Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Heaven (Chapters 14) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

Amateru's Decrees on Prayers of Succession

The heavens were clear and bright, the earth was still, and all was well both inside and outside Amateru's court. The law was established throughout the land, and the people lived in peace.

On a certain day, the three thousand nobles who protected the eight million myriad deities came up to the Ouchi Palace at Ise, to attend the prayers and rituals for obtaining an heir. A multitude of people, on hearing of the grand assembly, came pressing in to the white-pebbled forecourt of the palace to witness the ceremony.
The Gateway of the Sun was guarded by Kushimado (one of the deities of the Kushimado Shrine in Sasayama-cho, Taki-gun, Hyogo Prefecture) and the Gateway of the Moon by Iwamado (likewise). The stockades around the palace were guarded by Ikushima and Tarushima (both now revered at the Ikushima Tarushima Shrine in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture). The ground under the palace ("ikasuri", now remembered at the Ikasuri Shrine in Watanabe-cho, Higashi-ku, Osaka) was purified and cleansed of malicious spirits in a ritual known as "oniyarai".

When all the sacred implements had at last been prepared, the Ministers of Left and Right recited the Songs of Peace and Felicitation in sonorous voices. Sakurauchi of Tani*, Minister of the Left, sang the Song of Peace, and Ohoyamakagutsumi*, Minister of the Right, sang the Song of Felicitation.

* Sakurauchi is revered at the Wakasakura Shrine, a small shrine in Tani Wakasakura-cho, Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. This is thought to be the shrine built by Sakurauchi in memory of his ill-fated second daughter, Wakasakura-hime Hanako.

* Ohoyamakagutsumi (Oyamatsumi) is revered at the Mishima Grand Shrine in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Kokotomusubi (also known as Tsuwamononushi, deity of the Anashi Hyozu Shrine in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture) lit the sacred beacons until their light shone all around. His son Kasuga Wakahiko (Ame-no-Koyane, deity of the Kasuga Shrine) erected a sacred pillar to create a Shrine of Succession, clasped his hands in prayer and besought the divine presence of Ame-no-Miwoya (the "August Parent of the Heavens").
The Ohomononushi (Kotoshironushi or Kushihiko, the second Mononushi, also called Ebisu*) raised up ritual prayers, while his son Yorogi Mihohiko (Komori, the third Mononushi, deity of the Yorogi Shrine in Aoyanagi, Adogawa-cho, Shiga Prefecture) offered up eight-coloured paper banners dyed with the patterns of cotton flowers, to welcome the deities of the heavens. These banners themselves were regarded as "deities", which may explain the later use of the word "kami" (deity) to mean "paper".

* The second Mononushi: Kotoshironushi, son of the first Mononushi Ohonamuchi, received the divine name of Okonushi from Amateru's grandson, Ninikine. He was later elevated to the supreme status of Okonomitama (and is revered as such at the Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu, Tokyo) by Amateru himself, in view of his many meritorious deeds.

Hitokotonushi (Katsuragi Hikotonushi, 7th child of Sosanowo, deity of the Katsuragi Hikotonushi Shrine in Ose, Nara Prefecture) beat out a sacred rhythm on a drum. His son Kadaki Yasuhiko (the deity Katsute, revered at the Katsute Shrine in Yoshinoyama, Nara Prefecture) offered up a hempen wand for purification. And they all prayed to the 49 deities of the flowers, that the trees would bring forth seeds and nuts as sustenance.
Now Amateru, moved to see so many people taking part in this solemn prayer of succession, wished to draw up a Book of Succession. This was his decree:

"You nobles, whose lives last tens of thousands of years, just as the ordinary people, who may live for thousands of years, you are all descendants of Kunitokotachi. And from there your origins go back to Amemiwoya, the Great Parent Deity of the Heavens.
"Before heaven and earth and man were separated, Amemiwoya blew the first breath into the swirling confusion and chaos. Then the skies quietly started to turn, rising in the east and setting in the west. Eventually, a heavenly pillar was formed in the centre of the swirling chaos. It split into two, dividing into a negative, female part and a positive, male part. The light, male part turned and rose upwards to form the heavens, while the heavy, female part sank down to form the earth.
"The spirit of the female part divided into water and earth through the motion of the heavens. The air from the male part created the wind, and the wind gave birth to fire, giving the three elements of air, wind and fire. The three original elements of the male became round with fire to form the sun. The two elements of the female became hardened to form the moon.
"These five elements of air, wind, fire, water and earth joined together to form the first human being. The name of this deity was Ameminakanushi (Lord of the Centre of Heaven). He begat children in all corners of the earth and sent them out to every land, where they became the primordial ancestors of all people on earth. Having completed his task, he returned to the heavens, where he now resides in the form of Amemiwoya, the Great Parent Deity, the parent of all our ancestors.
"The cosmos resembles a craggy mountain in form. It embraces the sun, moon and earth like a womb contains a foetus. The stars that shine in the night sky are like speckles seen through a baby's placenta. And in the eternity on the far side of the universe, eight-coloured eight-fold banners stand at the eight extremities.
"In the realms of the cosmos, there are 49 divine positions, deities of creation who are also called 'motoake' (Deities of the First Light). At their centre sits Amemiwoya. Arranged at eight points around the Great Parent Deity, as if to assist him, are the eight Amoto deities (To-Ho-Ka-Mi-Ye-Hi-Ta-Me). Around them are arranged the eight Anare deities (A-I-Hu-He-Mo-Wo-Su-Si). Finally, in the furthest extremities are the remaining 32 deities, known as the Tamimemusubi.
"In this way, the Futomani Chart of 49 deities (the Futomani Chart of Divination) consists of a single deity at its centre, with inner, middle, and outer rings surrounding it. Besides these, a total of 168,000 spirits serve the 49 deities.
"When we are born in human form, the seeds of humanity are sent down by the will of envoys who assist these original deities. They use these seeds to create souls (tama), which are tied to carnal selves (shiyi) using the 'knot of the soul' (tama-no-wo), with the help of the spirits. With this, we receive human life. The Anare deities protect our organs and inner workings, our blood vessels, and our voice. The Tamime deities protect our human appearance.
"In this way, the deities send the spirits of the sun and moon down from the heavens and thereby give birth to deities in human form. Humans, wishing to emulate them, wish to procreate. To do this, they first have to wash impurities from their eyes and bodies, then worship the morning sun. Then they receive the spirits of the sun and moon directly through the eye. When their bodies have thus been warmed, man and woman may join in sexual intercourse.
"If they join together in such purity of spirit, the seed of the man will flow and enter the womb of the woman, and she will conceive. When the white seed of the man joins with the red seed of the woman, they start to turn quietly inside the womb, just like the movements of day and night. During the day, the red rises to the left and the white falls to the right. Then at night, the white is higher and the red is lower. On the first day, they make this turn only once. On the second day, they turn twice, and thrice on the third, adding one turn each day, until, on the 30th day, they are turning thirty times. On the 64th day, they reach their peak, turning 1,080 times. At this time, the shape of the foetus is ready.
"After intercourse, the embryo is like the onokoro, a curdled mass that fell from the lance of Isanagi and Isanami when they stood on the Floating Bridge of Heaven and thrust the lance into the waters below. The membrane of the placenta, meanwhile, is shaped like a waterwheel. Its axle is the umbilical cord, and is likened to the heavenly pillar. Its perfect weight assists the turning of the foetus.
"From the 64th day onwards, the rotation of the embryo starts to slow, losing one turn each day. In the third month, it turns 39 times, and flowers are put out in reference to the Hina Festival.
"After a full four months, the foetus has formed, together with the green of nature. In around the fifth month, the foetus turns only once each day, as at the beginning. From that time, a satsusa girdle should be placed around the abdomen to stabilize the body and protect the foetus.
"Now, the heavenly fire passing through the umbilical cord and the fire of love from the two parents, making three male elements, attract the three female elements, and the waters created by the combination of these six overflow.
"This is followed by the sixth month, the 'waterless' month, when fluid and nutrition is passed to the foetus directly through the umbilical cord. With this, the infant's body begins to be formed. The mother's fluids are warmed inside the infant, create heat and turn into 5-coloured clay. With this, the guardian deity creates the 5 organs in the seventh month and the 6 entrails in the eighth month. In the first half of the ninth month, the 32 aspects of the face are made, and, in the second half, the 14 blood vessels and the 48 sounds of the voice, or the 48 Awa deities. Altogether, these make 96 patterns. Finally, in the twelfth month, the child comes out of the placenta and is born.
"If a man and wife only have a girl but wish to have a male heir, they must know the way of heavenly grace.
"They must first cleanse their bodies, then receive the spirit of the morning sun with their whole bodies. When the spirit of the sun has entered the womb, they must then invoke the spirit of the moon. When the spirits are together, they will start to turn. The male element turns more quickly than the female, and when the male embraces the female the womb is narrowed and a stalk rushes out from the embryo. This is the start of the male organ, and as a result a boy will be born. This is how to obtain a male heir by the grace of the heavens.
"For a girl, you must first embrace the spirit of the moon, then invite the spirit of the day. Then the female will turn more quickly than the male, and when the female embraces the male no stalk will appear on the embryo. Instead, the female organ will form at the entrance to the female canal, and as a result a girl will be born.
"So if you truly wish for a boy, you must learn and practice the way of heavenly grace. You must pray with your whole bodies. The nobles and people of this land of Amateru should know that prayers are realized through my own spirit.
"When I resided in the orb of the sun, however much I shone down on the land, I was not able to teach and guide the people directly because my human form was not yet ready. So the two deities, Isanagi and Isanami, became my parents and invited me to come down in human form. But although my mother conceived me, I remained in her womb for 96 months, and caused her to suffer. When at last I was born, I was still not able to comfort my parents as my education lasted so long. Then, when I became sovereign of the land, I sincerely wished to repay them for their kindness. By teaching the way of obtaining heirs, not only am I repaying my parents but also the blessings of the 49 deities who gave me life and allowed me to use it.
"The origin of my receiving life was that the Lord Toyoke ascended Mount Katsuragi to invoke the deity Amemiwoya, then prayed 8,000 times for the harm of evil spirits to be removed. Suddenly, the true heart of the sun emerged, and the heavenly deities sent down the spirit of the sun, whereupon I was given life. Having grown and learnt the Way of Heaven, I now worship the Lord Toyoke at the Asahi Shrine*. And I wish to create a scripture on the Way of Succession out of respect to the deity Amemiwoya.

* The Asahi Shrine at Manaigahara (now the Hinumanai Shrine in Ineyama-cho, Naka-gun, Kyoto Prefecture), built over the grave mound of the Lord Toyoke.

"Just as the shuttle on a weaving loom goes back and forth, so many times the heavenly grace of the Way of Ise bestows on us our successors. To receive this grace, man and woman must first be warmed by the morning sun before joining together in the way of matrimony. Then a child will surely be conceived. His breath, voice and physical appearance will all be perfected, and he will be born safely.
"This is my decree on Prayers for Succession.
'All who earnestly seek an heir, ever invoke my spirit. This Land of Eight Tohokamiyehitame Deities is a vessel for spreading the Way. Invoke my spirit, and the divine light will appear above. Evildoers will be vanquished and all harm removed. Merely purify your body, and the divine providence will deliver fruit and flower in the form of a child, in accordance with the heavenly teaching of Ise.'
"This is my prayer for receiving children. Make it known to all the people."

When Amateru had finished speaking, Kasuga Wakahiko (or Ame-no-Koyane, deity of the Kasuga Grand Shrine) came forward. After bowing deeply towards the high platform on which Amateru sat, he delivered a song to express his heartfelt emotion.
This is Kasuga Wakahiko's Song of Succession.
Ama inoru kono te kashiwayu
oto o sugu yatoru o-naka no
miko to naru kono ko wa masugu
tarachine no naye no yotsugi no
miko to narikeri

("May the sound of my hand-clapping as I pray to the heavens resound directly, and the child inside the mother's womb shall be a prince. Let the child grow upright and become a true heir to reward his parents.")
After he had sung this song three times, Mihohiko (Yorogimaro, the third Ohomononushi) stood up and, after bowing to the sovereign, expressed his own feelings in another song.
This is Mihohiko's Song of Succession.
Ko o kofuru imo wose naka ni
komori ku no komori sotaten
tarachine no kami

("Let us be the deity of parents, to protect and raise babies inside the husband and wife who wish to have children.")
Mihohiko, too, sang his song three times. Now it was the turn of Yasuhiko (Katsukimaro, son of Hikotonushi). He stood and bowed deeply, before expressing his thoughts in a song of his own.
Yasu yasu to sakura no baba no
midori ko o katsu te ni kakete
ide ya umasen

("Let me bring forth a baby safely with my hands at the horse field where the cherry blossom grows.")
Yasuhiko sang this song three times. And when they had all finished, Amateru issued this decree.

"Wakahiko shall henceforth be given the name of Ame-no-Koyane, and shall receive the seal of the deity Kasuga.
"Mihohiko has been blessed with 36 children, and has raised them lovingly. In recognition of this, he shall be given the seal of the deity Komori.
"Yasuhiko shall have the task of delivering babies safely, and shall be given the seal of the deity Katsute."

And to the other nobles present, he made the following decree.
"Those who truly seek an heir, follow my prayer and the three songs of Kasuga, Komori and Katsute. For these are truly valuable teachings. Learn these songs well and pass them on to your children and your children's children, so that you may never forget these things."

The multitude of nobles and ordinary people, who had listened intently to the proceedings so far, were reluctant to leave, their hearts full of emotion and gratitude. They continued to chant the songs for procurement of progeny, until the 8,000 prayers of succession became established.
At length, as flames started to appear on the torches, they all disappeared into the night after offering a thousand prayers.

This was the Rite for the Procurement of Progeny.

(Seiji Takabatake, from the 14th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)

- END -

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

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