Amaterasu Tames the Earth (and where the Japanese people came from)


How do you tame a bajillion gods? Today on Mythology for Slackers at Work, I
bring you the story of how the first Japanese people came to be. That’s right, the Japanese have an origin
story, according to Shinto mythology. Our story starts off with gods who had excessive
libidos. The powerful god Susanoo and his son-in-law
Okuninushi had a lot of children, and their children had children, and pretty soon the
earth was full of gods floating about, getting into fights and borrowing pens without returning
them. The heavenly gods, who were separate from
the earthly gods below, looked down and thought things were getting out of hand. There were too many earthly gods running around
causing trouble, being annoying. Sure, some important deities were born, like
the God of the Hearth, but by the time they got to the God of the Sandals, people were
like c’mon. Not only that, Okuninushi decided to claim
ownership of the earth. Thems were fighting words because the earth,
the land, was supposed to belong to the number one diva herself, the Lady of Light, the Sun
Goddess Amaterasu. Amaterasu sent one of her sons down to tame
the earthly gods, restore order, and get her earth back. He took one look down at the chaos, gods flying
everywhere, lighting up the night sky, stealing pens, and got scared and ran back to Mommy. So Mommy met with the other heavenly gods
and decided to send another son, who wasn’t a little bitch. After 3 years though, the hero didn’t return. Turned out, the brave son had less cowardice
in him, but a lot more betrayal. The hero had immediately sought out Okuninushi,
the self-proclaimed master of the land, and switched to his side. Damn. Both her sons had failed, but being an Asian
parent, Amaterasu was okay. She was used to disappointment. Second attempt. Amaterasu sent down a second hero, a god named
Ame-no-wakahiko. This time she armed him with a magical bow
and arrows. But they waited and waited and he didn’t
return either. What was going on? After 8 years, the Sun Goddess sent down a
pheasant to find him. The pheasant flew down from heaven… and an arrow pierced right through its heart,
killing it. It was a magical arrow and it continued all
the way up to the heavens. It landed right next to Amaterasu while she
was talking to some other gods. One of the others, Takamimusubi, recognized
it as one of the magical arrows that Ame-no-wakahiko took with him on his mission. Immediately suspicious, Takamimusubi said,
“If he is a traitor, let this arrow strike him dead!” Then threw the arrow down. Of course, the arrow did strike him dead. What happened was, when Ame-no-wakahiko went
down to earth, he fell in love with a daughter of Okuninushi, the master of the land. He married her and stayed on earth. It was probably more fun on earth anyways. He had shot the pheasant, and now his day
was unpleasant. Third attempt. Third time’s a charm, said no one in ancient
Japan. This time, Amaterasu wasn’t playing around. Don’t send a boy to do the job of a warrior
god. She sent down an impressive warrior god: Takemikazuchi. This time. This time, they would succeed. The new hero found Okuninushi, the master
of the land, and demanded he give back the earth to Amaterasu and her descendants. To convince his opponent, Takemikazuchi did
a thing. He stuck his sword to the ground, with its
blade pointing straight up. Then he casually sat on top of the tip. They didn’t call him Iron Sphincter for
nothing. He asked Okuninushi, “Will you give back
the land?” A little rattled at the fearsome display,
Okuninushi said, “I need to ask my son’s opinion when he comes home.” When his son got home and saw the warrior
god’s stunning sword-sitting, he immediately gave up, cast a spell to make himself invisible,
and forever became an invisible god. Takemikazuchi asked again, “Will you give
back the land?” Okuninushi, still in awe of the warrior god’s
anal strength, said, “I need to ask my other son when he comes home.” Surprisingly, when the second son came home,
he was not impressed. He twirled a huge boulder on his fingertips
as a show of strength. He said, “You’ve inserted yourself deep
into our domain, but I will expel you posthaste.” He tried to wrestle the warrior god to the
ground by grabbing Takemikazuchi’s arm. Takemikazuchi didn’t even flinch, he turned
his arm into ice, causing the son to let go. The son then grabbed the other arm, but Takemikazuchi
turned it into the blade of a sword, again forcing the son to let go. He then grabbed the little twerp’s arm and
crushed it. He chased the son to Lake Suwa and was about
to kill him when the son gave up right there. He promised to stay right at Lake Suwa and
never bother Takemikazuchi again. They say the shrine of Suwa sits on that spot
to this day. The wrestling match between the two is actually
the mythical origin of sumo wrestling. Takemikazuchi went back to Okuninushi and
asked, “Will you give back the land?” This time Okuninushi finally said “Yes,
Anal Hulk.” He would give back the land and make sure
the chaotic earthly gods would not cause trouble. But he had a request, that the heavenly gods
build him a huge home in Izumo so tall that it would touch the heavens above. This way, he would be able to enter and leave
heaven as he pleased. And so the heavenly gods built him the famous
shrine of Izumo Taisha. It still stands today as one of the most important
Shinto shrines. With the earth back in her pocket, the Sun
Goddess Amaterasu sent down her grandson Ninigi to rule over it, because her family always
made her so proud. She gave him three items: a magatama jewel (which was part of
her magical fight with her brother Susanoo), a mirror (which made her leave her cave
and return light to the world), and the sword Kusanagi (which her brother Susanoo
plucked from the tail of an eight-headed eight-tailed snake). These became the three items of Japan’s
Imperial Regalia. They remain to this day the symbols of the
Japanese emperor. They still exist today, supposedly, and are
presented to the new emperor each time a new emperor ascends the throne, but only he and
a few priests are allowed to see them. Not suspect at all. Just saying, if I found epic loot, I’d wanna
show it off. Amaterasu also sent a group of gods down to
earth with her grandson Ninigi. Their descendants became the Yamato clan,
ancestors of the Japanese people. And Ninigi’s great-grandson was Emperor
Jimmu, Japan’s mythical first emperor. Alright, time for today’s quiz question:
What was the name of the legendary Emishi warrior that defeated a Japanese army 50 times
bigger than his? After 24 hours, I’ll randomly pick a winner
from among the correct answers. Winner gets to pick one of these. Last week’s winner was IamMe! Good luck! Want more Japanese Mythology? Check out this playlist! Alright much love guys, and spread the knowledge!

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