When he learned the Heavenly child was coming, his raised an army, which he then hid from him, building a banquet hall his plan was to bring the Emperor to him to this hall and attack him after his arrival. And so, the Emperor knowing now of the treachery to come, send Michi no Omi to the Elder brother, forcing him to admit to what he was going to do. And so forcing the Elder brother into the banqueting hall he as crushed to death, and then beheaded, the blood from the act flooding the area up the ankle. 

In the aftermath, the remaining Younger brother threw a banquet in which much meat and sake was drunk, and many songs were sung.  

After such an extravagant feast the Emperor wished to then inspect the nearby area of Yoshino, and so headed onwards to there where upon his arrival he saw a well in which inside a Spirit jumped out. Their name was Wihikari in the Nihongi and Ihika in the Kojiki, and they were a local deity of the area. 

Soon after, at little way aways a deity came forth from a rock, calling themselves the child of Iha-oshi-wake, they themselves called Iha-oshi-waku-no-ko. 

And then they came across one more person who was fishing. The Nihongi does not give their name, but the Kojiki gives him the name of Nie-motsu-no-ko. The Nihongi stating they were the child of Nihe-motsu. Ancestor of the Cormorant Keeper of Ata. (Cormorants were and still are used by fisher men to catch fish). 

Now the Emperor proceeded to climb to the top of Mount Takakura, and from their he could see his enemies, a group of 80 bandits, an army of women, an army of men and the armies of Shiki the Elder. Together they would need to be subdued by the Emperor to unify the area. And so that night as he slept, again a divine message came to him from Amaterasu.  

She instructed him to make platters from earth gathered from Mount Kagu as well as to make sacred jars. And using them make sacrifices to the deities above. Should he do this then his enemies will be defeated. And funnily enough, as he awoke the next morning Ukeshi the Younger approached the Emperor with the exact same idea. The only problem was, getting through the enemy to gather the items they needed.  

And so Ukeshi the Younger was instructed to go, along with Shihi-netsu-hiko. One disguised himself as an old man, the other as an old woman and so off they trotted to Mount Kagu, approaching the enemy as they did so. Fortunately for them, the disguised worked and so they were free to pass and quickly moved to get the items they needed before returned to the Emperor. The platters were made, as were the jars and so next the Emperor moved to make Ame for the platters and sake for the jars with one goal in mind.  

If he was to make the ame he said ‘without water’ then it would show he would be successful in the fights to come.  

If he was to place the jars of sake in the river, and all the fish rise to the top drunk and be taken down river, again it would show he would be successful. 

And I am sure you know the results. The ame and sake did just what the Emperor hoped.  

A few weeks passes and then the Emperor moves to attack, first he attacked the eighty bandits of Mount Kunimi and defeated them, but still some remained. Emperor Jimmu then instructed Michi no Omi to invite the remained band to a banquet where they could capture them. However, none were captured and all were killed, after getting the remaining bandits drunk they were slaughtered. (Not to dissimilar to what Ukeshi the Elder was planning on doing himself to the Emperor when he invited him to his banquet). 

After they turned their attentions to Shiki the Elder and Shiki the Younger, the Emperor sending the Yatagarasu to summon Shiki the Elder to him. But the Elder refused, even aiming his bow as the creature before it fled to find his younger brother. Again the Yatagarasu said he was being summoned by Emperor Jimmu. After the Younger met with the Emperor his was sent back to his Elder brother to give him a message, in essence to jin them willingly or else be attacked. And at the same time, the same messaged were sent to two other brother, Kuraji the Elder and Kuraji the Younger. 

The Elder still refused to change his mind as so Shihi-netsu-hiko formed a battle plan. They would send their weakest troops towards the Elder, who would then think the Emperor was sending his best men to attack him. This would cause the Elder to send out also his best troops, and whilst this was happening the Emperors best men would then skirt around the back of the Elders army. And that is exactly what happened. With the Elder being attack both from the front and behind, he and his forces were quickly crushed and defeated.  

Next the Emperor found himself again fighting Naga-sune-hiko (the man from last week who killed the Emperors brother and which I accidently said was killed), but still the Emperor found that he could not defeat this man. Then suddenly the sky became overcast and hail began to fall in droves, and from above a wonderous bird, a kite of gold came to perch atop the Emperor’s bow.  

And that is where I shall leave the tale for today. On a slight cliff hanger. 

Next week will be our conclusion to the tale of the first Emperor of Japan.  

Poem Notes

Higuchi Ichiyo
Higuchi Ichiyo

Thomas gave me a challenge to find a poem by an author we haven’t talked about before.  

And I rose to the challenge! 

Higuchi Ichiyo was born on May 2, 1872.  She was an author and a poet, writing in the classical Japanese style. While she was more famous for her short stories, she wrote several poems as well. She wrote an anthology of poems titles Ichiyo’s Waka Analogy, which contains over 3000 poems.  

And if you live in Japan, you have probably seen her quite frequently, as she is on the 5000 Yen Bill. 

And this is where I will stop for today, because we’ll have an upcoming podcast about her to complete our Japan bills series. 

春日野に 
萌え出る春の 
若草の 
早くも人を 
見初めつるかな 

Ah, how swiftly 
the spring grasses have come out 
on Kasuga Moor 
As swiftly as I have come 
to take notice of you 

References

  • Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
  • Carter, S. (2019) ”How to Read a Japanese Poem”. New York: Columbia University Press. 
  • Ponsonby, F. (1959) “The Imperial House of Japan.” Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society.
  • Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.

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