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|Last revised: 05 June 2005|
I. Deities involved in the luring of the Sun Goddess Ama-terasu-opo-mi-kamï out of the cave to which she had retreated in fright upon the death, caused by her brother Susa-nö-wo, of the heavenly weaving maiden1. Ya-po-yörödu-nö-kamï (the “Eight-hundred Myriad Deities”);
2. Omöpi-kane-nö-kamï (“Many-Minds’-Thought-Combining Deity”), the child of Taka-mi-musibi-nö-kamï (“High Generative-Force Deity”);
3. Ama-tu-mara (“Phallus”), the smith, sought by the eight-hundred myriad deities during their quest to produce the mirror;
4. Isi-köri-dome-nö-mikötö (“Stone Cutting Goddess”), whom the eight-hundred myriad deities commissioned to produce the mirror;
5. Tama-nö-ya-nö-mikötö (“Jewel Ancestor Deity”), commissioned by the eight-hundred myriad deities to produce long strings of maga-tama beads;
6-7. Puto-tama-nö-mikötö (“Solemn Offerings Deity”) and Amë-nö-ko-yane-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Small-House Deity”), summoned to perform a divination — later, in hopes of luring Ama-terasu out of the cave, Puto-tama is given to hold in his hands as solemn offerings various objects gathered by the eight-hundred myriad deities (cf. App. 3, (II.5-7)), while Amë-nö-ko-yane intones a solemn liturgy;
8. Amë-nö-uzume-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Formidable-Woman Deity”), whose hilarious dance is instrumental in finally coaxing the Sun Goddess out of the cave; and
9. Amë-nö-Ta-dikara-wo-nö-kamï (“Heavenly Hand-Strength-Male Deity”), a.k.a. Tajikarao, who, having previously hidden near the mouth of the cave, could, with the help of Puto-tama-nö-mikötö, restrain Ama-terasu from returning into it.
II. Two deities helping Opo-kuni-nusi to create land1. Sukuna-biko-na (“Little Lad Deity”), the son of Kamï-musubi-nö-kamï (“Divine Generative-Force Deity”), and elsewhere sometimes identified with Ebisu (the kami of good luck) — the Kojiki relates that Opo-kuni-nusi and Sukuna-biko “jointly created and solidified the land” until Sukuna-biko “passed over to Tökö-yö;” and
2. an unnamed “deity who dwells on Mount Mi-mörö,” who arrives, “lighting up the sea,” once Sukuna-biko is gone, and offers to “create together with” Opo-kuni-nusi, provided the latter agrees to worship him “well,” that is, “on the eastern mountain of the verdant fence of Yamatö.”
III. Deities Involved in Ninigi’s Descent
A. Deities Involved in Events Preliminary to the Descenti. The Aborted First Descent
Amë-nö-osi-po-mimi-nö-mikötö, Ninigi’s father and the first male deity emerging from Ama-terasu’s maga-tama beads; commanded by Ama-terasu to descend to earth so as to rule the lands, he balks when he sees the chaos and disorder caused by the unruly earthly deities. Later, the unruly earthly deities having been subdued, and Opo-kuni-nusi having agreed to yield his power over the earthly realm to the heavenly deities, he is once again commanded (this time jointly by Ama-terasu and the Separate Heavenly Deity Taka-mi-musubi-nö-kamï) to descend to earth to rule the lands, but he proposes that his son Ninigi be sent instead.
ii. The Deliberative Council — The deliberative assembly of deities concerned with subduing the unruly earthly deities
1. Ya-po-yörödu-nö-kamï (the “Eight-hundred Myriad Deities”),
2. Ama-terasu-opo-mi-kamï, the Sun Goddess,
3. Taka-mi-musubi-nö-kamï (“High Generative-Force Deity”), and
4. Omöpi-kane-nö-kamï (“Many-Minds’-Thought-Combining Deity”).
iii. The Failed Attempts to Subdue the Unruly Earthly Deities
Various emissaries were dispatched to subdue the earthly deities, or to report on progress in that matter:
1. Amë-nö-po-pi-nö-mikötö, younger brother of Amë-nö-osi-po-mimi-nö-mikötö, likewise born from Ama-terasu’s maga-tama beads; soon befriending Opo-kuni-nusi, he fails to return;
2. Amë-nö-waka-piko (“Heavenly Young Lad”), heavenly deity despatched three years later, who soon marries the daughter Sita-teru-pime of the Great Land-Ruler Deity Opo-kuni-nusi and, seeking to gain the land for himself, also fails to return;
3. Naki-me (“Weeping-woman”), a pheasant, dispatched eight years later to bring back word why Amë-nö-waka-piko has not yet returned; shot to death by Amë-nö-waka-piko using his heavenly deer-slaying arrow, she too fails to return; the arrow, on the other hand, having continued its flight until it came to rest in Heaven, is found there and returned to its owner, fatally piercing Amë-nö-waka-piko’s chest on its arrival.
iv. Deities Attending the Funeral of Amë-nö-waka-piko
1. Ama-tu-kuni-tama-nö-kamï, the father of the deceased Amë-nö-waka-piko, who descends from heaven along with his wife and children to mourn his dead son,
2. Sita-teru-pime, daughter of Opo-kuni-nusi and the Munakata goddess Takirï-bime-nö-mikötö, and wife of the deceased Amë-nö-waka-piko,
3. Adi-siki-taka-pikone-nö-kamï, a thunder deity, elder brother of Sita-teru-pime, and close friend of the deceased, whom he very strongly resembled.
v. Deities whose Actions Resulted in the Successful “Pacification”
1. Amë-nö-kaku-nö-kamï, the deer-deity dispatched by the assembly of heavenly deities to inquire — for they knew the unruly earthly deities had not yet been subdued — whether the sword deity Itu-nö-wo-pa-bari-nö-kamï — used by Izanagi to kill the Fire Deity, but now dwelling in the Heavenly Rock-cave (Amë-nö-ipa-ya) — would consent to be the next emissary, or whether his son, Take-mika-duti-nö-kamï, should be dispatched instead;
2. Take-mika-duti-nö-kamï (“Valiant Lightning Male Deity”), the sword deity son of Itu-nö-wo-pa-bari-nö-kamï, accompanied by
3. Amë-nö-töri-pune-nö-kamï (“Heavenly Bird-Boat Deity”), the vehicle deity born from Izanagi and Izanami; together they subdue the unruly earthly deities, with Take-mika-duti-nö-kamï returning to report Opo-kuni-nusi’s consent to relinquish his land to the heavenly deities.
B. Deities involved with Ninigi’s descenti. Facilitators of the Descent
1. Saruta-biko-nö-kamï (“Monkey/Mime/Guide-Lad Deity”), a male earthly deity, of startling physiognomy, who appeared unexpectedly in the myriad heavenly crossroads just as Ninigi was about to begin his descent; the Nihongi describes him as emitting glowing radiances from both his mouth and his posterior; other sources identify him as a tengu, i.e., one of the folkloric trickster-goblin descendants of Susa-nö-wo, or even as a hostile earthly wizard-deity come to block or sidetrack the descent. The saru in his name, literally “monkey,” can also signify “mime” or “actor,” or even, by extension, “guide.” See also (ii.3).
2. Amë-nö-uzume, the Formidable-Woman deity whose uninhibited dance was so pivotal in the restoration of Ama-terasu, who is now called upon (as the only one capable of this) to confront Saruta-biko, learning from him his name and that he has come to serve Ninigi as guide; some sources see her as having actually neutralized the wizardry by which Saruta-biko had meant to impede the descent; in any event, Ninigi, once the descent is successfully accomplished, bids Amë-nö-uzume both to accompany Saruta-biko on his return and, when serving Ninigi, to assume Saruta-biko’s name.
ii. The Future Clan Heads
Five deities, all involved in the luring of Ama-terasu out of the cave, were now assigned the role of clan heads, and made to descend before Ninigi:
1. Puto-tama-nö-mikötö (“Solemn Offerings Deity”), the ancestor of the rulers of the Imube hereditary family that, connected with the Yamatö court, had the traditional duty “to provide the implements used in religious worship at the central court or to finance that worship;”
2. Amë-nö-ko-yane-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Small-House Deity”), the ancestor of the rulers of the Nakatömi priestly family that, likewise connected with the Yamatö court, provided the “court functionaries charged with religious ceremonies and with reporting to the throne;”
3. Amë-nö-uzume-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Formidable-Woman Deity”), the ancestor of the rulers of yet another hereditary family connected with Yamatö court, the Sarume, whose members, in keeping with the interpretation of the term saru as “mime” or “actor,” served as participants in ritual dance performances at court; the name Sarume is surely derived from the name of Saruta-biko; the rulers, or kimi, of the Sarume, moreover, tracing their ancestry, after all, to the formidable woman Amë-nö-uzume, are also all women (important families’ kimi generally, in sharp contrast, are men); and — as did Amë-nö-uzume herself, at Ninigi’s request — they too go by the name of the male deity Saruta-biko, perhaps simply because that is (for them) the name their ancestor Amë-nö-uzume is known by;
4. Isi-köri-dome-nö-mikötö (“Stone Cutting Goddess”), the ancestor of the rulers of the Kagami-tukuri, “the ruling family of a scattered corporation of mirror-makers;” and
5. Tama-nö-ya-nö-mikötö (“Jewel Ancestor Deity”), the ancestor of the rulers of the Tama-nö-ya, an old corporation of jewel-makers.
iii. Caretakers of Ama-terasu
Four more deities were sent along to minister to the august mirror, entrusted to Ninigi, in which the Sun Goddess’s captured spirit would reside on earth. Two of these had likewise participated in the luring of Ama-terasu out of her cave:
1. Tökö-yö-nö-omöpi-kane-nö-kamï (“Many-Minds’-Thought-Combining Deity”), authorized to “take the responsibility for the affairs of the presence and carry on the government,” and
2. Amë-nö-Ta-dikara-wo-nö-kamï (“Heavenly Hand-Strength-Male Deity”), a.k.a. Tajikaro;
and two had not:
3. Amë-nö-ipa-to-wakë-nö-kamï (“Heavenly-Rock-Door-Youth Deity”), a.k.a. Kusi-ipa-mado-nö-kamï (“Wondrous Rock-Window Deity”) or Toyö-ipa-mado-nö-kamï (“Abundant Rock-Window Deity”), sometimes called the “deity of the Gate,” all of whose names make reference to the boulder with which Ama-terasu sealed up the mouth of her cave, and
4. Töyö-ukë-bime-nö-kamï (“Abundant Food-Princess Deity”), daughter of the deity Waku-musubi-nö-kamï who had come into existence from the urine of the dying Izanami; enshrined in Geku, the outer shrine of the Grand Shrine of Ise, she provides the pure food used as offerings to Ama-terasu, whose spirit resides in the mirror enshrined in Naiku, the inner shrine of the Grand Shrine of Ise.
It is believed that, with the sole exception of Töyö-ukë, the deities mentioned here did not themselves descend to earth, but rather sent to earth their spirit-substitutes, that is, articles in which their spirits inhere; they themselves remain forever in heaven, as does Ama-terasu, even though her spirit inheres in her mirror. All four deities mentioned here are enshrined at Ise, as, of course, is Ama-terasu herself.
iv. Ninigi’s welcomers
Two heavily armed heavenly deities confront Ninigi upon his descent, and “standing in front of him served him:”
1. Ama-tu-kumë-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Kumë Lord”), and
2. Amë-nö-osi-pi-nö-mikötö (“Heavenly Stealthy Sun Deity”).
These are considered the ancestors of two families specializing in carrying out military and punitive actions.
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|First posted: 21 July 2003|