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"Alone among Women"1: A Comparative Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu TheologyI



The work of comparing mythic elements from Kojiki[Glossary: kojiki] and Nihon shoki[Glossary: nihon_shoki](Nihongi) with mythic traditions of countries close to Japan and analyzing the distribution of similar mythic elements has long been undertaken by students of Japanese ethnography. The results of work by Takagi Toshio, Matsumoto Nobuhiro, Oka Masao, Matsumura Takeo, Numazawa Kiichi, Mishina Shôei, Matsumae Takeshi, Ôbayashi TaryôItô Seiji, and Yoshida Atsuhiko have made it abundantly clear that the Kojiki and Nihongi did not occur in isolation, but were products of the collation of mythic elements shared throughout the surrounding geographical region.2 Also, the work of describing the framework within which those mythic elements were combined and systematized has made great strides in recent years under theoretical influence from Levi Strauss's structural study of myth.3

With the background of this accumulated body of ethnological research and mythic studies, I want to use the the model of binary opposites found within the structural study of myth as a tool for the analysis of the system of myths found within the Kojiki and Nihongi.

The object of my study will not be the sources of the individual mythic elements --- namely, their geographical, historical, and cultural origins --- but rather the Kojiki myths taken as a systematic whole. Further, I will not concentrate so much on presenting a description of the static system as on discussing the operative factors within the process whereby the mythic system came into being.

The Kojiki and Nihon shoki were created as the result of the integration and systematization of disparate mythic elements, each with its own derivation. One can detect in small details and minor elements of the myths certain aspects that point to their first origins; paying attention to such details and minor elements may facilitate not only a study of the derivation of mythic elements, but also the attempt to reconstruct the form the myths possessed prior to their being recomposed within the system of the Kojiki and Nihongi.

Here, however, I want to focus, rather, on the kind of ideological framework into which the disparate mythic elements were assembled and integrated. In other words, I want to consider what might be called the "theological origins" of the mythic system of the Kojiki and Nihongi. Rather than attempting to reconstruct the primitive form, or Ur-text from the pages of these works, I am interested in discovering what kind of intellectual processes may have been involved in the formation of the matrix which transformed and reincorporated those elements.

Further, I want to touch as well on the issue of the relationship between myth and ritual. The two are obviously not unrelated, and inasmuch as the myths of the Kojiki and Nihongi were used --- as myths of kingship --- to assert the ruling legitimacy of the Yamato court[Glossary: yamato_chotei] and its "great king" (emperor), it goes without saying that they reflected rituals of kingship.

Finally, based on the general assumption that ritual behavior is more resistant to change than myth, frequent attempts have been made to analyze and explain the various parts of the mythos as reflecting the rituals of spirit pacification (chinkon-sai[Glossary: chinkon] ), enthronment (daijô-sai[Glossary: daijosai]), or imperial dedication (the "festival of many islands" or yasoshima-sai[Glossary: yasoshima_matsuri]), which were observed within the court or by various clans. And it is certain that many questions have been answered as a result of such research. Such success, however, does not necessarily mean that one can easily equate myth with ritual. To explain myth as nothing more than the reflection, or articulation in language, of the reality represented by ritual behavior is to belittle the unique nature of myth itself. Since we have no way of erecting clear-cut standards regarding the degree of ritual to be read into myth, if we decide, rather, to pay attention to the unique characteristics of myth itself --- the development of its creative imagination unrestricted by reality, its unfettered elasticity and flexibility, and its nature as a consolidation or systematization of ideology --- we can recognize the value of minimizing the application of ritual data to the understanding of a myth's own internal consistency. Further, this can be done without denying the significance of ritual data as an important tool for the analysis of myth in general.

To suggest a modern metaphor, ritual might be thought of somewhat like a television image without sound, while myth is the soundtrack accompanying the visual image on the screen. While the union of image and soundtrack produces the most complete message, it is also possible for the soundtrack (spoken language) to exist as a medium, like radio, independent of any visual image. In a similar way, it is possible for myth to form its own world independent of ritual.

I also want to introduce feminist perspectives and concerns as part of my response to this problem. I do this out of a belief that the "generation" of the imperial goddess Amaterasu forms an important guide to the discovery of the Kojiki's core ideology, the matrix integrating and systematizing the various mythic elements. As a myth of kingship, the Kojiki sets up Amaterasu as the chief deity in the heavenly pantheon while making her descendants the emperors who rule here on earth. If so, then it is important to introduce the ideological nature of men's view of women if we are to understand the nature of the Kojiki. Based on that perspective, I then want to expand my discussion to a consideration of the social perceptions of the class responsible for establishing the mythos of the Kojiki and Nihongi.4

1. The Goddess as an Ideal Projection of Men

In the process of its emergence, a social group relies on monotheistic doctrines or polytheistic myths as an explanation for the group's origins and as legitimation for the group's various social institutions --- including those of political control.

The mythic systems found in polytheistic religions are explained as networks of relationality, extending from the gods --- both male and female --- to the relations between nature, culture and humans --- and to those relations existing between the classes of rulers and ruled. And the meaning of myth cannot be correctly understood except as the structure of this cluster of relationalities.

Members of the society who particularly require a systematic body of myth are the males occupying positions responsible for the establishment and administration of the media of social power. Due to restrictions on the length of this paper, I must begin my discussion without providing an adequate introduction to the results of feminist studies which describe how authoritarian male rule existed widely in both space and time, and how it was also expressed in myth. Such research, however, is important in helping us understand the mythic system of the Kojiki and Nihongi as a kingship myth --- a myth with political design.5

Whether such male-domininated agencies of power were at work in the period in which the ideology of the Kojiki and Nihongi was established is an issue that must be judged based on the relevance of the discussion that follows. If it is indeed found that such was the case, it will henceforth be necessary to analyze the depiction and status of women within the body of myth as a product of male self-legitimation.

As a result, I will not assume here the substantialist perspective that interprets the status of mythic women and goddesses as direct reflections of actually existing social conditions. In other words, the fact that Kojiki and Nihongi depict the goddess Amaterasu as imperial ancestral deity should not be taken as indicating a historical period in which women held greater power than men. Rather, I want to advance my discussion under the assumption that men were responsible for creating Amaterasu as a particular, symbolic type of goddess, and that they installed her at the center of the mythos as a means of legitimating their own structures of power.

In other words, the purpose of this paper is to document the process whereby a mythologiques was formulated by males, focused on the goddess Amaterasu.

2. The Distinctiveness of the "Virgin Mother" Amaterasu

Amaterasu was ancestral deity solely of the clan of the ruler known as tennô. This goddess was ancestral deity of the patrimonial lineage extending from Ho no Ninigi[Glossary: ninigi_no_mikoto] and Ugaya-fukiahezu, in other words, deity of the emperors transmitting (or so it was claimed) this lineage, who were mostly male, women being the rare exception. In other words, she was not considered ancestral goddess of the entire Japanese nation, but mother goddess acting as ancestral deity to a specially privileged male group. To begin, let us consider how the Kojiki describes Amaterasu's birth and transformation into a mother deity.

Following the death of his wife Izanami[Glossary: izanami], the deity Izanagi[Glossary: izanagi] proceeded to the underworld of Yomi[Glossary: yomi] in hopes of bringing her back. Failing in that attempt, Izanagi returned to the world, and bathed at Awagihara in Tachibana of Hyûga [in present-day Kyushu], so as to purify himself from the pollutions of Yomi. The Kojiki states that Amaterasu was born when Izanagi bathed his left eye. As a result, Amaterasu was given birth not from her mother, but from her father Izanagi. In short, Amaterasu is dissociated from natural birth by woman; rather than representing the equation "woman=nature," Amaterasu is presented as a product of the equation "man=culture." As a means of asserting their own superiority, men protray women as an inferior sex easily subject to pollution --- beings linked more closely to nature than to culture --- but here, Amaterasu is free from such negative value imposed by men on women.

Further, Amaterasu is portrayed, without negative femininity, as becoming pseudo-mother to the original male ancestor of a specific kinship group. When Susanoo[Glossary: susanoo_no_mikoto] ascended to the Plain of High Heaven, Amaterasu feared that his intention was to deprive her of her kingship, with the result that she appeared in martial array when going out to greet him, but Susanoo protested his innocent intent, and to prove his sincerity, Susanoo suggested that the two deities undergo trial by pledge (ukehi), with the object of producing offspring.

As the two deities stood astride the Ame no Yasukawa ["easy river of heaven"], Amaterasu broke Susanoo's sword and chewed it in her mouth, then blew out a mist, thus producing the three goddesses of Munakata[Glossary: munakata_no_san_joshin]. On the other hand, Susanoo chewed up Amaterasu's curved jewels and blew out a mist from which were produced the five male deities Oshihomimi[Glossary: amenooshihomimi_no_mikoto], Amenohohi, Amatsuhikone, Ikutsuhikone, and Kumanokusubi. Since the five male children were produced from Amaterasu's "essence" (monozane), while the three goddesses were produced from Susanoo's, Amaterasu claimed the five male deities as her own children.

In this way, Amaterasu claimed Oshihomimi --- ancestor of the imperial family --- as her own child, even while remaining untouched by the activities of sexual congress, conception, and childbirth. The result was that she became a mother goddess while remaining innocent of a woman's natural physical experience. Amaterasu thus became imperial ancestral deity, but one who remained in a state of eternal virginity, untouched by the pollution which men imputed to women as a result of the normal process of giving birth. The resulting "virgin mother" goddess can be understood as the product of a compromise, wherein the inescapable reality that descendants are born only from women was synthesized with the ideal of men's cultural superiority. In other words, Amaterasu was none other than an imperial ancestor deity produced by the elimination of pollution --- which men had made the rationale for women's inferiority --- from the necessary evil represented by a mother goddess.

Needless to say, this is not the only kind of myth that could have been conceived as a means of eliminating "woman's stigma" from a high deity representing the root source of a ruling lineage. For example, just as Izanagi produced Amaterasu by himself, it should be possible to imagine a myth in which a male deity, himself born from a male deity is, in turn, made solely responsible for giving birth to the male ancestor of the earthly ruling lineage.

But such a myth would involve two problems. First of all, such a setting would weaken the impact of the unique motif of a male deity's giving birth alone to children. The story of Izanagi's giving birth alone has mythic importance precisely because it occurs only once, just at the decisive moment masculine culture takes on independent existence out of the preceding chaos. But if such parthenogenetic birth were repeated twice again, the motif's original significance would be attenuated. Second, even if the female stigma had been eliminated by proposing that the ruler was produced through male parthenogenesis, it would have remained impossible to provide a mythic basis for the undeniable existence of women in real society, and thus to legitimate the relations between the two sexes. In order to indirectly join the existence of the necessary evil of women as "negative" beings with the ruling class of men, and to recognize the necessity of women even while insisting on the superiority of men, it was important to characterize the imperial ancestral deity as the common meeting point between men and women.

3. Susanoo

It is also necessary to consider Amaterasu within the framework of her relationship to other deities, based on the nature of each deity's sphere of influence or authority. The first deity that should be considered within that framework is Susanoo. Amaterasu was produced from Izanagi together with her sibling deities Tsukiyomi[Glossary: tsukuyomi_no_mikoto] and Susanoo. Despite the fact that Tsukiyomi is included within Izanagi's "three noble children," however, he is given extremely brief treatment within the pages of the Kojiki and Nihongi. Susanoo, by contrast, plays a crucial role in relation to Amaterasu's status.

First, Susanoo is given the opportunity to provide Amaterasu with children through their trial by pledge. Amaterasu becomes the mother of Oshihomimi without engaging in sexual union, but it nonetheless occurs within the context of an exchange of "essences" with Susanoo, and on the level of myth, is is recognized that neither Oshihomimi nor his descendants the emperors could exist without Susanoo.

Further, Susanoo engages in violently disruptive conduct toward Amaterasu on the Plain of High Heaven, provoking Amaterasu to hide away in the Rock Cave of Heaven. In turn, it is by her reappearance from the rock cave that Amaterasu ultimately achieves her sure status in Heaven, making it necessary to recognize Susanoo's indispensible --- even though in a negative sense --- role in establishing Amaterasu as supreme deity. Susanoo is a rival who threatens Amaterasu's status by engaging repeatedly in violent behavior that represents a state of disorder and chaos. The fact that Susanoo is deliberately portrayed in this way appears to have the purpose of reinforcing the sacred order embodied by the imperial ancestral deity Amaterasu.

Similarly, by portraying the deity Ônamuchi, central figure in the Izumo line of deities, as a descendant of Susanoo, the latter was linked to the Izumo region. By associating Izumo with Susanoo in this way, the region --- which was opposed to Yamato hegemony --- could be portrayed as being in conflict with legitimate order.

But Susanoo's antinomian character was not something to be absolutely rejected, since it represented a negative element that was nonetheless indispensible for the creation and completion of the order embodied by Amaterasu. What kind of mental processes operated in the background to the demand for a relationship with the "villain" Susanoo that would make that relationship a "creative" element within the Amaterasu myth?

First, it is noteworthy that as the mythic time frame unfolds from divine age to human age, the generation beginning with Amaterasu and her sibling offspring of Izanagi no longer demonstrates the earlier unusual motifs of giving birth. Namely, the first seven generations of deities that appeared earlier are described as "becoming" through a process resembling spontaneous generation, and following the death of the kami Izanami and Kagutsuchi[Glossary: kagutsuchi], other deities are generated spontaneously from their corpses. Izanagi likewise produces his "three noble children" through a process of parthenogenesis while undergoing lustration. But beginning with the appearance of Amaterasu, the earlier kinds of spontaneous generation and parthenogenesis --- namely, a-human means not requiring the participation of two parents --- are no longer in evidence.

In the case of that embodiment of ideal order, Amaterasu, monosexual reproduction is not mythically desirable. But at the same time, portraying her as engaging in the conceptually inferior activity of sexual congress like ordinary women was also likely thought to represent an undesirable blot on her transcendence. As a result, her feminine elements were attenuated, and she was depicted in the refined status of a "masculine" goddess. Even so, however, given the necessity of mythically linking Amaterasu to descendants culminating in the historical emperors, it was unavoidable that her sexual features as a female be left minimally intact. The device of bearing children via an exchange of "essences" (monozane) with a male deity was probably conceived as a means of giving Amaterasu the qualities of both sexes, namely the ability to produce offspring as a woman, together with freedom from the pollution thought by men to be an attribute of women.

But at the same time, no matter how transcendental a female she might be, and no matter how she was freed from the pollution of women, it remained finally impossible for Amaterasu to bear offspring without the participation of a male. And from the perspective of males, such a concept was actually welcomed. In other words, we have here once again the pattern of male-superiority wherein the equation "female="nature"" could not demonstrate its force without the simultaneous acceptance of the equation "male="culture.""

This consideration leads us to three conclusions: (1) the power of the male is indispensable for producing offspring; (2) elements at opposition with the Plain of High Heaven are depicted in a negative light; and (3) by eliminating the opposition, final emphasis is given to the order established on the Plain of High Heaven. In sum, it is the fusion of these three elements in a single mythic cycle that is depicted in the the Plain of High Heaven of the Susanoo myths.

4. Izanami

Another problem involves the issue of how various female characteristics are expressed and portrayed in the medium of the goddess, and our understanding of the issue may be enhanced by comparing Amaterasu with Izanami. As a result of sexual union with Izanagi, Izanami produced numerous offspring kami. In other words, she was unable to escape from the pollution of birth, one of the contaminations men had attributed to women, and she ultimately died as a result of burns suffered while giving birth to the kami of fire, Kagutsuchi. As a result, she was also fouled with the pollution of death. Further, when her husband Izanagi arrived in Yomi to take her back, she was humiliated because he witnessed her putrid appearance, chasing him away and terminating her marriage relationship with him, then vowing to extract vengeance by depriving the world of life.

This depiction of Izanami simultaneously reflects men's understanding of the need for females in producing descendants, and the pollution which men associated with women by virtue of their being the sex that gives birth, together with the dangerous tendency toward rebellion thought by men to be a trait of women. When limited to the myths of the Kojiki and Nihongi in contrast to concrete ritual behavior at shrines, if Amaterasu is situated at the pole of an ideally "masculine" female, then it is Izanami who is situated at the opposite extreme, as a caricature of the real female.

5. The Hainuwele-Type Goddess

The Kojiki and Nihongi state that rice and other grains, horses, oxen and other livestock, and the silkworms responsible for producing silk were all produced by goddesses. Of these goddesses, only one, Wakubumusubi, is described in a single, isolated episode not woven into the remainder of the mythic cycle. According to the second alternate version of this episode as recorded in the Nihon shoki,

Upon this, Kagutsuchi took to wife Haniyamabime and they had a child named Wakumusubi[Glossary: wakumusubi_no_kami]. From the top of this kami's head were born the silkworm and the mulberry, while the five grains were produced from her navel."II

By contrast, the stories describing the goddesses Ôgetsuhime and Ukemochi[Glossary: ukemochi] relate that the aforementioned cultural products were produced from the corpse of the respective slain goddess. As recorded in the Kojiki, Ôgetsuhime was murdered by Susanoo upon the latter's return to earth after being banished from the Plain of High Heaven:

Again, [Susanoo] asked food of Ôgetsuhime no kami. Then Ôgetsuhime took various viands out of her nose, her mouth, and her rectum, prepared them in various ways, and presented them to him.Thereupon Haya-Susanoo no mikoto, who had been watching her actions, thought that she was polluting the food before offering it to him and killed Ôgetsuhime no kami. In the corpse of the slain deity there grew [various] things: in her head there grew silkworms; in her two eyes there grew rice seeds; in her two ears there grew milet; in her nose there grew red beans; in her genitals there grew wheat; and in rectum there grew soy beans. Then Kamimusubi mioya no mikoto had these taken and used as seeds.

While the Kojiki here links the first generation of rice to the death of Ôgetsuhime, it has already recorded in an earlier passage that Amaterasu's heavenly rice paddies were desecrated by Susanoo, thus producing a contradiction in the mythic sequence. In contrast, the eleventh alternate version related by the Nihon shoki suggests a more logical sequence, recording that Susanoo's rampage through Amaterasu's heavenly rice fields took place after the generation of rice and silkworms from the corpse of the goddess Ukemochi. Further, all the things produced from Ukemochi's corpse --- grains, livestock, and silkworms --- were presented to Amaterasu, and thus used for the first time as seed in Amaterasu's heavenly fields:

Now when Amaterasu no ôkami was already in Heaven, she said, "I hear that in the Central country of reed-plains there is the Deity Ukemochi no kami. Do thou, Tsukiyomi no mikoto, go and wait upon her." Tsukiyomi no mikoto, on receiving this command, descended and went to the place where Ukemochi no Kami was. Thereupon Ukemochi no kami turned her head towards the land, and from her mouth there came boiled rice: she faced the sea, and again there came from her mouth things broad of fin and things narrow of fin. She faced the mountains and there came from her mouth things rough of hair and things soft of hair. These things were all prepared and set out on one hundred tables for his entertainment. Then Tsukiyomi no mikoto became flushed with anger, and said, "Filthy! Nasty! That you should dare to feed me with things disgorged from your mouth." So he drew his sword and killed her, then returned and made his report, relating all the circumstances. At this, Amaterasu no ôkami was exceedingly angry, and said, "You are a wicked deity. I must not see you face to face." So they were separated by one day and one night, and lived apart. After this, Amaterasu no ôkami sent a second time Amekumabito to go and see her. At this time, Ukemochi no kami was truly dead already. But on the crown of her head there had been produced the ox and the horse; on the top of her forehead there had been produced millet; over her eyebrows there had been produced the silkworm; within her eyes there had been produced panic; in her belly there had been produced rice; in her genitals there had been produced wheat, large beans and small beans. Amekumabito carried all these things and delivered them to Amaterasu no ôkami, who was rejoiced, and said, "These are the things which the race of visible men will eat and live." So she made the millet, the panic, the wheat, and the beans the seed for the dry fields, and the rice she made the seed for the water fields. Therefore she appointed a Muragimi of Heaven, and thus sowed for the first time the rice seed in the narrow fields and in the long fields of Heaven. That autumn, drooping ears bent down, eight span long, and were exceedingly pleasant to look on. Moreover she took the silkworms in her mouth, and succeeded in reeling thread from them. From this began the art of silkworm cultivation.III

When one compares the myths of Wakumusubi, Ôgetsuhime, and Ukemochi, the above sequence presents the greatest systematic uniformity and internal consistency. In the most complete version of the myth of Ukemochi, the goddess presenting foods is killed, and from her body are produced grains, livestock, and silkworms, which are then offered to Amaterasu. It is not strange to find a goddess --- belonging to the female sex that gives birth --- made responsible for producing things like grains, livestock, and the silk material for clothing. But here, these goddesses are violently murdered by men who consider them polluted beings. In sum, they are exploited solely as material objects, and do nothing more than provide materials from their dead bodies. In contrast, it is to the "masculine" goddess Amaterasu that goes the honor of jurisdiction over these valuable materials, of making them usable, sanctifying them and providing them to the world through her offspring the imperial ancestors.

The motif of the generation of food from the body of a "slain goddess" is a common feature of the so-called "Hainuwele-type myth," a myth of food origins transmitted by early agricultural peoples. As transmitted by the Kojiki and Nihongi, however, the myth places less emphasis on the sacralization of the goddess than on her material exploitation, and the honor of bestowing the cultural materials produced from her corpse goes instead to the masculine Amaterasu, thought to be a product of the male imagination. Here, too, one can recognize the pattern wherein the female is equated with nature and the male with culture. Namely, Amaterasu Ômikami once again is made --- for the convenience of men --- to play the role of standing between and mediating the female sex which gives birth and the male sex which exploits. And while the role itself could likely have been played equally by a feminine male or a masculine female, the deity's status as imperial ancestral deity made it imperative, as noted earlier, that she be a female, with the result that Amaterasu came to be depicted as a "masculine" goddess.

6. Rice

The Kojiki calls the earthly world "Toyoashihara no chiaki no nagaihoaki no mizuho no kuni," while the Nihon shoki calls it "Chiihoaki no mizuho no kuni," IV appelations idealizing it as an ideal land where forever ripen bountiful ears of rice. Further, the Kojiki and Nihongi include the motif of rice within both names and attributes of figures in the lineage from Amaterasu to the first emperor Jimmu, thus indicating how closely rice cultivation was linked to kingship. For example, Amaterasu cultivates rice in her sacred paddies on the Plain of High Heaven. And the names of her child Oshihomimi and his younger brother Amenohohi --- who was sent on the first mission to Izumo in preparation for the "transfer of the land"V --- both include the character ho, which means "rice ears." Oshiho means "stalwart rice ears" or "teeming rice ears," while hohi means the "spiritual power of the rice ears".

The child of Oshihomimi was Ho no Ninigi, the grandchild of Amaterasu who finally descended to Japan, and his name likewise means something akin to "luxuriantly ripening ears of rice." The place where Ho no Ninigi descended was called Takachiho-mine, or "high-thousand rice-ears peak," with the similar meaning of a place where innumerable ears of rice are piled up. Finally, the three children produced by Ho no Ninigi and Konohanasakuya-bime[Glossary: konohanasakuyahime_no_mikoto] (Kamuatakashitsu-hime), namely, Hoderi, Hosuseri, and Hoori (also called Hikohohodemi), all contain the common "ho," which originally did not mean "fire,"VI but "rice ear," with the result that their three names mean "rice-ear-shining" (hoderi), "rice-ear advancing" (hosuseri or hosusumi), and "rice-ear breaking" (hoori, from being so heavily weighted down with the ripe rice grain).

Further, the child of Hoori (Hikohohodemi) was Ugayafukiahezu[Glossary: ugayafukiaezu_no_mikoto], whose offspring were named Itsuse, Inahi, Mikenu, and Wakamikenu (also called Toyomikenu). These deities' names all contain elements related to rice and foodstuffs; for example, the se of Itsuse came from the primitive word sa which meant the spirit of the rice grain, and thus indicated "divine rice." The hi of Inahi, on the other hand, was the same hi (bi) of the word musibi, which referred to the creative power of becoming and thus indicated the rice spirit, while the mike of Mikenu meant "food," or "food offering."

Also, in the second alternate "one writing" relating the "descent of the heavenly grandchild" in the Nihon shoki,VII Amaterasu orders Amanokoyane and Futotama to "take the rice from my gardens in the Plain of High Heaven and present it to my offspring," thus indicating that the divine rice from heaven was entrusted by Amaterasu to Oshihomimi. However, since it later came about that Ho no Ninigi descended in place of Oshihomimi, it appears that in the end, rice was brought to the earthly world by Ninigi.

According to a fragmentary passage from the Hyuga no kuni fudoki[Glossary: fudoki], at the time Ho no Ninigi descended from heaven, the earth was in a condition of chaos, with "a darkened sky lacking any distinction of night and day, so that people lost their way and could not discriminate things." But Ho no Ninigi plucked a thousand stalks of rice and scattered the unhulled grain in the four directions, whereupon "the sky was brightened, and the sun and moon shone brightly," thus showing that rice and king were viewed as equivalent, both conceived as possessing the power to change darkness to light and chaos to order.

Further, the third alternate "one writing" provided by the NihongiVIII as a description of Ho no Ninigi's descent relates that Ho no Ninigi's wife Kamuatakashitsu-hime "selected a field by divination, giving it the name Sanada. From the rice of that field she brewed sweet rice wine of heaven, which she gave [him] to drink. And using the rice of the field Nunata, she prepared cooked rice which she gave him to eat." In short, sake and steamed rice were produced from the rice grain and presented as offerings to the ruler of the divine land, reflecting a concept similar to that evident in the previous passage.

As the embodiment of the rice grain, Ho no Ninigi thus represented not only the ancestor of the imperial family, but also the spirit of rice and grains presented from heaven to the world of human beings. In this context, it should be noted that the rice cultures around Southeast Asia frequently treat rice as a sacred grain unique in status compared to other agricultural products. Many of those cultures also personify the spirit of the rice as a goddess, calling it "grain mother," or "mother of the rice."6

The divine genealogy from Amaterasu to Jimmu is intimately linked to rice, thus revealing a conceptual identification of rice with kingship. Forming the basic structural motif of the kingship myths of Kojiki and Nihongi, this linkage identifies the king (i.e., tennô) with the rice spirit, thus suggesting one factor that motivated the identification of the imperial ancestral deity Amaterasu with the goddess "rice mother."

7. Silkworm Cultivation

The silkworm was one of the culturally valuable products produced from the corpse of a goddess and then presented to Amaterasu. This fact indicates that silk was viewed as a sacred product originating in the heavenly world. The myth states that Amaterasu was an instructress in the art of taking thread from the silkworm, and also that she began weaving that silk thread on her loom. It further relates that the wife of Amaterasu's child Oshihomimi (and thus the mother to Ho no Ninigi) was the daughter of Takamimusubi, and possessed the alternate name Yorozuhata Akizushi-hime[Glossary: yorozuhata_toyoakitsushihime_no_mikoto] or Takuhata chiji-hime, names which mean "many-weaving" or "much cloth."

Finally, the sixth alternate version of the episode related by Nihon shokiIX relates that following his descent, Ho no Ninigi encountered Konohana sakuya-bime and her elder sister Ihanaga-hime, two daughters who are described as "the maidens who have built an eight-fathom palace on the highest crest of the waves and tend the looms with jingling wrist jewels." This passage thus once again demonstrates the deep relationship between Amaterasu, silkworms, silk cloth and weaving.

In actual practice, weaving was prototypically woman's work, and in the myths it is placed under the jurisdiction of Amaterasu. The fact that this most important of women's roles and economically valuable of activities was placed under the direction of a "masculine" goddess can be interpreted as an indication of men's determination not to grant women this area of independence, and to keep all such activities under the control of men.

As Amaterasu was weaving divine garments in her sacred hall, Susanoo broke open the roof and threw in a backwards-flayed colt. But the Kojiki and Nihongi are not entirely in agreement regarding the direct results of this profane behavior. According to the Kojiki, Amaterasu's servant, the heavenly weaving maiden, was surprized and stabbed herself in the genitals with the loom's shuttle, thus dying. According to the main text of the Nihon shoki, Amaterasu injured herself with the shuttle; and according to an alternate version related by the Nihon shoki,X Wakahirume[Glossary: wakahirume] fell from the loom, wounded herself with the shuttle, and died. In order to maintain the purity situated at the opposite pole from death, Amaterasu is not depicted as dying herself, but characters playing the role of what might be called her spiritual offshoot or "scion," namely, the heavenly weaving maiden and Wakahirume, do die as a result of this incident. Within the myths relating the genesis of the silkworm and of the divine garments woven from that silk, two important elements are the death of a goddess (Ôgetsu-hime, Ukemochi, the heavenly weaving maiden, or Wakahirume) and the death of a horse. The importance of these two deaths derives from the fact that both are also elements found in the "tale of the marriage of the horse and the girl."

The best-known source for the "tale of the marriage of the horse and the girl" is the story of the origin of the o-shirasama[Glossary: oshirasama] (no. 69) found in Yanagita Kunio's Tôno monogatari as related to Yanagita by Sasaki Kizen of the town of Tôno in Iwate Prefecture. But a tale demonstrating even greater resemblances to the myth is the story "oshirakami,"XI included as story number 115 in Kikimimi sôshi [The listening ear story book, 1931] published by Sasaki himself. In brief, the story relates that "the horse and maid were of the same mind and love, and at last became united as husband and wife. When the horse's owner learned the awful truth, he killed the horse by hanging it from a mulberry tree. But when he skinned it, the hide wrapped itself around the young woman and flew away. The young woman appeared in a dream and said she had become a horse-headed silkworm, and that her parents should feed it mulberry leaves to raise it, then sell the silk to live on. And in this way, the horse and the young woman became the oshirasama who is the god of silkworms."7

Here too, the two elements --- death of a woman and death of a horse --- are depicted within the context of the origin of silkworms and sericulture. It goes without saying that the model for the legend of the marriage of the maid and the horse, and the origin of sericulture goes back to the fourteenth volume of the Soushenji (Jp. Sôshinki compiled by Gan Pao (Jp. Kan Pô) in the fourth-century state of Chin. The story relates that a certain woman's husband went away to war as a general and did not return. In her grief, the woman murmured to herself that she would even give her daughter as bride to anyone who could bring her husband back. With that, the horse being raised by the family left the home, later returning with the woman's husband. The couple killed the horse and skinned it, leaving the hide to dry. But when the young daughter carelessly approached the drying hide, the hide wrapped itself around the girl and flew off. The horse's hide came to light on a mountain top, where it disappeared, while the girl alighted in a mulberry tree and was transformed into a silkworm. This was the beginning of silkworm cultivation, and people called this girl the "horse maid," revering her as the silkworm god.8

In China, the sinuous body of the silkworm was compared to that of a woman, while the head was thought to resemble that of a horse, a comparison which had already been established in the Warring States period (4th-3rd C., B.C.E.); Hsun Tzu's ode to the silkworm suggests that its body resembled that of a woman, and it's head that of a horse. The phenomenon of a silkworm's producing silk thread and weaving a cocoon around itself can be understood in the legend as the motif of the horse's hide wrapping itself around the girl, who was then transformed into the silkworm.

When interpreted in this way, the myth suggests the following three points: (1) the Kojiki and Nihongi's story of the generation of silkworms from the corpse of a goddess achieves the full form of the myth of the origin of sericulture only when it is combined with the separate episode of Amaterasu and Susanoo in the former's sacred weaving hall; (2) the origin of that myth goes back to the fourth-century Chinese myth of the origin of sericulture; (3) what Susanoo threw into the weaving hall was not the body of the horse, but its skinned hide.9

The Kojiki and Nihongi's myth of the origin of sericulture, however, omits the motif of the mulberry tree, which is prominent in both the myths of the origin of the oshirasama and the aforementioned Chinese legend. Since mulberry leaves are crucial for the raising of silkworms, it would seem only natural that they appear in any legend relating the origins of sericulture, but they are strangely absent from the versions found in the Kojiki and Nihongi.

This lack of the mulberry tree may be compensated for, however, by the presence of the sun. For example, in the early Chinese work Shanhaijing (Jp. Sengaikyô), the chapter called Dahuangdong-jinging (Jp. Daikôtô-kyô) includes a description stating that "above the valley of steam is a mulberry tree, and when one sun reaches it, another sun comes out from it." This legend thus reflects an ancient belief in the mulberry as a sacred tree in which the sun resided.

In addition, in China, the "heavenly horse" was an animal on which the sun rode, making it a symbol for the sun itself.10 Several wall paintings from tombs of the Han period likewise portray a horse standing beside a fruit-bearing mulberry tree.11 In short, both the horse and the mulberry tree were thought to be closely related to the sun, so that the three can be thought of as forming a single set, horse --- mulberry tree --- sun.

Considered in this way, one can interpret the mulberry tree and sun in a relationship of mutual complementarity; by mentioning one, implicit reference was made to the other. As a result, while the sun does not appear in the legend of the origin of the oshirasama or the Chinese legend of sericulture, the central role played by the "sun goddess" Amaterasu in the Kojiki and Nihongi's sericulture myth makes it unnecessary for the mulberry to appear there.

Further, the weaving of silk was apparently linked to sunlight and moonlight in the Korean peninsula as well.

For example, in the Korean historical work known in Japan as Sangoku iji [Former events of the three countries], the thirteenth-century monk Ichinen recorded the legend of En'o and Saio of the land of Silla. According to the legend, this married couple came to Japan, whereupon the light of the sun and moon disappeared from their home country. In Silla, the government minister in charge of climatic phenomena declared that the darkness resulted due to the loss of the spiritual essence of the sun and moon, with the result that the king of Silla sent a messenger to Japan in search of the couple. When he was found, En'o presented the messenger with fine silk cloth woven by his wife Saio, and told the messenger that all would be restored to normal if the cloth were made an offering to Heaven. When the messenger returned to Silla, the cloth was offered in worship, and the sun and moon returned, with the result that the cloth was thereafter considered a national treasure and stored carefully in the royal warehouses, while the place where the offering had been made was called the province of "greeting-sun" or "sun-rise" 12

8. Rice and Silk

As we have seen thusfar, the myths of the Kojiki and Nihongi portray the high goddess Amaterasu as the origin both of rice and of the silk cloth woven from the cocoons of the silkworm; this was likely because these two items were the most highly valued among all food and clothing products. The emperors said to be descendants of Amaterasu observed the annual first-fruits rituals called Niinamesai[Glossary: niinamesai], as well as the enthronement ceremonies of Daijôsai[Glossary: daijosai], which were an expanded form of the Niiname rites. These were basically festivals of rice. As part of the Daijôsai, a divine garment[Glossary: kanmiso] woven from raw white silk was placed on the divine seat, while silk was also placed in the bamboo baskets located to either side of the seat. The ceremonial clothes[Glossary: saifuku] worn by the emperor himself were likewise made of silk. The importance of rice and woven silk in the imperial rites thus coincides with the image of that earlier cultivator of rice and weaver of silk, the imperial ancestral deity Amaterasu.

As a practical issue, rice and woven silk played the role of currency in ancient Japan. The earliest minted coins in Japan were the eighth-century coins called Wadô Kaichin, and minting of other coins in the series known as the kôchô jûnisen continued until around the mid-tenth century. But these coins were strongly influenced by imitation of Chinese practice. They were meant to impress both domestic and foreign audiences with the authority of the emperor as the ruler in charge of issuing and managing such currency. In fact, however, the circulation of currency was poor, and limited almost exclusively to the capital provinces. As the emperor's direct power waned from the tenth century on, the minting of currency also ceased. While Japan reached the stage of a genuine currency economy from the latter part of the thirteenth into the fourteenth centuries, no currency backed by imperial authority was minted domestically. Instead, the metallic currency that circulated in Japan was imported to Japan from China.

Before Japan entered the period of a genuine currency economy, the role of currency was played by rice and silk. For example, it is now known that rice and silk were used as mediums for the sale and purchase of land until the mid-twelfth century.13 In short, we should note that the myths claim that Amaterasu and the emperors are responsible for the generation of rice and silk, products which formed both standards for measuring value and symbols of wealth within ancient Japanese society. The Amaterasu mythos incorporates the concept that the emperors are the sources of wealth, or the dispensers of wealth, and thus they naturally demonstrate a strong aversion to any disorder concerning rice and silk.

9. The Sun

The Japanese emperor was called variously Amatsuhitsugi ["heavenly sun-heir"] (Nihon shoki, Emperor Ingyô); Sumera Mikoto no Hitsugi" ("imperial sun-heir") [intro-duction to Kojiki]; and simply Hitsugi ["sun-heir"] (Nihon shoki, Empresses Kôgyoku and Jitô XII), all names indicating that he or she was the descendant of the sun. As indicated by the following examples as well, the emperor's rule was frequently described by means of metaphors involving light: "I humbly pray that your majesty respond reverently to the divine spirits of heaven and earth, promulgating broadly the imperial mandate, and thus casting light upon Japan. . ." (Emperor Buretsu, in Nihon shokiXIII); "I beg you ministers to have him rise quickly and assume the imperial dignity, and illuminate the land" (Emperor Kinmei, in Nihon shokiXIV); "may you perpetuate the imperial succession, and shed light on the manifold subjects of the realms" (Emperor Jomei, in Nihon shokiXV).

On the other hand, a period of funerary mourning was called "complete darkness" (ryôan ), and when Shôtoku Taishi[Glossary: shotoku_taishi] died, people said that "the sun and moon have lost their brilliance, and heaven and earth have fallen" (Emperor Suiko in Nihon shokiXVI). In sum, within the mythos of the Kojiki and Nihongi, kingship and the light of sun were viewed as equivalents.

But there is also much evidence that sun deities other than Amaterasu were worshiped. In the section of the Engishiki[Glossary: engi_shiki] known as the "directory of names of kami" (Jinmyôchô), shrines with names like "Amateru-mitama Jinja" and dedicated to a variety of sun-deity were found throughout the capital region. Some commentators also hold the view that at the stage before Amaterasu became the imperial ancestral deity, the male solar deity Takamimusubi had that role, but that for a variety of reasons, he passed that status to the goddess Amaterasu.

Much research has already been done on the reasons for the substituion of a female solar goddess for male solar deity in the supreme position of imperial ancestral deity, and there should be no need to repeat a discussion of that research here.14 The focus of this paper is on analyzing what kind of ideological message the Kojiki and Nihongi impressed on Amaterasu, and it is from that perspective that I have been considering the attribution to Amaterasu of such traits as imperial ancestral deity, virgin mother, rice and silkworms, as well as her characteristics as a solar deity. Now, however, the issue I want to consider in a somewhat supplementary way is one which has not been previously debated, namely, if the solar deity changed in status from a male deity to a female goddess, was any resistance expressed to that change?

Ethnological studies of the myth of Amaterasu's hiding away in the Rock Cave of Heaven have frequently taken the form of a comparison with other similar myths of the disappearance and reappearance of the sun, and such research has confirmed the existence of such myths around the Pacific-rim region. Among those, the myths originating in the agricultural cultures of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and other parts of South Asia are viewed as belonging to the same mythic lineage as the Japanese tale of the rock cave.15 But in many of these other mythic examples, the sun is viewed either as a mere heavenly body, or else deified, but not clearly identified as male or female. Many ethnic groups possess no unified perspective regarding the issue of whether the sun is a deity or not, of whether it is a male deity or female, or else they express no apparent interest in the issue itself, and it is difficult to make an accurate assessment of the distribution of female solar deities, but as shown by the following examples, the concept of a female solar deity can at least be recognized extending from northeast Asia into Siberia.16 And it would seem difficult to believe that the ancient Japanese likewise possessed a firm attitude of limiting the solar deity to a male alone and of rejecting the concept of a solar goddess:

(1) Among the Ainu, with the exception of the great male deity of heaven, the sun goddess is the only one of the heavenly deities who is offered worship. All the other deities are merely figures appearing in the mythos.

(2) Most Turkish ethnic groups consider the sun to be a goddess (the mother sun), and the moon to be male (father moon, or the moon uncle).

(3) Among the Yukagir of northeastern Siberia, the sun is rather vaguely personalized and offered prayers as "mother sun." She is considered to abhor evil and deliver punishment.

(4) The Samoyed people along the Yenisei river region call the sun the "mother of the world," and they state that the sun was born from the right eye of the creater god Num.

(5) The Cheremis of northern Europe and Russia know of a sun goddess which they call "mother sun."

Examples such as these demonstrate the sun perceived as a female, a "mother," although the trait of motherhood should probably not be overemphasized, since the use of kinship terms to express respect for heavenly bodies superior to and longer-lived than humans is a characteristic of many socieites. But even so, when a strong need existed to make the sun deity a female as the result of reasons like those I have adduced, it appears that a supreme sun goddess could be accepted without a great deal of resistance.

10. Conclusion: Amaterasu and Athena

In conclusion, I want to compare the imperial ancestral deity Amaterasu with Athena, tutelary deity[Glossary: chinju] of the ancient city-state of Athens, and consider the significance of the following shared traits:

(1) Just as Amaterasu was produced from her father Izanagi, Athena was produced from the forehead of her father Zeus. (Apollodorus 1.3.6). With respect to this point, the drama Eumenides (The Furies) by the Greek poet Aeschylus portrays Athena describing herself in the words, "Not so much as nursed in the darkness of the womb" (line 665) and "Mother have I none that gave me birth, and in all things, save wedlock, I am for the male with all my soul, and am entirely on the father's side" (lines 735-7).XVII

(2) By exchanging "essences" (monozane) as part of her pledge with Susanoo, Amaterasu became a mother while remaining a virgin untouched by direct sexual contact. In the same way, Athena remained a virgin while giving birth to a future king: filled with lust, Hephaestus attempted to violate Athena, but his advances were rebuked, and his seminal fluid fell upon the goddess's leg. The goddess was enraged and wiped up the fallen semen with a piece of sheep's wool, throwing it upon the ground. The earth thus became pregnant and produced the male child who was raised by Athena as her own. When he became an adult, Erichthonius became king of Athens (Apollodorus 3.14.6).

(3) Athena became the tutelary deity of the city-state of Athens --- which came to bear her name --- as the result of a contest: originally, the gods themselves chose the cities from which they would receive worship, but Poseidon and Athena argued over Athens. The two deities presented gifts to the city as a means of deciding the issue of which of the two would receive worship from Athens. The sea god Poseidon made a spring of salt water appear, while Athena presented an olive tree, so the city became Athena's and took on her name (Apollodorus 3.14.1).

Athena thus became known to the Greeks as the benefactor who had provided the olive, an important foodstuff, another way in which she corresponds to Amaterasu, who was responsible for furnishing rice to the world through Ho no Ninigi. Further, the antagonists of the respective goddesses in their competition for chief deity were Poseidon and Susanoo, gods who shared numerous traits in common, including their identity as deities of the sea, characteristics as fearsome destroyers, and their connections to horses and the underworld.17 As part of the process whereby the two virgin goddesses establish order, the two myths deliberately describe the goddesses juxtaposed against male deities who possess traits of disorderliness and chaos. And insofar as salt water and storms are natural elements harmful to olives and rice, it is to be expected that the two males resemble each other in their depiction as gods in conflict with the goddesses.

(4) Athena is described as the goddess who taught weaving to women, and she is depicted as weaving herself,18 a trait she also holds in common with Amaterasu.

Just as the myths of the Kojiki and Nihongi situate Amaterasu as imperial ancestral deity, the myth of Athens depicts Athena as the tutelary goddess of the city-state and the ancestral deity of its male citizens. Both myths form integrated systems designed to legitimate lineage, ruling relationships, and relations between men and women. These myths thus not only provide the basis for political arrangements, but also for the superior place of men in male-female relations. If that common social purpose were not present with the political, it is unlikely that the two myths would show such a striking degree of congruity. It was groups of men seeking power who were responsible for using de-feminization to produce the "ideal type" represented by the virgin goddess. That virgin goddess, in turn, became a symbol of absolute transcendence mutually contradictory to --- and thus estranged from --- real womanhood, existing at the core of a mythic system created by males, and serving to legitimate their aims.


1. I have borrowed this expression from the eulogy to Mary in the Paschale Carmen by the fifth-century Christian poet Caelius Sedulius: "She differed from the first mother of us all, and from all mothers thereafter. She, alone among women, was pleasing to the Lord" (Nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem: Sola sine exemplo placuisti femina Christo), Paschale Carmen II, 68-69.

2. Some works providing a general introduction to ethnological research on Japanese myth, and the academic appraisal of those interpretations include Ôbayashi Taryô, "Matsumura shinwagaku no tenkai" [The development of Matsumura's theory of myth], Bungaku, 39 (November, 1981); Ushijima Iwao, "Matsumoto Nobuhiro, Mishina Shôei, Oka Masao ni okeru Nihon shinwa kenkyû" [The study of Japanese myth by Matsumoto Nobuhiro, Mishina Shôei, and Oka Masao]; Nakamura Setsu, "Sengo ni okeru Nihon shinwa kenkyû no dôkô [Trends in the postwar study of Japanese myth]; and Ôbayashi Taryô, "Kaisetsu" [Commentary]; the preceding three works are found in Kokubungaku, kaishaku to kanshô: 460, Nihon shinwa no sekai, (Shibundô, January, 1972); Takagi Toshio, Zôho Nihon shinwa densetsu no kenkyû No. 1 [Research on Japanese myth and legend, revised edition, No. 1], Ôbayashi Taryô, ed, Tôyô bunko 241 (Heibonsha, 1973); Ueshima Keiji , "Matsumura Takeo-ron" [On Matsumura Takeo] Kikan Yanagita Kunio kenkyû No. 8 (April, 1975); Tamura Katsumi, "`Nihon shinwa no kigen'shi", Nihon shinwa bunken shiryô , Gekkan gengo 5:1 (1976); Ôbayashi Taryô, "Nihon minzoku kigen-ron to Oka Masao gakusetsu" [The debate over the origin of the Japanese people, and the theories of Oka Masao], in Oka Masao, Ijin sono-ta (Gensôsha, 1979); Kônoshi Takamitsu, "Nihon shinwa kenkyû bunken annai" [An introduction to research on Japanese myth], in Inaoka Kôji, ed., Nihon shinwa hikkei [Essential manual of Japanese myth], Bekkan Kokubungaku No. 16 (Gakutôsha, October, 1982).

3. Examples of the results of structural analysis of would include Ôbayashi Taryô, Nihon shinwa no kôzô [The structure of Japanese myth] (Kôbundô, 1979); Kitazawa Masakuni, Ten to umi kara no shishin [Missives from the sky and sea] (Asahi Shuppansha, 1981), Ôbayashi Taryô, Higashi Ajia no ôken shinwa [East Asian myths of kingship] (Kôbundô, 1984); Yoshida Atsuhiko, Nihon shinwa no tokushoku [Features of Japanese myth] (Seidosha, 1985); Macé François, Kojiki shinwa no kôzô [The structure of myth in the Kojiki] (Chûô Kôronsha, 1986). For more details, see my "Nihon shinwa: kôzô to shinsô" [Japanese myth: structure and deep structure], Yûzankaku Shuppan,, ed., Kodaishi kenkyû no saizensen [The latest research in ancient history] Dai-san Bunka-hen [1] (Yûzankaku, 1987).

4. In writing this paper, I availed myself of viewpoints from the following works: (1) With regard to the concept of the virgin mother goddess and the comparison of Amaterasu and Athena, see "Shojo boshin no shin(wa)gaku" [The myth(e)ology of the virgin mother], Wakimoto Tsuneya and Yanagawa Keiichi, eds., Gendai shûkyôgaku 4: Ken'i no kôzô to hakai (Tôkyô Daigaku Shuppankai, 1992); (2) with regard to the way in which the linkage of rice cultivation and kingship demands a supreme goddess, see "Amaterasu ômikami to ôken" [Amaterasu ômikami and kingship], Bekkan rekishi dokuhon: Tennô to Nihon o kigen kara kangaeru (Shin-Jinbutsu Ôraisha , 1993); (3) with regard to sericulture myths and Amaterasu, see "Kodai to kataru" [Ancient tales] 387-392, Sankei shinbun , Nara Edition, (October-November, 1993).

5. With regard to the feminist analysis of myth, I have benefited much from the following works: Peggy Reeves Sanday, Female Power and Male Dominance: On the Origins of Sexual Inequality (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Nicole Loraux, Les enfants d'Athéna (Editions La Decouverte, 1984); Edouin Aadonaa et al. (Yamazaki Kaoru, trans.), Otoko ga bunka de, onna wa shizenka? [Are men culture and women nature?] (Shôbunsha, 1987) [This volume is a compilation of essays translated into Japanese, mostly dealing with feminism and nature; the volume's title is taken from the included essay, "Homme-Culture et Femme-Nature?" by Nicole-Claude Mathieu, originally published in L'Homme 13:3 (1973)]; Eva C. Keuls, (Nakatsukasa Tetsuro, et al., trans.), Fuarosu no ôkoku (Iwanami Shoten, 1989) [originally published as Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Harper & Row, 1985)].

6. Mishina Shôei, Kodai saisei to kokurei shinkô [Ancient ritual state and religion of the grain-spirit], Mishina Shôei Ronbun-shû , v. 3 (Heibonsha, 1973); Ayabe Tsuneo, "Tai no kokuborei to sono girei" [The Thai mother-spirit of the grain, and its rituals], in Niiname Kenkyûkai, ed., Niiname no kenkyû 2: Ine to saigi (Gakuseisha, 1978).

7. Yanagita Kunio, Tôno monogatari [Tales of Tono]. Teihon Yanagita Kunio-shû [The collected works of Yanagita Kunio, standard edition], vol. 4 (Chikuma Shobô, 1968); Sasaki Kizen, Kikimimi sôshi [The listening ear story book] (Chikuma Shobô, 1964).

8. See story no. 350 "Uma no koi" [The horse lover], in fascicle 14 of Gan Pao, Sôshinki (trans, Takeda Akira). Tôyô bunko 10 (Heibonsha, 1964). Also see Konno Ensuke, Bajô kon'in-dan [The tale of the girl who married the horse] (Iwasaki Bijutsusha, 1956); Itô Seiji, Nihon shinwa to Chûgoku shinwa [Myths of Japan and China] (Gakuseisha, 1979).

9. Nelly Naumann, (Hieda Yôichirô and Tajiri Mariko, trans), "Sakahagi: Ama no buchikoma o sakasa ni hagu koto," in Nagekiisachiru kami: Susanoo [The wailing deity Susanoo] (Gensôsha, 1989) [ originally published as "Sakahagi: The `Reverse Flaying' of the Heavenly Piebald Colt," Asian Folklore Studies XLI (1982)].

10. Itô Seiji, Nihon shinwa to Chûgoku shinwa, 104.

11. Polychrome tomb wall illustrations depicting a horse and mulberry tree can be seen in the collection of Tenri Library. They are reproduced in Naumann, Nagekiisachiru kami: Susanoo, Figure 13-b on page 124.

12. Ichinen (Kim Shiyu, trans.), Kan'yaku Sankoku iji (Rokkô Shuppan, 1980).

13. Amino Yoshihiko, Nihon no rekishi o yominaosu [Re-reading Japanese history] (Chikuma Shobô, 1991), particularly chapter 2, "Kahei to shôgyô, Kin'yû"[Currency, industry, and finance].

14. With regard to the shift from a male to female solar deity, see Okada Seiji, Kodai ôken no saishi to shinwa(Hanawa Shobô, 1970), Matsumae Takeshi, Nihon shinwa to kodai seikatsu[Japanese myths and everyday life in ancient times] (Yûseidô, 1970); Mishina Shôei, Kenkoku shinwa no shomondai[Issues regarding the Japanese nation-founding myths]. Mishina Shôei Ronbun-shû, v. 2 (Heibonsha, 1971); Matsumae Takeshi, Kodai denshô to kyûtei saishi [Ancient legends and court rituals] (Hanawa Shobô, 1974); and Okada Seiji, Kodai saishi no shiteki kenkyû [Historical research in ancient rituals] (Hanawa Shobô, 1972).

15. Regarding the Pacific-rim distribution of myths depicting the disappearance and reappearance of the sun, see Matsumoto Nobuhiro, "Warai no saigi to shinwa" [Laughing rituals and myth], Nihon shinwa no kenkyû (Heibonsha, 1971); Ishida Eiichirô, "Kakusareta taiyô: Taiheiyô o meguru Ama no Iwado shinwa" [The hidden sun: myths of the rock cave of heaven in the Pacific region] Ishida Eiichirô zenshû 6: Momotaro no haha (Chikuma Shobô, 1971); and Ôbayashi Taryô, Nihon shinwa no kigen [The origin of Japanese mythos] (Tokuma Bunko, 1990).

16. Pierre Lévêque, Colère, sexe, rire: le Japon des mythes anciens (Les Belles Lettres), p.66-67.

17. Kobayashi Taichirô, "Poseidon to Susanoo no mikoto: hikaku shinwagaku no ichi-hôhô no kokoromi" [Poseidon and Susanoo no mikoto: toward a comparative mythology], in Itô Seiji and Ôbayashi Taryô, eds., Nihon shinwa kenkyû 2: Kuniumi shinwa, Takamahara shinwa (Gakuseisha, 1977).

18. See Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite (No. 5, lines 14-15); Odyssey 7.110; Ovid, Metamorphoses 6.1-140; Iliad 14.178. The story of the weaving competition between Athena and Arachne, is transmitted by the Roman poet Ovid, who lived from the first century B.C.E to the first century C.E., but the myth was known already in the sixth century B.C.E., based on evidence from urns unearthed in Corinth. See E. J. W. Barder, Prehistoric Textiles (Princeton University Press, 1991), Fig. 3.24, p.106.

Translator's Notes

I. Originally published as "`Josei no naka de tada hitori': Amaterasu shingaku seisei no hikaku shinwagaku-teki kôsatsu" in Kojiki Gakkai, ed., Kojiki no sekai: v. 1. Kojiki kenkyû taikei , v. 11. Tokyo. Takashina Shoten, 1996.

II. Adapted from W.G. Aston, Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697 (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1896, 1956), I:21.

III. Adapted from Aston, I:32-33.

IV. "Land of plentiful reed plains and of thousand-autumn, long-five-hundred-autumn luxuriant rice ears" and "fifteen-hundred-autumn luxuriant rice-ear land." See Donald L. Philippi, Kojiki (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1968), 120, and Aston, I:77.

V. Referring to the mythic episode called kuniyuzuri, the turning over of control of the land of Japan to the first Yamato clan emperors. See Aston, I:80.

VI. The three deities were produced when Sakuyabime set fire to her partuition hut; as a result, it is typically thought that the ho of the names meant "fire." See Philippi, Kojiki, 144-147.

VII. See Aston, I:83.

VIII. See Aston, I:86.

IX. See Aston, I:90-91.

X. See Aston, I:45.

XI. The oshirasama is a folk-religious implement made from a wood stick about 30 cm. long, usually carved with a human or horse's face at one end, covered in layers of cloths, and frequently used within shamanistic rites.

XII. Found in episodes relating events of the 14th day of the 12th month of the 1st year of Empress Kôgyoku, and the 11th day of the 11th month of the second year of Empress Jitô. --- Author.

XIII. Cf. Aston, I:404.

XIV. Cf. Aston, II: 37.

XV. Cf. Aston, II: 164.

XVI. Cf. Aston, II: 148.

XVII. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, ed., Herbert Weir Smith, trans., Aeschylus v. 2 (Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides, Fragments). The Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press), 335-337, 343-345. The speaker of the first lines is Apollo, describing Athena.

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