Table of Contents
Homutsuwake was born prior to the assassination attempt on his father’s life by his mother.
His mother, mourning that she nearly took her husbands life, sneaks into her brothers castle (Sahobiko) with the prince Homutsuwake.
Attacks by the emperor against the castle intensify and eventually the castle is set on fire.1
In the kojiki the Empress had not yet given birth, and so after entering the castle the Emperor turned aside his armies to allow her to have her child. After this the child was put outside the stronghold. The Emperor being told if he considered the boy his child he could come and take him.
He sends his men to take the child and to also try and capture the Empress.
Angered they were unable to capture his wife he asks her to choose the childs name. As he had been born as the castle burnt she gave him the name Homutsuwake (Fire-possessing Lord)
Suinin then asked how he should raise the child, Sahobime saying to give him a foster mother and bathing women.
And so the Empreror kills Sahobiko and Sahohime.
Homutsuwake learns to talk
By the age of 30 the prince still did not speak. One day he sees a swan and finally talks saying ‘what is this thing?’
The Emperor happy at this asks who will go and collect this swan for his son. Amano Yukaha Tana volunteers and pursues it all the way to Tajima.
After capturing the swan, he returns and presents it to Homutsuwake and he finally learns to speak.
It is said someone by the name of Yamanobe no Ohotaka was sent to go and collect the swan.
He followed the swan through Harima to Kii, Inaba to Tanba, Tajima then eastwards until Afumi, Minu to Wohari, and finally Shinano to Koshi. There in the estuary of Wanami he caught it and brought it to the Emperor.
The emperor thought seeing the bird again would make the prince talk, but it did not, and so the Emperor retired and had a dream. He dreamt a kami said if he built a shrine like his abode then the prince would speak.
The next day he asks an oracle to see which deity spoke finding out it was Ōkuninushi who had placed this curse on the prince. The Emperor readied the Prince to go to the shrine to pay reverence, with a man called Aketatsu being sent to attend to him.
Aketatsu swore a sacred oath ‘if there is an answer to be found in adoring this kami, then let the heron I see on Sagisu no ike fall dead.’ And the heron then died.
In reply to this he said ‘by this oath live’ and the heron came back to life. By his oath he then made wither and come back to life an oak upon Cape Amakashi (Amakashi no saki)
They also leave with Prince Unakami leaving Nara through the Ki Gate, as leaving through the Nara Gate or Ohosaka Gate would have caused them to meet a lame or blind person which was bad luck. On their journey everyone they pass they give the name of Homujibe.
After arriving at the shrine, they pray and return. A temporary Palace with a black plaited bridge is then made for Homutsuwake in the middle of the River Hi.
A man called Kihisatsumi then made a mountain adorned with green leaves and placed it downstream. Just before he presented food to Homutsuwake he finally spoke.
‘This mountain is not a mountain, perhaps it is the court of those who worship Ashiharashikowo.’
1. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
2. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
3. Chamberlain, B. H. (1932) “Translation of the Kojiki.” Kobe: J.L. Thompson & Co.
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