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Volume I Section XVIII.The Eight-Forked Serpent, The Kojiki

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The Kojiki, translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, [1919] So, having been expelled, [His-Swift-impetuous-Male-Augustness] descended to a place [called] Tori-kami 1 at the head-waters of the River Hi 2 in the Land of Idzumo. At this time some chopsticks 3 came floating down the stream. So His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness, thinking that there must be people at the head-waters of the river, went up it in quest of them, when he came upon an old man and an old woman,—two of them,—who had a young girl between them, 4 and were weeping. Then he deigned to ask: "Who are ye?" So the old man replied, saying: "I 5 am an Earthly Deity, 6 child of the Deity Great-Mountain-Possessor. 7 I am called by the name of Foot-Stroking-Elder, 8 my wife is called by the [61] name of Hand-Stroking Elder, and my daughter is called by the name of Wondrous-Inada-Princess." 9 Again he asked: What is the cause of your crying?" [The old man answered] saying: "I had originally eight young girls as daughters. But the eight-forked serpent of Koshi 10 has come every year and devoured [one], and it is now its time to come, wherefore we weep." Then he asked him: "What is its form like?" [The old man] answered, saying: "Its eyes are like akakagachi, 11 it has one body with eight heads and eight tails. Moreover on its body grows moss, and also chamaecyparis 12 and cryptomerias. Its length extends over eight valleys and eight hills, and if one look at its belly, it is all constantly [62] bloody and inflamed." (What is called here akakagachi is the modern hohodzuki. 13) Then His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness said to the old man: "If this be thy daughter, wilt thou offer her to me?" He replied, saying: "With reverence, 14 but I know not thine august name." Then he replied, saying: "I am elder brother 15 to the Heaven-Shining-Great-August-Deity. So I have now descended from Heaven." Then the Deities Foot-Stroker-Elder and Hand-Stroking-Elder said: "If that be so, with reverence will we offer [her to thee]." So His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness, at once taking and changing the young girl into a multitudinous and close-toothed comb which he stuck into his august hair-bunch, said to the Deities Foot-Stroking-Elder and Hand-Stroking-Elder: "Do you distill some eight-fold refined liquor. 16 Also make a fence round about, in that fence make eight gates, at each gate tie [together] eight platforms, 17 on each platform put a liquor-vat, and into each vat pour [63] the eight-fold refined liquor, and wait." So as they waited after having thus prepared everything in accordance with his bidding, the eight-forked serpent came truly as [the old man] had said, and immediately dipped a head into each vat, and drank the liquor. Thereupon it was intoxicated with drinking, and all [the heads] lay down and slept. Then His-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness drew the ten-grasp sabre, 18 that was augustly girded on him, and cut the serpent in pieces, so that the River Hi flowed on changed into a river of blood. So when he cut the middle tail, the edge of his august sword broke. Then, thinking it strange, he thrust into and split [the flesh] with the point of his august sword and looked, and there was a great sword [within]. So he took this great sword, and, thinking it a strange thing, he respectfully informed the Heaven-Shining-Great-August-Deity. 19 This is the Herb-Quelling Great Sword. 20 71:1 Written with the characters , "bird's hairs," but these must surely be phonetic. In the "Chronicles" the same name is written . 71:2 Or Hii, the chief river in Idzumo. The name is supposed by some to have been derived from the name of the god Hi-hayabi (see Section VIII, Note 6). 71:3 Or in the Singular, "a chopstick." 71:4 Literally "had placed a young girl between them," a similar construction to that in Section XIII, (Note 11). 71:5 The humble character "servant" is used by the old man for the First Personal Pronoun. 71:6 . Being generally used antithetically to , "Heavenly Deity," it seems better to translate the characters thus than by "Country "Deity" or "Deity of the Land." (See Section I, Note 11). 71:7 Oho-yama-tsu-mi-no-kami, first mentioned in Sect. VI, (Note 17). 71:8 Ashi-nadzu-chi, the wife's being Te-nadzu-chi. "One account" in the "Chronicles" gives Ashi nadzu-te-nadzu ( ) as the name of the old father alone, while the mother is called Inada-no-miya-nushi Susa-no-yatsu-mimi. (Inada-no-miya-nushi signifies "Mistress of the Temple of Inada"; the signification of the second compound, which forms the name properly so called is not clear, but should probably be interpreted to mean "Impetuous-Eight-Ears," the word susa, "impetuous," containing an allusion to the name of her divine visitor, and "eight ears" being Honorific). 71:9 Kushi-[I]nada-hime, Inada (i.e. ina-da, "rice-field") being the name of a place. Kushi signifies not only "wondrous" but "comb," and is indeed here written with the character for "comb" , so that there is a play on the word in connection with the incident of her transformation into a comb which is mentioned immediately below, though most authorities agree in considering to be here used phonetically for , which is the reading in the "Chronicles." Moribe, however, in his "Idzu no Chi-waki" suggests the etymology Kushi-itadaki-hime ( ) i.e., "Princess [used as] a comb [for] the head." 71:10 Derivation quite obscure. Motowori quotes an absurd etymology given in the "Japanese Words Classified and Explained," which identifies the name of Koshi with the Past Tense of the Verb kuru, "to come"! There is a district (kohori) named Koshi in the modern province of Echigo; but Koshi was down to historical times a somewhat vague designation of all the north-western provinces,—Echizen, Kaga, Noto, Etchiū, and Echigo. A tradition preserved in the "Chronicles" tells us that it was meant to denote the Island of Yezo (or rather, perhaps, the land of the Yezo, i.e. the Ainos). The expression in the first Song in Sect. XXIV, and other similar ones in the early literature show that it was not looked upon as a part of Japan proper. 71:11 See Note 13. 72:12 A coniferous tree, the Chamæcyparis obtusa, in Japanese hi-no-ki. The cryptomeria is Cryptomeria japonica. 72:13 The winter-cherry, Physalis Alkekengi. 72:14 For the word "reverence" here and a few lines further on. conf. Sect. IX, Note 4. 72:15 He was her younger brother; but see Introduction, . 72:16 In Japanese sake, and archaically ki, written with the character and generally translated "rice-beer," but by Dr. Rein "rice-brandy" (Reis-branntwein). The modern sake resembles the Chinese huang chiu ( ). If we translated it by "rice-beer," we should of course have to render by "to brew" the Verb kamu or kamosu ( ) here rendered "to distill." It should be mentioned that Professor Atkinson who, like Dr. Rein, has studied the subject specially, uses the word "brewing;" but apparently no English term exactly represents the process which the liquor undergoes in the course of preparation. A curious question is suggested by the fact that the old Japanese word for "distilling" or "brewing" liquor is homonymous with the Verb "to chew," But there is not, beyond this isolated verbal resemblance, any documentary evidence in favour of the Japanese ever having practised a method of making liquor which still obtains in some of the South Sea Islands.—"One account" of the Chronicles of Japan makes Susa-no-wo say "Take all the fruits, and distill liquor." 72:17 The author doubtless intended, as Motowori suggests, to speak only of eight platforms,—one at each gate,—and not of sixty-four. But what he actually says is as in the translation. 72:18 See Section VIII, Note 1. 73:19 The text is not quite clear, but the above gives the interpretation which the words most naturally lend themselves. Motowori, influenced by the parallel passage in the "Chronicles," which says explicitly that the sword itself was sent up to the Sun-Goddess, reads the passage thus: "thinking it a strange thing, he sent it up with a message to the Heaven-Shining-Great-August- Deity"; and Mr. Satow follows him in thus translating (see Note 4 to Ritual 8, Vol. IX, Pt. II, 198-200 of these "Transactions," where the whole of this legend is translated with one or two slight verbal differences from the version here given). In the opinion of the present writer, Hirata's arguments in favour of the view here taken are conclusive (see his "Sources of the Ancient Histories." Section LXXII, in the second part of Vol. III, p-67). That the sword afterwards appears at the temple of the Sun-Goddess in Ise (see end of Section LXXXII), by the high-priestess of which it is bestowed on the legendary hero Yamato-take, is not to the point in this connection, as it is not necessary that all the parts of a myth should be perfectly consistent. 73:20 Kusa-nagi no tachi. For the applicability of this name see Sect. LXXXIII.

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1 Sara Di Diego = "Otherwise known as "The Central Land of the Reed Plains', the first part of the earth inhabited after the creation. In those days the trees and the flowers could still speak, so that the earth was full of voices."Work Cited:http://www.pantheon.org/articles/i/idzumo.html"
2 Sara Di Diego = "This means winter-cherries.Source:http://blog.lib.umn.edu/maasx003/garden/images/Cherries%20002%20small.jpg"