Kojiki 5

Part 5 – The Champion of Japan


The Heavenly Sovereign said to His Augustness Wo-usu: “Why does not thine elder brother come forth to the morning and evening great august repasts? Be thou the one to take the trouble to teach him his duty.” Thus he commanded; but for five days after, still the prince came not forth. Then the Heavenly Sovereign deigned to ask His Augustness Wo-usu, saying: “Why is thine elder brother so long of coming? Hast thou perchance not yet taught him his duty?” He replied, saying: “I have been at that trouble.” Again the Heavenly Sovereign said: “How didst thou take the trouble?” He replied, saying: ” In the early morning when he went into the privy, I grasped hold of him and crushed him, and, pulling off his limbs, wrapped them in matting and flung them away.


Thereupon the Heavenly Sovereign, alarmed at the valor and ferocity of his august child’s disposition, commanded him, saying: ” In the West there are two Kumaso Bravoes – unsubmissive and disrespectful men. So take them “-and with this command he sent him off. It happened that at this time his august hair was bound at the brow. Then His Augustness Wo-usu was granted by his aunt Her Augustness Yamato-himeo her august upper garment and august skirt; and, with a saber hidden in his august bosom, he went forth. So, on reaching the house of the Kumaso braves, he saw that near the house there was a threefold belt of warriors, who had made a cave to dwell in. Hereupon they, noisily discussing a rejoicing for the august cave, were getting food ready. So Prince Wo-usu sauntered about the neighborhood, waiting for the day of the rejoicing. Then when the day of the rejoicing came, having combed down after the manner of girls his august hair which was bound up, and having put on his aunt’s august upper garment and august skirt, he looked quite like a young girl, and, standing amidst the women, went inside the cave. Then the elder brother and the younger brother, the two Kumaso bravoes, delighted at the sight of the maiden, set her between them, and rejoiced exuberantly. So, when the feast was at its height, His Augustness Wo-usu, drawing the saber from his bosom, and catching Kumaso by the collar of his garment, thrust the saber through his chest, whereupon, alarmed at the sight, the younger bravo ran out. But pursuing after and reaching him at the bottom of the steps of the cave, and catching him by the back, Prince Wo-usu thrust the saber through his buttock. Then the Kumaso bravo spoke, saying: “Do not move the sword; I have something to say.” Then His Augustness Wo-usu, respited him for a moment, holding him down as he lay prostrate. Hereupon the bravo said: ” Who is Thine Augustness?” Then he said: ” I am the august child of Obo-tarashi-hiko-oshiro-wake, the Heavenly Sovereign who, dwelling in the palace of Hishiro at Makimuku, rules the Land of the Eight Great Islands; and my name is King Yamata-woguna. Hearing that you two fellows, the Kumaso bravoes, were unsubmissive and disrespectful, the Heavenly Sovereign sent me with the command to take and slay you.” Then the Kumaso bravo said: ” That must be true. There are no persons in the West so brave and strong as we two. Yet in the Land of Great Yamato there is a man braver than we two-tbere is. Therefore will I offer thee an august name. From this time forward it is right that thou be praised as the August Child Yamato-take.” As soon as he had finished saying this, the Prince ripped him up like a ripe melon, and slew him. So thenceforward he was praised by being called by the august name of his Augustness Yamato-take. When he returned up to the capital after doing this, he subdued and pacified every one of the deities of the mountains and of the deities of the rivers and likewise of the deities of Anado, and then went up to the capital.


Forthwith entering the land of Idzumo, and wishing to slay the Idzumo bravo, he, on arriving, forthwith bound himself to him in friendship. So, having secretly made the wood of an oak-tree into a false sword and augustly girded it, he went with the bravo to bathe in the River Hi. Then, His Augustness Yamato-take getting out of the river first, and taking and girding on the sword that the Idzumo bravo bad taken off and laid down, said: ” Let us exchange swords! ” So afterward the Idzumo bravo, getting out of the river, girded on His Augustness Yamato-take’s false sword. Hereupon His Augustness Yamato-take, suggested, saying: “Come on! let us cross swords.” Then on drawing his sword, the Idzumo bravo could not draw the false sword. Forthwith His Augustness Yamato-take drew his sword and slew the lclzumo bravo. Then he sang augustly, saying:

“Alas that the sword girded on the Idzumo bravo, and wound round with many a creeper, should have had no true blade!”

So having thus extirpated the bravoes and made the land orderly, he went up to the capital and made his report to the Heavenly Sovereign.


Then the Heavenly Sovereign again urged a command on His Augustness Yamato-take, saying: “subdue and pacify the savage deities and likewise the unsubmissive people of the twelve roads of the East”; and when he sent him off, joining to him Prince -Mi-suki-tomo-mimi-take, ancestor of the Grandees of Kibi, he bestowed on him a holly-wood spear eight fathoms long. So when he had received the imperial command and started off, he went into the temple of the Great August Deity of Ise, and worshiped the deity’s court, forthwith speaking to his aunt, Her Augustness Yamato-hine, saving: ” It must surely be that the Heavenly Sovereign thinks I may die quickly – for after sending me to smite the wicked people of the West, I am no sooner come up again to the capital than, without bestowing on me an army, he now sends me off afresh to pacify the wicked people of the twelve circuits of the East. Consequently I think that he certainly thinks I shall die quickly.” When he departed with lamentations and tears, Her Augustness Yamato-hine bestowed on him the “Herb-Quelling-Saber,” and likewise bestowed on him an august bag, and said: “If there should be an emergency, open the mouth of the bag.”


So reaching the land of Wohari, he went into the house of Princess Miyadzu, ancestress of the rulers of Wohari, and forthwith thought to wed her; but thinking again that he would wed her when he should return up toward the capital, and having plighted his troth, he went on into the Eastern lands, and subdued and pacified all the savage deities and unsubmissive people of the mountains and rivers. So then, when he reached the land of Sagamu, the ruler of the land lied, saying: “In the middle of this moor is a great lagoon, and the deity that dwells in the middle of the lagoon is a very violent deity.” Hereupon Yamato-take entered the moor to see the deity. Then the ruler of the land set fire to the moor. So, knowing that he had been deceived, he opened the mouth of the bag which his aunt, Her Augustness Yamato-hine had bestowed on him, and saw that inside of it there was a fire-striker. Hereupon he first mowed away the herbage with his august sword, took the fire-striker and struck out fire, and, kindling a counter-fire, burned the herbage and drove back the other fire and returned forth, and killed and destroyed all the rulers of that land, and forthwith set fire to and burned them. So that place is now called Yakidzu.


When be thence penetrated on, and crossed the sea of Hashiri-midzu, the deity of that crossing raised the waves, tossing the ship so that it could not proceed across. Then Yamato-take’s Empress, whose name was Her Augustness Princess Oto-tachibana, said:” Iwill enter the sea instead of the august child. The august child must complete the service on which he has been sent, and take back a report to the Heavenly Sovereign.” When she was about to enter the sea, she spread eight thicknesses of sedge rugs, eight thicknesses of skin rugs, and eight thicknesses of silk rugs on the top of the waves, and sat down on the top of them. Thereupon the violent waves at once went down, and the august ship was able to proceed. Then the Empress sang, saving:

“Ah I thou whom I inquired of, standing in the midst of the flames of the fire burning on the little moor of Sagamu, where the true peak pierces!”

So seven days afterward the Empress’s august comb drifted on to the sea-beach – which comb was forthwith taken and placed in an august mausoleum which was made.


When, having thence penetrated on and subdued all the savage Yemisi [Ainu] and likewise pacified all the savage deities of the mountains and rivers, he was returning up to the capital, he, on reaching the foot of the Ashigara Pass, was eating his august provisions, when the deity of the pass, transformed into a white deer, came and stood before him. Then forthwith, on his waiting and striking the deer with a scrap of wild chive, the deer was hit in the eye and struck dead. So, mounting to the top of the pass, he sighed three times and spoke, saying: ” Adzuma ha ya!” [My Wife!] So that land is called by the name of Adzuma.


When, forthwith crossing over from that land out into Kahi, he dwelt in the palace of Sakawori, he sang, saying:

“How many nights have I slept since passing Nihibari and Tsukuha?”

Then the old man, who was the lighter of the august fire, completed the august song, and sang, saying:

“Oh! having put the days in a row, there are of nights nine nights, and of days ten days!”

Therefore Yamato-take praised the old man, and forthwith bestowed on him the rulership of the Eastern lands.

Having crossed over from that land into the land of Shinanu and subdued the deity of the Shinanu pass, he came back to the land of Wohari, and went to dwell in the house of Princess Miyazu, to whom he had before plighted his troth. Hereupon, when presenting to him the great august food, Princess Miyazu lifted up a great liquor-cup and presented it to him.

After this, placing in Princess Miyazu’s house his august sword “the Grass-Quelling Saber,” he went forth to take the deity of Mount Ibuki.


Hereupon he said: “As for the deity of this mountain, I will simply take him empty-handed”– and was ascending the mountain, when there met him on the mountainside a white boar whose size was like unto that of a bull. Then he lifted up words, and said: “This creature that is transformed into a white boar must be a messenger from the deity. Though I slay it not now, I will slay it when I return”– and so saying, ascended. Thereupon the deity caused heavy ice-rain to fall, striking and perplexing His Augustness Yamato-take. (This creature transformed into a white boar was not a messenger from the deity, but the very deity in person. Owing to the lifting up of words, he appeared and misled Yamato-take.) So when, on descending back, he reached the fresh spring of Tamakura-be and rested there, his august heart awoke somewhat. So that fresh spring is called by the name of the fresh spring of Wi-same.


When he departed thence and reached the moor of Tagi, he said: ” Whereas my heart always felt like flying through the sky, my legs are now unable to walk. They have become rudder-shaped.” So that place was called by the name of Tagi. Owing to his being very weary with progressing a little farther beyond that place, be leaned upon an august staff to walk a little. So that place is called by the name of the Tsuwetsuki pass. On arriving at the single pine-tree on Cape Wotsu, an august sword, which he had forgotten at that place before when augustly eating, was still there, not lost. Then he augustly sang, saying:

“O mine elder brother, the single pine-tree that art on Cape Wotsu which directly faces Wohari! If thou, single pine-tree! wert a person, I would gird my sword upon thee, I would clothe thee with my garments – O mine elder brother, the single pine-tree!”

When he departed thence and reached the village of Mihe, he again said: ” My legs are like threefold crooks, and very weary.” So that place was called by the name of Mihe. When he departed thence and reached the moor of Nobe, he regretting his native land, sang, saying:

“As for Yamato, the most secluded of land – Yamato, retired behind Mount Awogaki encompassing it with its folds, is delightful.”

Again he sang, saying:

“Let those whose life may be complete stick in their hair as a headdress the leaves of the bear-oak from Mount Heguri -those children!”

This song is a land-regretting song. Again he sang, saying:

“How sweet! ah! from the direction of home clouds are rising and coming!”

This is an incomplete song. At this time, his august sickness very urgent. Then he sang augustly, saying:

The saber-sword which I placed at the maiden’s bedside, alas! that sword!”

As soon as he had finished singing, he died. Then a courier was dispatched to the Heavenly Sovereign.


Thereupon his Empresses and likewise his august children, who dwelt in Yamato, all went down and built an august mausoleum, and, forthwith crawling hither and thither in the rice fields encompassing the mausoleum, sobbed out a song, saying:

The Dioscorea quinqueloba crawling hither and thither among the among the rice-stubble in the rice-fields encompassing the Mausoleum..”

Thereupon the dead prince, turning into a white dotterel eight fathoms long, and soaring up to Heaven, flew off toward the shore. Then the Empress and likewise the august children, though they tore their feet treading on the stubble of the bamboo-grass, forgot the pain, and pursued him with lamentations. At that time they sang, saying:

“Our loins are impeded in the plain overgrown with short bamboo-grass. We are not going through the sky, but oh! we are on foot.”

Again when they entered the salt sea, and suffered as they went, they sang, saying:

“As we go through the sea, our loins are impeded -tottering in the sea like herbs growing in a great river-bed.”

Again when the bird flew and perched on the seaside, they sang, saying:

“The dotterel of the beach goes not on the beach, but follows the seaside.”

These four songs were all sung at Yamato-take’s august interment. So to the present day these songs are sung at the great interment of a Heavenly Sovereign. So the bird flew off from that country, and stopped at Shiki in the land of Kafuchi. So they made an august mausoleum there, and laid Yamato-take to rest. Forthwith that august mausoleum was called by. the name of the “August-Mausoleum of the White-Bird.” Nevertheless the bird soared up thence to heaven again and flew away.

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