Hotsuma-Tsutae The Book of Man (Chapters 36) [Contents] [Japanese] [French]

Princess Yamato Dedicates the Ise Shrine

On the 16th day of the 9th month in the 9th year of the reign of Ikume-Irihiko (the Emperor Suinin), the second Chief Consort Kabayitsuki dreamt that the deity Yamato Ohokuninushi gave her a ritual paper offering. Soon afterwards, she became pregnant. But then she fell ill, and no child appeared.
Exactly three years later, on the 16th day of the 9th month, Kabayitsuki at last gave birth to a girl, whom she named Yamatohime (Princess Yamato) in reference to the deity of her dream. Sadly, Kabayitsuki again fell ill, and died on the 2nd day of the 10th month. The grieving sovereign built a shrine to venerate her memory, and bestowed on her the name of the deity Tsuzuki Kabayinotsuki (now revered at the Kabaitsuki Shrine in Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture).

On the 15th day of the 2nd month in the 15th year, the sovereign chose his third Chief Consort. She was Princess Hihasu, eldest daughter of Taniwa Michiushi. She came to the court accompanied by her four younger sisters, the Princesses Nuhataniiri, Matono, Asaminiiri, and Takeno.
With this, the sovereign finally honoured the dying wish of his first Chief Consort, Sahohime. She had taken her own life in loyalty to her brother, the traitor Sahohiko. But before she died, she said: "After I am gone, please appoint the five daughters of Taniwa Michiushi to succeed me."
On the 1st day of the 8th month, Princess Hihasu was duly installed as Chief Consort, and three of her sisters as concubines. But the fourth sister, Takeno, was returned to her home province on account of her ugliness. On her way back, she felt such unbearable shame that she jumped out of her palanquin into a river and killed herself.
In memory of her sad fate, this region was thereafter called Ochikuni ("Land of the Fall"), in what is now Muko City in Kyoto Prefecture.
The Chief Consort Hihasu later gave birth to three boys and a girl. Of these, the second son, born in the 11th month of the 20th year, was given the familiar name Tarihiko and the titular name Yamato-Woshirowake. He was to become the 12th earthly sovereign, and would later be renamed the Emperor Keikô.

On the 8th day of the 2nd month in the 25th year, Ikume-Irihiko made this decree:
"Our father Mimaki was a truly wise sovereign. He ruled the land with upright and excellent government, was resolute in correcting ills, was always humble and unassuming in his worship of the deities, and exerted all his energy for the good of the people. As a result, the crops grew in abundance and the people lived in peace and affluence. Now, therefore, let us not neglect our worship of the deities."

On the 8th day of the 3rd month, the Princess Toyosuki was discharged of her duty as priestess to the Great Deity Amateru, and the deity's spirit was passed on to Princess Yamato.

Some time earlier, Toyosuki had a dream in which Amateru instructed her to go to the Yosa Shrine in Taniwa (now the Kono Shrine in Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture), carrying a box to house the deity's spirit. There, she was to receive the spirit of Amateru and take it around the region. The beautiful, inviting Amanohashidate (the "Hanging Bridge of Heaven", a narrow strip of land lined with pine trees) in front of the Yosa Shrine presented a noble and beautiful sight. It was as if portentous clouds had risen high into the sky from the village of Kasanuhi in Yamato, where Amateru was venerated, and were trailing across the branches of the blue pines at Miyazu.
After this, Princess Toyosuki returned to the Sasahata Palace in Haibara, Yamato (Uda-gun, Nara Prefecture). But soon, she had another divine dream, and again set off with the image of the Great Deity in search of a place to enshrine it. This time, she travelled past Afumi (Ômi, Lake Biwa) towards Mino in the east. Then she returned southwards, via Sasahata, to Ise, and at last stopped the ringing of her bell at a place called Takahi-Ogawa. There, she built the Takamiya Shrine and laid the deity's spirit to rest.

On the 28th day of the 12th month in the 22nd year, Princess Yamato (familiarly known as Yoshiko), who was 11 years old at the time, resolved to present herself to the service of the deity. Accompanied by Wakago the Elder and Wakago the Younger, she set out for Ise, intending to offer up a comb that had belonged to Ame-no-Uzume, the soothsayer woman. The place where she dropped the comb is still called Kushida or "Comb-Field" (the Kushida Shrine in Matsuzaka, Mie Prefecture).
They stayed there until the first light of the new year. The place where they celebrated the new year was called Akenohara (Field of the First Light), now Akeno in Mie Prefecture. On finally arriving at the Takamiya Palace in Ise, Princess Yamato entered the service of Toyosuki as her niece.

On the 2nd day of the 9th month in the 23rd year, the sovereign issued a decree.
"Our child Honzuwake is old enough to grow a beard. But he still cries like a child and does not speak. What is the reason for this?".
The ministers quickly discussed the matter, and decided that Princess Yamato should pray for guidance. She conducted a rite of divination using rice gruel, and prayed for her older brother Honzuwake. For this reason, the Takamiya Palace became known as Iyinomiya (the Palace of Rice).

Three years later, when Toyosuki was 103 years old, she realized that she would not be able to serve the deity for much longer. So she started to train the Princess Yamato as her successor. After repeated requests, the girl was at length made chief priestess. She then carried the deity's spirit box from Iyino to Yisobe (the Isawa Shrine in Isobe, Mie Prefecture), where she enshrined the spirit of Amateru.
Hearing that there was another good site lying to the south, she sent Wakago the Elder to investigate. By the Yisosuzu River, he met Sarutahiko, who was already 2,080,000 years old. Sarutahiko said:
"Long ago, I received treasures from the Lord Amateru, which I placed in the Sakokushiro Uji Shrine (the former name of the Ise Shrine). I have venerated them there as turbulent spirits for the last 80,000 years. These divine treasures are the halberd tree of the heavenly succession, a beautiful bell, and a sword of earthly energy. This being a sacred place, I light divine torches, conduct prayers and rituals, and offer up song and dance. I pray for the day when the Way of Heaven will be manifest; I wait for the day when the one who is sent from the heavenly deity will appear. I will not yield these treasures to one whose intentions are impure, even if he be my own child. But I will yield them to you. I am an earthly ruler who was born in Nagata in the Land of Awa. Now I can go back to my land and return to the earth. Take these treasures with you, and report this all to your lord."
And so saying, he disappeared.

Wakago returned and reported this encounter to Princess Yamato. On hearing the tale, she quickly proceeded to Uji. Surveying the region, she said:
"This is the Palace of Ise of the Divine Wind, the source of veneration of the Three Heavenly Treasures." And she worshipped the earthly deities in thankful reverence for the stone on which Sarutahiko had sat. Later, she commanded Ohohatanushi with 80 attendants to cut down the grass on the Plain of Yisosuzu and level the land. Then they cut down good trees from mountains near and far, discarded roots and branches, and used the middle parts as pillars to construct a great shrine. Once the height of the chigi ornamental crossbeams* was decided and the shrine was complete, they sent word to the sovereign.
* Projecting rafter ends on a roof gable.
Ikume-Irihiko replied with this decree:
"The Lord Mikasa shall be the Master of Rites. The Lord Watarahi shall be the High Priest. Abe Takenuga shall represent the Sovereign. Wani Kunifuku shall represent the Chief Consort. Monobe Tochine shall represent the Lady Dowager. And Takehi Asato shall represent the Sovereign Princes."
Having given each his respective role, he now caused them to do worship.

On the 16th day of the 9th month in the 26th year, the Great Deity was at last moved to the Sakokushiro Uji Shrine by the Yisosuzu River, and during the night of the 17th, the sacred pillar was installed. Meanwhile, the sovereign went in person to the capital at Take and prayed for a rich harvest. To ensure a good balance of rain, wind and sunshine and protect the welfare of the nation, he established public holidays on the five nodal days of the year (the 7th day of the 1st month, the 3rd of the 3rd, the 5th of the 5th, the 7th of the 7th, and the 9th of the 9th). And the common people rejoiced in gratitude for the sovereign's heartfelt benevolence.

The Great Deity Amateru was also gladdened by the completion of the shrine, and appeared to Princess Yamato in a dream, saying:
"I lived long at the Sakokushiro Palace in Ise, which is washed by the ceaseless waves of the sea. There I should for ever be enshrined and protected, together with the Lord Toyoke."
When Princess Yamato reported this to the sovereign, he too was filled with joy. He personally made nigite (ritual paper strips), and sent Mikemochi of Miwa as an envoy to the deity Toyoke. The Master of Rites was to be Taniwa Michiushi.

This was the teaching of the deity Ohokuninushi:
"The Great Deity established the Way of Ise for the good of human succession, and since then eight hundred myriads of human beings have been blessed with life. Therefore, the number of katsuogi roof-ridge logs shall be eight. The insides of the chigi ornamental cross-beams shall be planed, and this shall therefore be called the Uchimiya or Inner Palace. The meaning of this is that the rule inside the palace shall be smooth and the myriad peoples shall live in contentment. The Lord Toyoke, meanwhile, established the Rule of the Halberd to smite wrongdoers. He showed us the nine stars of the heavenly realm (the Pole Star and eight constellations), and so the number of katsuogi roof-ridge logs on his palace shall be nine. The outsides of his chigi cross-beams shall be planed, and for this reason the palace shall be called the Tomiya or Outer Palace. Let us revere the generous heart but awesome power of this deity, the father of the people. The Inner Palace represents the heart of the sovereign, who is like the mother of the world blessed with a child."

(Seiji Takabatake, from the 36th 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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