The divine light of Amateru's rule illuminated the world, the people lived in comfort and the nation was at peace. Despite his lengthy reign, the sovereign's heart remained at ease, his appearance ever more hale and youthful.
It was the year when the 24th heavenly masakaki tree withered and died, to be replaced by the 25th one. The masakaki had been planted and re-planted ever since the days of the 4th sovereign Ubichini as a means of marking time. As if awaiting this turn in the times, various critical events started to occur in the northern provinces. First, Shirahito, governor of the Land of Ne (today's Hokuriku region), then Kokumi, governor of the Land of Sahoko (San-in) neglected the public duties entrusted to them. They violated the wife of the former governor Kurakine (to whom they owed a debt of gratitude) and her daughter Kurako.
On account of their vile deeds, these two were sentenced to death. But the sentence was reduced to banishment through the intercession of Amateru's consort Mochiko and her sister Hayako. Though neither of them were of common birth, they eventually returned to public service as deputies to the new governor Kansahi. And no sooner had they been reinstated than they once again started to take bribes, embezzle taxes, destroy the stability of government and place the people under the yoke of oppression.
Spurred by their misdeeds, groups of rebels known as hatare started to gather support as violations of the law became prevalent. Soon the hideous clamour of their mischievous acts had spread a pall of terror over the land.
One after the other, express messengers arrived at the court from Mount Kokosawa, telling of the growing insurrections by these hatare.
The nobles assembled hurriedly at court and started to debate the issue heatedly. Takemikazuchi was known as the strongest among them, tall in stature and possessing a strength that bowed to none. But when he heard of the hatare uprisings, an unfathomable look of consternation appeared on his face. Putting aside all shame or reputation, he stepped forward and asked the other nobles for their guidance. Kanasaki, sitting to the left of Amateru, made it clear that the intention was to "Crush the hatare". But, in reality, none of them knew anything about the rebels or how to deal with them. As one, they turned to Amateru for advice.
So now Amateru, under the light of whose reign the nation now lived in affluence and peace, made a decree.
"I know a little about the truth of them", he said. "The hatare do not reside in the realm of heaven and are therefore not divine. They are groups of people with a perverse and devious nature. They plan to use the collapse of law and order to violate our ordinances, challenge our government and seize our land.
"The hatare have formed themselves into six bands. The leaders call themselves Shimumichi (a giant serpent), Harunahaha, Isoramichi, Kikumichi, Itsunamichi, and finally Aenomichi or Ameyeno, who uses magic to invoke thunder.
"All of these hatare have a common weakness. They may have the power to dissemble and perform witchcraft to deceive people. But their haughty pride in their trickery burns like a fire which torments them thrice daily.
"These hatare are naught to be feared. If we use our divine powers to fight them, we will push back their serpents and dragons and make them retreat. Though their arrows will not reach us, our divine arrows will surely strike them. With their true nature exposed, the hatare will no longer be able to use their magic, allowing us to round them up and capture them."
Now Futsunushi (now revered as the deity of the Katori Jingu Shrine) inquired by what specific means the hatare may be overcome. This time, Kanasaki answered on behalf of Amateru.
"I have no easy answer. But I think that if we approach them with compassion, our noble spirit will be preserved. If our innermost hearts are always pure, we will be possessed of a divine strength. And if we know the enemy's situation well, we will gain mystic powers and the peace will be preserved. All of this is bestowed on us by our sovereign's heavenly spirit. Our strategy should be one of pacification."
This proposal was one to truly gladden Amateru's heart. He gave Kanasaki the prestigious position of Master of Purification, then, with Futsunushi and Takemikazuchi as his deputies, assembled an army with which to subjugate the rebels.
To each of these three, Amateru handed kagoyumi bows and hahaya arrows, magical symbols of divine authority, and gave them a simple command: "Vanquish the hatare!".
Each of the six bands of hatare was served by eight divisions, supported by 9,000 seniors and 700,000 fighting men in all. They would form parties to break down stockades and attack noble seats all over the country. They would steal food from the people. They would stir up dark clouds, start fires to startle, throw down hails of pebbles, cast thunder and lightning to terrify the people, and shake the ground with earthquakes to destroy their humble dwellings.
Amateru listened patiently to this description of the enemy actions, before quietly leaving his palace. He first went to purify himself in the fast-flowing stream of the Hayakawa River. Having thus stilled his mind, he pondered deeply over the tactics that could be used to defeat the hatare. At length, he came to his conclusions and relayed them to his nobles. These became the magical weapons with which they could eventually conquer the six hatare rebellions with ease.
Kanasaki's Battle with the Shimumichi (1)
The band of hatare rebels known as Shimumichi really were giant pythons or serpents. Their witchcraft involved startling people by causing mountain rivers to flood. Serpents concealed by the clamour of the onrushing waters would then breathe fire at Kanasaki's men and prevent them from advancing.
Seeing this, Kanasaki made a temporary retreat to report the situation to the sovereign. Amateru's solution was to give him some arrowroot powder and bracken rope as a kind of magical weapon. Kanasaki took these back to the battle scene and distributed them to his men. They then uttered a magic charm, whereupon the witchcraft of the hatare ceased to have any effect. As the rebels attempted to flee, the sovereign forces came upon them stoutly and were able to capture them all. The captured rebels were tied together on ground well dried by the sun, until finally their leader was also apprehended, bound up in bracken rope and thrown into a dungeon. The result of this battle was that 3,000 rebels were captured and delivered to their local lord. Kanasaki's army had won a magnificent triumph.
Futsunushi's Battle with the Isoramichi (2)
Soon after this, another express messenger arrived. According to the report he bore, a rebel force from Tateyama in the Land of Ne was gathering strength and had already advanced as far as Ano, near Ise. Another council of the nobles was assembled. Their decision was swift: Futsunushi would this time be sent to quell the uprising.
As the army led by Futsunushi approached Ano, the Isoramichi leader caused the appearance of the landscape to change and brought confusion among the nobles. Now he stirred up dark clouds overhead, now dazzled them with blinding light from the sun.
The Isoramichi leader now released a stone-tipped arrows, which hit Futsunushi on the hand and injured his finger. He raced back to report to Amateru. The sovereign pondered awhile, then gave him scorpion fish and butterbur plants. To prevent further injury to their fingers, Futsunushi and his men prepared archery gloves made of animal hide. They then returned to the battle and called out to the Isoramichi, inviting them to release their arrows once again.
The Isoramichi leader was taken aback, as he was sure Futsunushi had been killed in the previous attack. "Though struck by our arrows, you come back to life and are not hurt?" he called. Futsunushi replied, "We have gloves and are not hurt. Receive this!" So saying, Futsunushi and his men released their own hahaya arrows. But the hatare caught the arrows and laughed haughtily.
"We bear a gift from our lord", continued Futsunushi, showing the scorpion fish. The rebels rejoiced. "How did your lord know our favourite food? Do you know?", asked their leader.
Futsunushi gave no reply, but simply said, "We will slay you." Now the rebels grew angry. "Why is that?" the leader asked. "We will kill the Isoramichi, because you have deceived the people to your own advantage", replied Futsunushi. This enraged the Isoramichi even more. They kicked up rocks and hurled abuse, challenging Futsunushi to commence battle. This was the moment he had waited for. He hurled the scorpion fish into the enemy ranks, whereupon the rebels started to fight over it. Now he burnt the butterbur plants, creating a smoke which smothered them. As they fled choking, Futsunushi gave chase, capturing a thousand of them. Saying "Look how he sleeps", Futsunushi's men now grew bolder. They surrounded the Isoramichi leader and bound him, leading him off to the dungeon. Futsunushi sent 1,100 rebels back to their local lord and won another brilliant triumph for his sovereign.
Takemikazuchi's Battle with the Itsunamichi (3)
Again, the hatare reared their heads. This time, the uprising started in Iyo (Shikoku). The rebels had crossed the Inland Sea and invaded the Land of Kii. News of these events reached the court from Amateru's brother Tsukiyomi, residing in the Totsumiya Palace. Again, the nobles assembled for urgent deliberation. This time, it was Takemikazuchi, already famed for his strength and valour, who was sent to pacify them.
Following a decree by Amateru, Takemikazuchi was given deep-fried rice-cakes, with which he hurriedly set off on his mission. As he reached Takano, the Itsunamichi rebels came at him in the guise of wild animals. No sooner had Takemikazuchi and his men cleared their way through these phantoms than the rebel leader appeared. "Return your last two prisoners to me", he demanded, referring to the two hatare leaders already captured. "If you do not, I will seize you, despite your noble rank."
Hearing this, Takemikazuchi laughed. "Do you not know", he retorted, "that I am stronger than any man? I will beat the thunder and I will beat you. Come, the ropes are ready!". Now the rebels raged and came to do battle. Takemikazuchi's men waited for their moment, then hurled their rice-cakes at the enemy. The rebels at once forgot the fight, scrambled forward and started to greedily devour the cakes. Takemikazuchi's men attacked them and tied them all up. The leader was again bound with bracken ropes. The prisoners were tied together in their hundreds, until finally there were 9,900 of them, resembling a field of wild grass. Takemikazuchi himself hauled all the prisoners up Mount Takano, pulling with such might that many choked to death. The dead were buried on the mountain and a mound placed over them. The hundred who survived were incarcerated in a dungeon made at Sasayama.
Takemikazuchi reflected deeply on the tragic outcome of the battle. For, though its original purpose was to pacify the rebels, it ended in so many deaths. Out of respect for their souls, he entered a state of mourning.
When Amateru heard of this, he sent his son Kusuhi to inquire into the matter. Takemikazuchi told him, "I went too far when I pulled them up the mountain and caused their deaths. I am consumed with remorse."
Kusuhi now asked, "Were they human?". "They appeared to be", replied Takemikazuchi.
On receiving Kusuhi's report, Amateru himself went to the dungeon at Sasayama, to see if the rebels really were human. But he found that they had the body of a monkey and the face of a dog. Taking pity on them, he asked after their ancestry. They replied, "Long ago, one of our ancestors consorted with a monkey. Their descendants multiplied, until we all came to look like monkeys."
Their eyes shifted anxiously in a plea for help.
Amateru now issued a decree. "If you return your souls to the heavens, you may become human again. As for those who died on the mountain, they may also be reborn as humans if their souls are separated from their worldly selves."
Hearing this, the hundred prisoners said, "Please, let us all be born again as humans". And with that they went to their death.
This was the doctrine of "returning the soul" to the centre of the universe (tamagaeshi) after death, also known as "kokosuto". By cutting the knot (tama-no-wo) that connected the heavenly spirit (tama) to the carnal self (shii), the soul could return to the heavens and then be born again in human form. The act was entrusted to Tsuwamononushi, Futsunushi, and Takemikazuchi. These three together dispatched the souls of the dead to the centre of the universe and released them from their ape-like state.
Thenceforth this place was called "Sarusarusawa" (Marsh of the Monkeys' Departure) to commemorate the release of the monkey's souls through the doctrine of "tamagaeshi".
Kadamaro's Battle with the Kikumichi (4)
Next, a group of hatare rebels led by three brothers crossed the straits from Tsukushi (Kyushu).
"Even now they are gathering a host on the moor of Hanayama in the Central Plains" (near Yamashina in today's Kyoto Prefecture) was the urgent report delivered breathlessly by the express messenger.
Amateru now issued a command to Kadamaro, grandson of Ukemochi, saying "Go to the land and bring back news".
Kadamaro immediately set off with an army. On reaching Hanayama, they found that the Kikumichi had transformed the surrounding landscape, causing chrysanthemums of various colours to bloom wildly all around. As the men made their way through, they came upon a beautifully coloured flower garden, through which enchanting music played and gorgeous maidens danced. While the nobles watched entranced, as if rooted to the spot, heavy clouds swelled up and a terrible darkness fell all around. In the ghostly silence, burning torches appeared from nowhere, and started to sway in the windless air. Showers of white light like falling stars now fell around their heads, and soon their way was blocked by a swarm of fireflies.
As if to mock their plight, a loud sneering sounded out, and an angry shower of bluestones prevented their advance.
Kadamaro slipped away from the scene to make his report to Amateru. Again, the sovereign thought briefly before issuing his command.
"These are without doubt the Kikumichi, who use witchcraft to deceive people. Their name is like the words kitsune (fox) and kutsune (badger). As a tree (ki or east) grows from its root (ne or north), in our calendar east follows north, and goes through west (tsu) to return again to north. This gives you ki-tsu-ne. So, you should fry rats (nezumi, which "live in the north") and give them to the Kikumichi. A badger (kutsune), however, is different. He dislikes the tail of the will-o'-the-wisp (kitsunebi, fox fire). You can overcome them all by smoking the root of the ginger plant."
On receiving this command, Kadamaro relayed the strategy to his nobles and returned to Hanayama. Again, the rebels made chrysanthemums bloom wildly, startling the host with their frequent changes of colour.
Kadamaro now scattered fried rats in all directions, as instructed by Amateru. The disguises of the rebels shrank away as they fought amongst themselves to snatch the rats. Kadamaro's men now took their chance to attack them. Taken unawares, the Kikumichi rushed headlong to escape, and were hunted down by Kadamaro's men. A thousand were captured and were about to be slain. But then a pitiful cry came up from them.
"We beg you, let us return to allegiance as good-living people. Please, we beg of our Lord Amateru."
Hearing this, Kadamaro took pity on them. He untied them and granted them a pardon. In return, he made them twist large quantities of straw rope together to form a huge net that measured 3 sato (about ten kilometres). Meanwhile, his men burnt large amounts of pepper and ginger, making sure the smoke would reach the rebels downwind. Immediately their witchcraft ceased to have any effect, and they were once again attacked and rounded up. As before, the sovereign forces now hunted down the three hatare leaders and bound them in bracken ropes. To capture the remaining Kikumichi, they took the gigantic net of straw rope and spread it across the plain. They then drove the rebels into the it, seizing them all in one fell swoop.
Altogether 330,000 of these rebels were caught. The three brothers who led them were thrown into the dungeon and Amateru's army celebrated another great triumph.
Amateru's Battle with the Harunahaha (5)
Once again, the hatare rose up in rebellion. This time, the sources of the uprising were the provinces of Hisumi, Hitakami, and Kaguyamato in the north and east of the country.
A succession of swift boats arrived at Futaiwaura to report on the enemy movements.
The nobles once again assembled at the court to deliberate on the matter. Their conclusion was that they would to ask Amateru to go to deal with them in person. To this he agreed without hesitation.
Amateru's consort Seoritsu accompanied the sovereign inside his palanquin. Another of the princesses, Akitsu, shaded them from the sunlight. The nobles Ifukinushi and Kumano-Kusuhi sat astride white and black horses to guard each side of the palanquin. Before them and to the rear went the sovereign army.
Soon they reached the province of Yamada (perhaps Yamada-gun in today's Gumma Prefecture). There, they sent out spies to observe the enemy movements. The Harunahaha changed the appearance of the plains and mountains to confuse them. They stirred up dark clouds and burnt fires, then released a hail of stone-tipped arrows. Next, they cast down thunder and lightning, preventing the company from progressing any further. The leaders of the army now came to Amateru's palanquin to seek advice.
Amateru wrote down a type of palindromic song called a suzu-uta, which started and ended with the same phrase, backwards. He attached the song to a rice-dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves, prepared in advance. This was then hurled at the enemy. As they watched the rebels greedily devouring the food, Amateru's army sang the song. It went:
In their anger, the hatare now released another hail of arrows. But this time, at a sign from Amateru, all the arrows missed and fell harmlessly to the ground. Further enraged, the rebels now spewed sparks of fire at Amateru. Amateru quickly invoked Mizuhame, the deity of water and earth, to quench their fire. When the hatare leader heard of this, he became agitated and tried to flee. Tajikarawo now flew at the Harunahaha, capturing many after the ensuing battle. The remaining rebels were also caught and tied up. They were brought to Amateru and made to prostrate themselves before him. The flap of the sovereign's palanquin was quietly raised. Amateru stood with the Yasakani jewel, symbol of divine authority, resting on his chest. His consort Seoritsu lifted up the divine Mafutsu mirror, and Akitsu held the Kusanagi eight-sided sword. Now all were seated as the trial of the Harunahaha commenced.
First, Ifukinushi asked the rebel leader a simple question. "Why did you do it?", he said.
"We were told by Shirahito, Governor of the Land of Ne", the leader replied, "that if we could prove our might in battle, he would make us lords of the land. This was the command of Sosanowo."
"If what you say is true, let us see your reflection in the heavenly mirror", said Ifukinushi. In the reflection, wings were clearly visible. Ifukinushi now declared, "These hatare have the legs of the chimera bird. They deceive us with their magic tricks. Put them all to death!".
Kumano-Kusuhi invoked the deity of Kumano (Isanami), whereupon eight crows descended all together.
This refers to events long ago, when Isanagi was parted in death from his beloved Isanami. In his bitter grief, Isanagi entered the spirit world and tried to be reunited with her on that same night. Not wanting him to see her hideous corpse, Isanami sent eight hags to chase him away. Eventually, to prevent similar errors that might bring further shame on his dead wife, Isanagi erected a rock as a barrier to mark the border between the world of the living and the world of the dead. He called the rock "the Deity of Chikaeshi", by which is meant both "oath" and "turning back".
A covenant was now drawn up, written in the blood of the hatare. They were bathed in seawater, and when they were again reflected in the mirror, no sign of their evil magic could be seen. Those who were restored to human form in this way were now accepted as humble subjects of the sovereign.
After this, the six rebel leaders who had previously been imprisoned, along with 5,000 Harunahaha rebels captured in this battle and 4,000 others who had been sent back to their home provinces, were summoned to appear before Amateru. As their blood was let and poured into bowls, the image of foxes suddenly appeared on the three Kikumichi leaders. They were therefore called "Mitsugitsune" (the three foxes). The remaining 330,000 rebels were all to be executed, but Kadamaro asked that their lives be spared.
At first, the other nobles could not accept Kadamaro's compassionate plea. But at length, when he had sworn seven oaths, the sincerity of his request was realized and the lives of the men were pardoned.
Amateru now issued a decree. "The descendants of the Mitsugitsune and all foxes shall in future be made to guard the deity Ukenomitama. Should they ever neglect this duty and break their faith, they shall be put to death forthwith. Under these terms, they shall henceforth serve the Lord Kadamaro as his retainers."
Kadamaro relayed Amateru's decree to the three brothers and assigned them their duties. "The eldest brother is to stay here in Ise", he said. "The second shall be sent to Hanayamano in Yamashiro. And the youngest shall go to Asukano in the eastern lands."
So the "three foxes" were separated and sent to different parts of the country, where they were set to work chasing away birds and rodents from the rice fields. This explains why Ukenomitama, Ukemochi (the deity of food), and Kada (Kadamaro) are revered as triple deities in some shrines.
After this, the captured Shimumichi, Isoramichi, and Itsunamichi rebels were also made to write oaths on clay tablets with their own blood, then to bathe in seawater, and finally to show their reflections in the mirror. Those who still appeared as monkeys, serpents, or badgers, numbering 130 in all, were at length put to death.
Amateru now issued another decree.
"If they are killed, the souls of the hatare will continue to be tormented by three fires for all eternity. If they return to human form, they can become the seeds of divinity. For the time being, they shall be placed on the mountain tops."
Already, 9,000 rebels and 90,000 peasants had signed the oath of "returning the soul" (tamagaeshi). The clay tablets bearing their oaths were buried in a place called Tamagawa on Mount Takano.
Ifukinushi's Battle with the Ameyeno (6)
A message arrived from Chiwaya, saying that the leader of the Ameyeno rebels wished to speak with Amateru. The sovereign agreed, sending Ifukinushi to represent him. Ifukinushi travelled in Amateru's own palanquin to grant the rebel's request. Seeing this, the leader was curious.
"Are you a deity?" he asked.
"I am the servant of a deity", replied Ifukinushi.
"Why does the servant of a deity travel in the deity's palanquin?", the leader countered.
"I have come to make you also the servant of that deity", he again replied.
"Do you, a mere underling, wish to cast shame on me in this way? I will make you my servant!", the leader raged. With this, thunder rang out in the skies, conjured up by the deity Hatata. Ifukinushi invoked Utsuroi, the deity of the sky, who made the thunder disappear. Now the rebels threw up dark clouds that covered the sky. So Ifukinushi invoked Shinado, the deity of the wind, who blew the clouds away. The rebels spewed out fire and burnt the dwellings of the people. Ifukinushi invoked Tatsuta, the quenching deity, who put the flames out.
Now the rebels, choking sorely in the rising smoke, attacked the people, hurling showers of pebbles at them.
The sovereign army went to attack the rebels, wearing hoods inside which they concealed oranges. The oranges were then scattered around, whereupon the rebels scrambled to snatch them. They were set upon and some were captured. The remaining rebels themselves put on hoods and came to attack, turning like spinning tops. This momentarily startled the nobles and prevented their attack. So Ifukinushi had them blow into conch shells to stop the enemy's witchcraft. With this, their magic hoods vanished. They were again tempted with oranges and more were rounded up.
Now the rebels came attacking with mallets. Ifukinushi and his men clenched their hands in prayer, whereupon the mallets split open, resembling feather fans made of the tobira plant, and were thus rendered useless.
As the rebels now attempted to flee in great agitation, Tajikarawo grabbed them firmly and tied them up with bracken ropes.
"Now shall you be my servants?", he mocked. But the rebels fell silent and refused to reply. So Tajikarawo took out his sword and prepared to put them to death. Seeing this, Ifukinushi intervened. He made the rebels swear the oath and thus spared their lives. In this way, 100,000 bewitched souls were redeemed through the oath of blood. Released from the flames of devilry, they could now escape their misery. As they rejoiced at their reinstatement as ordinary human beings, they sang praises to the nobles for vanquishing the "devil king of Chiwaya" and releasing them from the bonds of his witchcraft. And with that, they left the place.
(Conferment of Honours)
So now a total of just over 709,000 hatare rebels had successfully been returned to human form. The following day, Seoritsu again brought out the mirror that had worked such wondrous deeds, saying "Let us use this Mafutsu mirror in future generations, to show it to the hatare and return them to humanity!".
In memory of her noble sentiment, the place was thenceforth called "Futami-no-Iwa" (the Rock of Seeing Anew). The mirror that reflected Seoritsu's heart was worshipped on the rocks of Futamiura. Even though washed eight hundred times in the waves of rough tides, it would never rust, and was passed down through the ages as "the mirror of the gods".
Thereafter, phantoms did occasionally appear on Mount Takano to scare the people. But Ifukinushi built a palace here and thereby quietened the spirits. For this, Amateru conferred on him the divine seal of the deity Takano.
Kanasaki, meanwhile, had won a glorious victory in battle and had thereby brought peace and good living to the people. For this, he was bestowed the divine seal of the deity Sumiyoshi ("Live Well"). He was also granted the land of Tsukushi (Kyushu), figuratively described as the "coat-tails of the sovereign's garment". With this he received Amateru's decree to "Rule over all the people of Kyushu in my stead".
Futsunushi was given the divine title of the deity Katori and commanded to rule Kaguyama (Mount Fuji). Takemikazuchi, for his feat in subduing thunder, was bestowed the Kabutsuchi sword of Lord Takemononushi. He also received the Kanaishizuchi sword for quietening earthquakes. This was bestowed in recognition of his earlier creation of a picture map that described the whole country. Tsuwamononushi's skill in tamagaeshi (returning souls) brought pure flowers of truth to fall from heaven all over the land. For this, he was appointed as Lord of the County of Shiki and bestowed the divine title of the deity Anashi Uokami ("Great Peerless Deity"). He was also given the laudatory title of Utsushi-Hikan Oji. And because the technique of tamagaeshi perfected by his father Ichiji was linked to the doctrine of To for purification of the heart (koko), he was also called Kokotomusubi and lauded as Lord Kasuga. To Kanasaki, meanwhile, the sovereign gave the following decree.
"Though many were killed, through tamagaeshi their wayward souls were parted from their bodies and went up to the heavens. Now the hatare are all gone, and it truly feels like spring sunshine (kasuga) in our hearts." For this reason, he named the area Kasuga and gave Kanasaki the forests on Mount Kasuga.
Later, Kokotomusubi married Asaka, the younger sister of Katori (Futsunushi). They had a child named Kasugamaro, whose titular name was Wakahiko. He was to become the great Amenokoyane, who later served Amateru and subsequent sovereigns as Minister of the Left, and is remembered as the deity of the Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara.
- END -
(from the 8th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae, contemporary Japanese translation by Seiji Takabatake)
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