Sacred Regalia

Hear about the Sacred Regalia on Episode 49 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Sacred Regalia

The Sacred Regalia (三種の神器) are the three Sacred Items of the Imperial Throne, consisting of the Sword Kusanagi (草薙劍), the Jewel Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉) and the Mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡).

The Sacred Regalia is known to have been given by Amaterasu to her grandson Ninigi upon his descent to Earth.1

Yata no Kagami – Mirror

Creation

The mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡) was initially made by the kami Ishikoridome as one of the items used to try and coax Amaterasu out of the Rock Cave when she fled into it, this is related in the kojiki and nihongi. There is one alternate writing of the nihongi where the kami Amenonukado instead created this mirror, and that it was then placed inside of the cave where it his the door gaining a flaw which remains to this day.2

Reign of Emperor Sujin

According to a tale from the Jinnō Shōtōki, in the 6th year of his reign he summoned the kami Ishikoridome to create a new Sacred Mirror. It was made in Uda, Yamato.

The replica is placed in his hall for divine protection. The original being entrusted to Toyosukiiribime who built a sacred enclosure in Kasanui in Yamato to worship them in.

Later Toyosukiiribime was instructed by Amaterasu to journey the provinces with the Sword and Mirror.3

Reign of Emperor Suinin

After a site is chosen for the Ise Grand Shrine it is said the Emperor placed the Sword into the Naiku Shrine with the Mirror.4 The Jinnō Shōtōki differs slightly saying it was Yamatohime who placed them inside the shrine.3

Kusanagi – Sword

Discovery

Susano-o
Susano-o fighting the Dragon.

The sword Kusanagi (Grass Mower1) (Nihongi, Mura-kumo ‘Assembled Clouds’1) was discoverd by Susano-o inside the Dragon Yamata no Orochi.

Susano-o comes across the grieving parents of Kushinadahime as every year the Dragon Yamata no Orochi comes to take one of their children; Kushinadahime was to be the next. Susano-o says he will help them if they would give her to him in marriage and they agreed. (The story differs a little depending on the version of the Nihongi read). He instructs them to brew sake and when the Dragon appears it drinks the sake and falls down drunk. Susano-o then takes the opportunity to cut the dragon into pieces, killing it. When he is cutting up the tail, his blade became stuck and so opening up the tail to see why, he finds Kusanagi inside. The sword is then gifted up to Heaven by Susano-o (or by Ama no Fukine  in another version)2

Different versions of the tale, give different names to the sword Susano-o used to slay the Dragon, these being Ama no HayekiriOrochi no Karasabi and Orochi no Aramasa.2

Reign of Emperor Sujin

Like the tale above for the Mirror, according to a tale from the Jinnō Shōtōki, in the 6th year of his reign he summoned a desendant of Amenomahitotsu to make a new Sacred Sword. This was also made in Uda, Yamato.

The replica was placed in his hall for divine protection. The original being entrusted to Toyosukiiribime who built a sacred enclosure in Kasanui in Yamato to worship them in.

Later Toyosukiiribime was instructed by Amaterasu to journey the provinces with the Sword and Mirror.3

Reign of Emperor Suinin

As mentioned for the Sword above. After a site is chosen for the Ise Grand Shrine it is said the Emperor placed the Mirror into the Naiku Shrine with the Sword.4 The Jinnō Shōtōki differs slightly saying it was Yamatohime who placed them inside the shrine.3

Exploits of Yamato Takeru

Later, it was bestowed onto Yamato Takeru by his aunt Yamato Hime when he is sent to subjugate the Emishi. When he reaches Sagami Province he used the sword to escape a grass fire lit by a chieftain, using it to mow down the grass around him. He returns to his wife, leaving the sword behind when he goes to complete one more exploit.1

Footnotes

1. Littleton. C.S. (1995) “Yamato-takeru: An Arthurian Hero in Japanese Tradition”. Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 54, No.2, pp.259-274.
2. Aston. W.G. (1896) “Nihongi Volume 1: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD697”. Tuttle Publishing.
3. Varley, H.P (1980) “A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa.” New York: Columbia University Press.
4. Ponsonby, F. (1959) “The Imperial House of Japan.” Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society.

Check out the Japan Archives, our Japanese History Podcast.
Instagram (Japan): @japan_archives

Check out our Gaming Channel on Youtube.
Instagram (Minecraft): @mycenria

Find the website useful?
Please consider donating to help up keep the website running.