Ancient Japan

Shinto Creation Stories

The Conflict between Ama-terasu and Sosa no wo

   After this Sosa no wo no Mikoto's behavior was exceedingly rude. In what way? Ama-terasu no Oho-kami had made august rice-fields of Heavenly narrow rice-fields and Heavenly long rice-fields. Then Sosa no wo no Mikoto, when the seed was sown in spring, broke down the divisions between the plots of rice, and in autumn let loose the Heavenly piebald colts, 1 and made them lie down in the middle of the rice-fields.

   Again, when he saw that Ama-terasu no Oho-kami was about to celebrate the feast of first-fruits, he secretly voided excrement in the New Palace. Moreover, when he saw that Ama-terasu no Oho-kami was in her sacred weaving hall, engaged in weaving the garments of the Gods, he flayed a piebald colt of Heaven, and breaking a hole in the roof-tiles of the hall, flung it in. 2 Then Ama-terasu no Oho-kami started with alarm, and wounded herself with the shuttle. Indignant at this, she straightway entered the Rock-cave of Heaven, and having fastened the Rock-door, dwelt there in seclusion. Therefore constant darkness prevailed on all sides and the alternation of night and day was unknown.

   Then the eighty myriads of Gods met on the bank of the Tranquil River of Heaven and considered in what manner they should supplicate her. Accordingly Omohi-kane no Kami, 3 with profound device and far-reaching thought at length gathered long-singing birds of the Eternal Land and made them utter their prolonged cry to one another. Moreover he made Tajikara-wo no Kami 4 to stand beside the Rock-door. Then Ame no Koyane no Mikoto, 5 ancestor of the Nakatomi no Muraji and Futo-dama no Mikoto, 6 ancestor of the Imibe no Obito, 7 dug up a five-hundred branched True Sakaki 8 tree c)f the Heavenly Mt. Kagu. 9 On its upper branches they hung an august five-hundred string of Yasaka jewels. On the middle branches they hung an eight-hand mirror. 10

   On its lower branches they hung blue soft offerings and white soft offerings. 11 Then they recited 12 their liturgy together. 13

   Moreover Ama no Uzume no Mikoto, 14 ancestress of the Sarumea no Kimi, took in her hand a spear wreathed with Eulalia grass, and standing before the door of the Rock-cave of Heaven, skillfully performed a mimic dance. 15 She took, moreover, the true Sakaki tree of the Heavenly Mount Kagu, and made of it a head-dress, she took club-moss and made of it braces, 16 she kindled fires, she placed a tub bottom upwards, and gave forth a divinely-inspired utterance.

   Now Ama-terasu no Oho-kami heard this, and said,

   "Since I have shut myself up in the Rock-cave, there ought surely to be continual night in the Central Land of fertile reed-plains. How then can Ama no Uzume no Mikoto be so happy?"

   So with her august hand, she opened for a narrow space the Rock door and peeked out. Then Tajikara-wo no Kami quickly took Ama-terasu no Oho-kami by the hand and led her out. Upon this the Gods Nakatomi no Kami and Imibe no Kami 17 at once drew a limit by means of a bottom-tied rope 18 and begged her not to return again into the cave.

   After this all the Gods put the blame on Sosa no wo no Mikoto, and imposed on him a fine of one thousand tables, 19 and so at length chastised him. They also had his hair plucked out and by this made him expiate his guilt.

   Another version is: They made him expiate it by plucking out the nails of his hands and feet.

   When this was done, they at last banished him downwards.

Translated by W.G. Aston, Nihongi (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1896), 40-45

Edited by Richard Hooker



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Updated 9-20-97