Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Heaven (Chapters 4) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

The Birth and Accession of Amateru

Kunitokotachi, the deity who first opened up the land in days of old, had eight sons. They were known collectively as the Kunisatsuchi, and had the initial syllables To, Ho, Ka, Mi, Ye, Hi, Ta, and Me as their given names. One of them, To-no-Kunisatsuchi, descended from the heavenly realm to the Land of Hotsuma, bringing with him the seeds of edible trees and plants. The Land of Hotsuma is the modern Tokai and Kanto region, with its centre at Mount Harami (today's Mount Fuji). It was also called Tokudaru, in reference to the deity To's descent there from the heavens.

At that time, the lands far to the east were called Hitakami. They were so called in reference to the sun as it rose high over the ocean. To-no-Kunisatsuchi wrought a pact with the Takamimusubi, rulers of this region, to bring peaceful union to the eastern lands. He planted flowers of the eternal tachibana (orange) tree on Mount Harami and lauded the mountain with the title "Kaguyama" (Fragrant Mountain).

As time went on (measured by the successive replanting of the sacred masakaki tree, said to wither after 60,000 years), the Land of Hitakami came to be ruled by the fifth Takamimusubi, whose familiar name was Tamakine.
Tamakine invoked the 49 deities who resided at the Palace of Sakokushiro in Takamagahara (the Heavenly Realm), thereby creating an earthly Takamagahara in this Land of Hitakami.
The 49 deities were: Amemiwoya, Deity of the Beginning and End (the "Great Parent Deity of the Heavens" residing in the centre), followed by the eight Yamoto deities of the First Light (To-Ho-Ka-Mi-Ye-Hi-Ta-Me), then the eight Anami deities (A-I-Hu-He-Mo-Wo-Su-Si), and 32 others. Once Tamakine had invoked and revered these 49 deities, the people lived in affluence and plenty, and peace reigned long in the land.
The people revered Tamakine with the name of Toyoke, the "Receiver of Plenty".

Toyoke, also known as "Lord of the East", succeeded to the Amenaru-Michi or Way of Heaven set down by Kunitokotachi. He also observed the feast of Ohoname by which the gods were venerated.
The masakaki tree, replanted every 60,000 years, was in its 21st manifestation, and the year was 1,207,520. The descendants of the heavenly deities on earth now numbered some 1,500. But, on reflection, there was not one of them who truly understood the troubles and hardships of the ordinary people, nor any who could use the Amenaru-Michi to ease their lamenting.
Toyoke, daily vexed that the Way could disappear altogether if this remained unchanged, gathered up his resolve and climbed to the top of Mount Harami, the highest mountain in the land. There he cast his eye over the surrounding lands. He saw that the people of the eight isles of Yashima had continued to multiply and were crawling and roaming around with much clamour. It was no wonder that they did not even learn the Way of Man. Toyoke returned to his palace in Hitakami bemoaning this fact. His daughter Isako (later Isanami), sensing her father's vexation only too keenly, suggested a solution: a Heavenly Heir. Toyoke immediately conducted divination using the Futomani, and, as a result, proceeded to Nakakuni (now the Nara area). There, he built a Shrine of Succession on Mount Itori in Tsukikatsuragi, and continued to pray for the birth of a successor.

He set up eight-coloured hanging banners at the eight extremities of the Shrine of Succession. He offered up prayers to Amemiwoya, the Great Deity of the Universe, and purified himself repeatedly. At last, after he had repeated his vows 8,000 times, the awful majesty of the gods became manifest, and he recognized the appearance of the divine spirit.
Toyoke knew for sure that, thanks to protection by the spirits of sun and moon emanating from the eyes of Amemiwoya as well as by the Amoto and thirty-two other deities, a successor would surely be delivered.

At around this time, Isanagi and Isanami went to the top of Mount Harami and greeted the sun rising in the east with much adulation every day. One day, they voiced their mutual apprehension, confiding in each other frankly. "We two have surveyed this land and worked to rebuild it", they said. "We have brought the people affluence and created peace under our rule. Nevertheless, though blessed with a daughter, we have no male heir to continue the rule of this land. This is not good for the future."

They went to Lake Konoshiro at the summit of Mount Harami. In the water of the lake, they washed the left eye and prayed to the spirit of the sun; they washed the right eye and prayed to the spirit of the moon. Isanagi then produced a pair of true clear mirrors that had been made and presented to him by Shikoridome. Likening them to the sun and moon, he lifted them up and beseeched the deity to appear. They continued to pray for blessings from heaven as they conducted a procession around the eight peaks of Mount Harami. Then, when exactly a thousand days had passed, they felt a mystic presence pass into their bodies. At the same time, the white-flowered hagi bush became blushed with pink.
One day, Isanagi enquired after Isanami's condition. She replied:
"Three days have passed since my menstruation ended. My body is now clean and I await the deity of the sun." Isanagi smiled. Then they joined in worship of the morning sun. And the circle of the sun suddenly descended and fell before them. Instinctively, they embraced the spirit of the sun and crossed over into the realm of ecstasy. When they at last awoke from their trance, their hearts were still softened and they returned to their palace in contentment.

Ohoyamazumi, awaiting their return with some trepidation, immediately offered them a drink of sasamiki, a type of rice wine. Now Isanagi asked his spouse, "Do you know the meaning of tokomiki?" She replied:
"Yes, Kotosakanowo told me how it is made. The custom is for the female first to drink the tokomiki, and then to offer it to the male. This means that, when a man and woman have conjugal relations, the woman first silently observes the man's deportment and appearance, before entering the conjugal bed and having intercourse. And if they imbibe each other's fluids their inhibitions will break down even more, and the seed of the child will reside in the inner chamber of the womb. This is the way of totsugi (matrimony), and the tokomiki that prepares the way for the child is also the teaching of the birth of countries."
The two then joined in intercourse and conceived in accordance with this teaching. But ten months passed, and nothing happened. Years passed, and the hearts of the two became sorely troubled. But then, at last, in the 96th month, Isanami entered her labour, and the deity Amateru was born.

He was born as the sun rose on the first day of the year kishiye, in the 125th branch of the 21st suzu. He was born in the shape of an egg: for when he emerged from the womb, he was still covered in an egg-like membrane. This was a source of wonderment and consternation to all around.
The elderly noble Yamazumi was so greatly moved by the prince's birth that he recited this poem of felicitation:
"Mube naruya, yuki no yoroshi mo, miyotsugi mo, yoyo no saiwai hirakeri" ('Tis true to say: a good past life, and a royal heir; joy for generations now to commence). He sang this out thrice in a sonorous voice. And so the celebrations went on deep into the night, in sheer joy for the bright future now awaiting the land.
Some in attendance were concerned about the prince's egg-like appearance. Yamazumi told them:
"The Lord Toyoke teaches thus. We prayed so hard that our new sovereign should be protected from the evil of the wicked Isora. That is why, when he was born, he was protected by the membrane. This is an auspicious sign."
Then, saying "Open up, you doors of heaven!" he cut the membrane with a knife made of yew wood, and brought the baby out. And as the child emerged, the morning sun lit up both heaven and earth. Isanami's younger sister Shirayama gave the baby his first bath. Isanagi, Isanami, the ministers and all the people were overcome with joy beyond compare. Their rejoicing cries of "Yorotoshi, yorotoshi!" (Long may he reign!) reverberated over the land in waves.
A certain Natsume now offered up swaddling clothes woven from silk that had been spun from mulberry cocoons by Akahiko.
Owing to fatigue from her protracted pregnancy, Isanami could not produce enough milk for the baby. A nursemaid was sought far and wide, and eventually the baby was nursed by Michitsuhime, daughter of the deity Hoiyi. But there was a problem: the baby's eyes would not open. To him there was no day and night, and time stood still. The worry of his parents knew no end. It was on the fifteenth day of the seventh month that his eyes at last opened. His eyes were so sweet, and the rejoicing of the people so clamorous, that Isanami's fatigue completely fell away.
The heavenly sign of hail falling on the eight peaks of Mount Harami, covered in trails of white clouds, and echoing into the extremities of all the lands reached by the sun, was reproduced on cloth banners called yatoyohata. They were put up at the eight extremities of a great throne, and there the baby acceded to the sovereignty.

The yew knife from Mount Kurai, used to open the membrane that covered Amateru when he was born, was taken as a sign of divine descent from that day on.

When the baby's aunt Shirayama presented clothing she had woven in her home province of Koyene, the baby's crying sounded like "Ana ureshi" ("What joy!"). These were taken to be his first words. The assembled nobles, hearing this, now urged the princess to ask the child his name. Shirayama did so. "Uhirugi" was the baby's own reply.
On listening carefully to the child's answer, it seemed that he was pronouncing his own infant name. The meaning was U for 'Great', hi for the orb of the sun, ru for the spirit of the sun, and gi, short for kine. Kine meant the male sovereign of the male-female pair. So the baby's infant name was Uhirugi: Great Sun-Spirit Sovereign.
Isanagi and Isanami now bestowed on Princess Shirayama the epithet "Kikukiri-hime", to laud her skill in "hearing out" (kiki kiru) the baby's utterances.
But what a clever and noble first utterance for the child to make.

On the winter solstice, a Grand Rite of Accession (ohoname) was held in all pomp and dignity for the new sovereign, born with that rising sun so long ago.

The nine stars known as the Ametokotachi heavenly deities were invoked for worship at the Ayuki shrine. At their centre was Ameminakanushi ("Lord of the Centre of Heaven"), the primordial creator deity, also called Amemiwoya. The other eight were the amoto deities To-Ho-Ka-Mi-Ye-Hi-Ta-Me. Meanwhile, the eleven earthly deities known collectively as Umashiashigaihikochi were invoked for worship in the Wasuki shrine. They were the five deities who protected the cardinal directions (east-west-centre-south-north), and the six Amiyashinau deities. Having reported Amateru's accession to these nine heavenly deities and eleven earthly deities, he now officially acceded to the throne with a full mandate from heaven, earth, and people.

Isanagi and Isanami spared no effort in raising the Heavenly Prince as a fitting leader for his people. And in what seemed like no time at all, he had already grown up to be a splendid sixteen-year-old in their palace at Harami. In all that time, he had been afforded all their loving affection and richest blessings.

The boy's grandfather Tamakine (Toyoke), as we recall, had purified himself eight thousand times on Mount Katsuragi as he repeatedly made vows in his Shrine of Succession. When his prayers were finally answered, he constructed a two-wheel covered wagon from katsura wood, and with this arrived at the Harami Palace to meet the Prince.
Isanagi and Isanami rushed out at the sudden news of the visit, and were overcome with emotions of amazement and joy when they realized that Toyoke had travelled in person to meet the boy. The conversation between the two and Toyoke revolved entirely around plans for the boy's education. When they reached their conclusion, Isanami entered a garlanded yafusa palanquin with her son. Their attendant Ochitsumo joined Toyoke in a ketakoshi palanquin. Followed in turn by their retainers and servants, they now slowly moved on their way to Hitakami, Land of the Rising Sun. There, they all arrived safely at the Palace of Yamate (Sendai), the Ketatsubo government seat.
As they arrived, the person of the Prince let out a dazzling radiance that shone out in all directions. Golden flowers blossomed all around, and the sand and fish in the sea, the trees and plants on the mountains, all shone with a golden yellow.
Toyoke, moved by this sight, now bestowed on the Prince the imina or personal name of "Wakahito", the Prince of Light. Isanami and Isanagi were taken aback by their son's show of divine authority. "We are not worthy", they said, "to continue raising the Prince at our palace". They therefore entrusted their son to Toyoke's safekeeping in his Takamagahara Court, and returned to their own palace at Okitsu.

Having thus entered the Palace of Yamate in the Land of Hitakami, the Prince now threw himself into earnest study of the Amenaru-Michi ("Way of Heaven", the ways of sovereign government) at the new Amatsu Palace ("Palace of Heaven"). By his side, Furimaro served him as his learning companion.
This Furimaro was heir to the 6th Takamimusubi Yasokine. Under the name of Takakine, he would assist Amateru in government for the rest of his life.
Tamakine, the 5th Takamimusubi, came to Amatsu every day in his dual capacity as the boys' grandfather and their strict teacher. He taught them of the Amenaru-Michi, the eternal concept of Kunitokotachi and the inner mysteries of the Way of Man.

Wakahito earnestly sought the truth and pursued the mysteries of the Way of Heaven. One day, he asked his tutor a question.
"Why does my sister's imina (personal name) have 3 syllables while mine has four?", he asked. Tamakine, deeply impressed by the boy's inquisitiveness, answered:
"A boy's personal name has two syllables given by his parents and two syllables showing his lineage, making four. The heavenly sovereigns are perfect from one (hi) to ten (to), i.e. in every respect, so they are called "hito".
"But girls lack this second element. They have only the two syllables from their parents, plus one syllable showing that they will one day bear children. This can be the syllable "ko" or sometimes "o". And that is why boys and girls have different numbers of syllables in their imina names. "A person can be bestowed any number of tatahena names or official titles during his life, depending on his achievements and merits.
"But the imina personal name always remains the same. You should respect it as the only true sign of your character and noble lineage."

(from the 4th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)

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Hotsuma-Tsutae (National Archives, Tokyo)
Hotsuma-Tsutae (period translation by Waniko Yasutoshi, ca. 1779)

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