第四章History of Izumo, Chapter 4

Yamata no Orochi

Susanoo no Mikoto meets an old man and an old woman which were holding their daughter in their arms and crying - ancient japan izumo travel guide

The story of the monster attacking the land of Izumo, Yamata no Orochi (Big serpent) Susanoo no Mikoto fights trying to save a girl

There was a God called Susanoo no Mikoto. Susanoo has committed many crimes in land of Takama-ga-hara, which his older God sister Amaterasu Okami ruled, such as destroying the edge between rice fields, defiling the sacred palace and many other crimes. Amaterasu was defending him at first, but she eventually got afraid and hid herself in the cavern of Ama no iwa yado (Gate of celestial rock cave). Due to this, the world befell in darkness, and many disasters happened, making the Gods of Takama-ga-hara cast away Susanoo.

Susanoo, who had been banished from Takama-ga-hara, descended on the land of Izumo near the banks of Hinokawa River, at a place called Torikami. At that time, a bridge came running down the stream, so he said, "There must be people living upstream.”, going upstream in search for people. Not before long, he meets an old man and an old woman which were holding their daughter in their arms and crying.

Yamata no Orochi - ancient japan izumo travel guide

As Susanoo asked, “You people, why are you crying like this?", they then replied, "I had eight daughters, but Yamata no Orochi (Big serpent) came and took one to eat each year. Now, that time of the year is upon us again, so that's why I'm crying.”
“What kind of monster is that Yamata no Orochi (Big serpent)”, “The Big serpent has large red eyes, with eight heads and eight tails in one single body. On its body, there grow not only moos, but also Cedar trees and cypress trees, his length stretches over eight valleys and surpasses eight mountains. His belly is always soothed in blood, which is dripping away dissipated.”

Susanoo hearing that then said,
“Let me marry your daughter. In exchange, I'll exterminate the Big serpent for you.”
“I'm afraid we don't even know your name.”
“I'm the younger brother of Amaterasu, call me Susanoo.”
“We are humbly in your debt. Please marry our daughter.”
Susanoo then immediately turned that girl, Kushinadahime, into a comb, which he stuck into his hair and then said the old couple.

Susanoo no Mikoto fights Yamata no Orochi - ancient japan izumo travel guide

“I want you to make me lots of strong Sake. Also, put up sturdy fences with eight gates, each having a pedestal on which you'll put lots of the strong Sake.”
The old couple prepared just as they have been told and waited in suspense till the Big serpent to show up.
Then, before long a rumbling noise could be heard as Yamata no Orochi (Big serpent) appeared. He then immediately stuck his eight heads through the gates and drank the Sake.

Mighty sword came out - ancient japan izumo travel guide

Soon after the Big serpent got drunk and went to sleep. Looking at its form, it was a gigantic snake. Susanoo took the chance and drew the sword bond on his waist, and then cut the Big serpent in pieces. The Hinokawa River then turned bright red with the blood flushing away from the Big serpent.
When Susanoo cut through the inside of the tail of the Big serpent, the blade of his sword chipped, so he thought it to be strange, so taking a look at the tail he ripped it open, then a mighty sword came out. Thinking of it to be a strange thing, he decided to give it to Amaterasu. Thus, he ended up marrying with Kushinadahime.

Susanoo no Mikoto marrying with Kushinadahime - ancient japan izumo travel guide

After that, the two of them started to look for a place through the lands of Izumo, in the pursuit of building a palace. As they reached a certain place, Susanoo said, "Coming here, I feel very refreshed and at ease." So, they built a palace and started living there. Nowadays people call that place Suga.