Kojiki 4

Part 4 – The Beast-Legends


From His Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness was descended the deity Master-of-the-Great-Land. He had eighty deities his brethren; but they all left the land to the deity Master-of-the-Great-Land. The reason for their leaving it was this: Each of these eighty deities had in his heart the wish to marry the Princess of Yakami in Inaba, and they went together to Inaba, putting their bag on the back of the deity Great-Name-Possessor, whom they took with them as an attendant. Hereupon, when they arrived at Cape Keta, thev found a naked hare lying down. Then the eighty deities spoke to the hare, saying: “What thou shouldest do is to bathe in the sea-water here, and lie on the slope of a high mountain exposed to the blowing of the wind.” So the hare followed the instructions of the eighty deities, and lay down. Then, as the sea-water dried, the skin of its body all split with the blowing of the wind, so that it lay weeping with pain. But the deity Great-Name-Possessor, who came last of all, saw the hare, and said: “Why liest thou weeping? ” The hare replied, saving: “I was in the Island of Oki, and wished to cross over to this land, but had no means of crossing over. For this reason I deceived the crocodiles of the sea, saying: ‘ Let you and me compete, and compute the numbers of our respective tribes. So do you go and fetch every member of your tribe, and make them all lie in a row across from this island to Cape Keta. Then I will tread on them, and count them as I run across. Hereby shall we know whether it or my tribe is the larger.’ Upon my speaking thus, they were deceived and lay down in a row, and I trod on them and counted them as I came across, and was just about to get on land, when I said: ‘You have been deceived by me.’ As soon as I had finished speaking, the crocodile who lay the last of all seized me and stripped off all my clothing. As 1 was weeping and lamenting for this reason, the eighty deities who went by before thee commanded and exhorted me, saying: ‘Bathe in the salt water, and lie down exposed to the wind.’ So, on my doing as they had instructed me, my whole body was hurt.” Thereupon the deity Great-Name-Possessor instructed the hare, saying: ” Go quickly now to the river-mouth, wash thy body with the fresh water, then take the pollen of the sedges growing at the river-mouth, spread it about, and roll about upon it, whereupon thy body will certainly be restored to its original state.” So the bare did as it was instructed, and its body became as it bad been originally. This was the White Hare of Inaba. It is now called the Hare deity. So the hare said to the deity Great-Name-Possessor: “These eighty deities shall certainly not get the Princess of Yakami. Though thou bearest the bag, Thine Augustness shall obtain her.”


Thereupon the Princess of Yakami answered the eighty deities, saving: “I will not listen to your words. I mean to marry the deity Great-Name- Possessor.” So the eighty deities, being enraged, and wishing to slay the deity Great-Name-Possessor, took counsel together, on arriving at the foot of Tema in the land of Hahaki, and said to him: “On this mountain there is a red boar. So when we drive it down, do thou wait and catch it. If thou do not wait and catch it, we will certainly slay thee.” Having thus spoken, they took fire, and burned a large stone like unto a boar, and rolled it down. Then, as they drove it down and he caught it, be got stuck to and burned by the stone, and died. Thereupon Her Augustness his august parent cried and lamented, and went up to Heaven, and entreated His Divine-Producing-Wondrous-Augustness, who at once sent Princess Cockle-Shell and Princess Clam to bring him to life. Then Princess Cockle-Shell triturated and scorched her shell, and Princess Clam carried water and smeared him as with mother’s milk, whereupon he became a beautiful young man, and wandered off. Hereupon the eighty deities, seeing this, again deceived him, taking him with them into the mountains, where they cut down a large tree, inserted a wedge in the tree and made him stand in the middle, whereupon they took away the wedge and tortured him to death. Then on Her Augustness his august parent again seeking him with cries, she perceived him, and at once cleaving the tree, took him out and brought him to life, and said to him: “If thou remain here, thou wilt at last be destroyed by the eighty deities.” Then she sent him swiftly off to the august place of the deity Great-House-Prince in the land of Ki. Then when the eighty deities searched and pursued till they came up to him, and fixed their arrows in their bows, he escaped by dipping under the fork of a tree, and disappeared.


The deity Great-House-Prince spoke to him, saying: Thou must set off to the Nether-Distant-Land where dwells His Impetuous-Male-Augustness. That great deity will certainly counsel thee.” So on his obeying her commands and arriving at the august place of His Impetuous-Male-Augustness, the latter’s daughter the Forward-Princess came out, and saw him, and they exchanged glances and were married, and she went in again, and told her father, saying: ” A very beautiful deity has come.” Then the great deity went out and looked, and said: ” This is the Ugly-Male-Deity-of-the-Reed-Plains,” and at once calling him in, made him sleep in the snake-house. Hereupon his wife, Her Augustness the Forward-Princess, gave her husband a snake-scarf, saying: ” When the snakes are about to bite thee, drive them away by waving this scarf thrice.” So, on his doing as she bad instructed, the snakes became quiet, so that he came forth after calm slumbers. Again on the night of the next day the Impetuous–Male deity put him into the centipede and wasp-house; but as she again gave him a centipede and wasp-scarf, and instructed him as before, he came forth calmly. Again the Impetuous-Male deity shot a whizzing barb into the middle of a large moor, and sent him to fetch the arrow, and, when be bad entered the moor, at once set fire to the moor all round. Thereupon, while he stood knowing no place of exit, a mouse came and said: ” The inside is hollow-hollow; the outside is narrow-narrow.” Owing to its speaking thus, he trod on the place, whereupon he fell in and hid himself, during which time the fire burned past. Then the mouse brought out in its mouth and presented to him the whizzing barb. The feathers of the arrow were brought in their months by all the mouse’s children. Hereupon his wife the Forward-Princess came bearing mourning implements, and crying. Her father the great deity, thinking that the deity Great-Name-Possessor was already dead and done for, went out and stood on the moor, whereupon the deity Great-Name-Possessor brought the arrow and presented it to him, upon which the great deity, taking him into the house and calling him into an eight-foot spaced large room, made him take the lice off his head. So, on looking at the head, be saw that there were many centipedes there. Thereupon, as his wife gave to her husband berries of the muku tree and red earth, he chewed the berries to pieces, and spat them out with the red earth which he held in his mouth, so that the great deity believed him to be chewing up and spitting out the centipedes, and, feeling fond of him in his heart, fell asleep. Then the deity Great-Name-Possessor, grasping the great deity’s hair, tied it fast to the various rafters of the house, and, blocking up the floor of the house with a five-hundred draught rock, and taking his wife the Forward-Princess on his back, then carried off the great deity’s great life-sword and life-bow-and-arrows, as also his heavenly speaking-lute, and ran out. But the heavenly speaking-lute brushed against a tree, and the earth resounded. So the great deity, who was sleeping, started at the sound, and pulled down the house. But while he was disentangling his hair which was tied to the rafters, the deity Great-Name-Possessor fled a long way. So then, pursuing after him to the Even-Pass-of-Hades, and gazing on him from afar, be called out to the deity Great-Name-Possessor, saying: “With the great life-sword and the life-bow-and-arrows which thou carriest, pursue thy half-brethren till they crouch on the august slopes of the passes, and pursue them till they are swept into the reaches of the rivers, and do thou, wretch! become the deity Master-of-the-Great-Land; and moreover, becoming the deity Spirit-of-the-Living-Land, and making my daughter the Forward-Princess thy consort, do thou make stout the temple-pillars at the foot of Mount Uka in the nethermost rock-bottom, and make high the crossbeams to the Plain-of-High-Heaven, and dwell there, thou villain! So when, bearing the great sword and bow, he pursued and scattered the eighty deities, be did pursue them till they crouched on the august slope of every pass, he did pursue them till they were swept into every river, and then he began to make the land.


This Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears, when he went forth to woo the Princess of Nuna-kaha, in the land of Koshi, on arriving at the house of the Princess of Nunakaha sang, saying:

“I, The Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears, having been unable to find a spouse in the Land of the Eight Islands, and having heard that in the far-off Land of Koshi there is a wise maiden, having heard that there is a beauteous maiden, I am standing here to truly woo her, I am going backward and forward to woo her. Without having yet untied even the cord of my sword, without having yet untied even my veil, I push back the plank-door shut by the maiden; while I am standing here, I pull it forward. While I am standing here, the nuye sings upon the green mountain, and the voice of the true bird of the moor, the pheasant, resounds; the bird of the yard, the cock, crows. Oh! the pity that the birds should sing! Oh! these birds! Would that I could beat them till they were sick! Oh! swiftly flying heaven-racing messenger, the tradition of the thing, too, this!”

Then the Princess of Nuna-kaba, without yet opening the door, sang from the inside, saying:

Thine Augustness, the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears! Being maiden like a drooping plant, my heart is just a bird on a sand-bank by the shore; it will now indeed be a dotterel. Afterward it will be a gentle bird; so as for thy life, do not deign to die. Oh! swiftly flying heaven-racing messenger! the tradition of the thing, too, this!

Second Song of the Princess

When the sun shall hide behind the green mountains, in the night black as the true jewels of the moor will I come forth. Coming radiant with smiles like the morning sun, thine arms white as rope of paper-mulberry-bark shall softly pat my breast soft as the melting snow; and patting each other interlaced, stretching out and pillowing ourselves on each other’s jewel-arms – true jewel-arms – and with outstretched legs, will we sleep. So speak not too lovingly, Thine Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears! The tradition of the thing, too, this!”


Again this deity’s Chief Empress, Her Augustness the Forward-Princess, was very jealous. So the deity her husband, being distressed, was about to go up from Idzumo to the Land of Yamato; and as he stood attired, with one august hand on the saddle of his august horse and one august foot in the august stirrup, he sang, saying:

When I take and attire myself so carefully in my august garments black as the true jewels of the moor, and, like the birds of the offing, look at my breast -though I raise my fins, I say that these are not good, and cast them off on the waves on the beach. When I take and attire myself so carefully in my august garments green as the kingfisher, and, like the birds of the offing, look at my breast -though I raise my fins, I say that these, too, are not good, and cast them off on the waves on the beach. When I take and attire myself so carefully in my raiment dyed in the sap of the dye-tree, the pounded madder sought in the mountain fields, and, like the birds of the offing, look at my breast though I raise my fins, I say that they are good. My dear young sister, Thine Augustness! Though thou say that thou wilt not weep – if like the Rocking birds, I flock and depart, if, like the led birds, I am led away and depart, thou wilt hang down thy head like a single eulalia upon the mountain and thy weeping shall indeed rise an the mist of the morning shower. Thine Augustness my spouse like the young herbal The tradition of the thing, too, this!”

Then his Empress, taking a great august liquor-cup, and drawing near and offering it to him, sang, saying:

“Oh I Thine Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears! Thou, my dear Master-of-the-Great-Land indeed, being a man, probably best on the various island-headlands that thou seest, and on every beach headland that thou lookest on, a wife like the young herbs. But as for me alas! being a woman, I have no man except thee; I have no spouse except thee. Beneath the fluttering of the ornamented fence, beneath the softness of the warm coverlet, beneath the rustling of the cloth coverlet, thine arms white as rope of paper-mulberry bark softly patting my breast soft as the melting snow, and patting each other interlaced, stretching out and pillowing ourselves on each otber’s arms-true jewel-arms, and with outstretched legs, will we sleep. Lift up the luxuriant august liquor!”

She having thus sung, they at once pledged each other by the cup with their hands on each other’s necks, and are at rest till the present time. These are called divine words.

FEATURE: Apocrypha

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