Japanese legends about Mount Miwa


Legend A:

Princess Yamatototobimomoso became the wife of the god Oomononushi, but since Oomononushi came to her only at night, the girl wished at all costs to see the face of her husband, who could not see it.  Thinking that the spouse has the right to see his face, Oomononushi hid in the box for the combs. The next morning the princess looked in the box and was very frightened to find a small snake there. God Oomononushi, and this snake was exactly him, ashamed of his appearance, left his wife in a fury and returned to Mount Miwa. The princess, grieving the loss of her husband, fainted directly on the chopsticks (‘hashi’), sticking into her body, and therefore died. That’s why the grave in which the princess Yamatototobimoso was buried, is called Hashi. (Kojiki, 10th year of Sujin)

Legend B:

When Ohotomonosajihiko boarded a ship in Minama, his beloved Otohihimeko rose to the top of the mountain and waved (‘furi’) good-bye to him with his handkerchief (‘hire’). That’s why this mountain is called Hirefuri. Five days after his departure, a man came to Otohihimeko every night. Appearance was exactly like Sadihiko. This seemed suspicious to the woman, so she jabbed a hemp string to the man’s clothes and followed him. The thread led her to the swamp on top of the mountain. There she saw a creature with the face of a snake and the body of a man who, at the same moment, turned into a man and began to sing. The maid who saw all of this immediately ran home and told her relatives, but when her relatives ran to the top of the mountain, there was no longer a snake or a girl. Only at the bottom of the marsh was Otohihimeko’s corpse. Otohihimeko was buried near the mountain, and this tomb is there to this day. (Hizen – Fudoki)

Legend C:

In old times, there lived a single daughter, beloved by her parents. And so it happened that every night a handsome youth came to visit this daughter. Whether it was raining on this day, whether the piercing wind was blowing, every night he came to visit the girl. Since he was very handsome, even the mother of the girl was happy about his presence. But one day the young man was not afraid to come even at night, when a terrible storm broke out. This seemed suspicious to her mother. Then the woman decided to ask where he came from and what his name was, but the young man did not answer. After that, her suspicions intensified. One night, the woman threaded a needle and, sneaking up to the pillow of the sleeping young man, tried to pin a needle to his hair. But instead, she pierced him so that the young man, screaming in pain and stamping loudly, rushed out of the house. After him stretched, thread rapidly unwinding from the coil. When the morning came, the woman followed the thread, which led her to a huge abyss. Voices were heard from this abyss.

Listening, she realized that it was two snakes talking, the mother-snake and her son.

‘- I’m sorry, but there’s nothing to be done.’ You have been wounded with iron, and now you will die. Do you want to say something before you die?’ said the mother-snake to her son. To which her son replied:

‘- May I die, but the child who will be born to this girl, will certainly avenge me.’

‘- Indeed. This girl probably does not know about the peach sake, which is drunk on a holiday in March, and about the sake with the petals of iris that drunk every year at the festival in May, and about the sake with the chrysanthemum petals that is traditionally drunk at the festival in September. If she drinks all of these, the child will not be born,’ said the snake-mother.

Hearing these words, the woman immediately hurried home and forced her daughter to drink a peach sake, which is drunk on a holiday in March, a sake with petals of iris that is drunk every year on a holiday in May, and sake with the petals of chrysanthemum that is traditionally drunk on a holiday in September. That’s why they say that at the holidays in March, May and September all the girls need to drink sake. (Japanese wonder tales, Kochi Prefecture, Tosa district)

Kanda, N. (1988). Kodai Izumo to Shisha no Sekai: Shinwa ni Miru Izumo-zō no Kyojitsu. Tokyo: Tairiku Shobō. pp. 94-98. (Own translation).

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