[4/8] JAPANESE GODS AND GODDESSES | SUSANOO
Susanoo [須佐之男], also known as Takehaya Susanoo-no-Mikoto, is the Shinto god of the sea and storms.
In Japanese mythology, Susanoo, the powerful storm of Summer, is the brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the Moon. A long-standing rivalry exists between Susanoo and his sister. One story recounts how Izanagi, their father, tired of Susanoo’s repeated complaints, and so banished him to the underworld. Susanoo acquiesced, but first went to heaven to bid farewell to his sister. Amaterasu knew her unpredictable brother did not have any good intentions and prepared for battle. Though Susanoo proclaimed a peaceful leave, she did not believe him and requested a contest for proof of his good faith. A challenge was set as to who could bring forth more noble divine children. Amaterasu made three women from Susanoo’s sword, while Susanoo made five men from Amaterasu’s ornament chain. Since more gods had come from her own object, Amatarasu’s insistence that she was victorious drove Susanoo to violent campaigns, causing Amaterasu to flee and hide in the cave called Iwayado. As the incarnation of the sun disappeared into the cave, darkness covered the world. Though she was eventually persuaded to leave the cave, Susanoo was punished by being banished from Heaven.
Descending to the earthly realm, Susanoo landed in the province of Izumo. While wandering along the river Hi, Susanoo found three figures — an old man, a woman, and their beautiful young daughter — all sobbing uncontrollably. On enquiry, they told the god that their distress was caused by a gigantic serpent which came to terrorize the region every year. Every visit, it ate one of the aged couple’s daughters. They were now left to their last daughter, Kushinadahime. Susanoo ventured that if he killed the monster, he could marry the beautiful girl. Agreeing to this, the parents followed the god’s instructions and placed eight cups filled with extra strong sake at each of the doorways of their house. After a while, the monstrous serpent arrived with fire spitting from each of his eight heads. When the fearsome creature smelt the sake, it could not resist and each head drank from one of the cups. Consequently, the serpent collapsed completely drunk and Susanoo nonchalantly stepped out from his hiding place and lopped off each of the serpent’s heads with his sword. Then opening the creature’s belly, Susanoo discovered the special sword, the Kusanagi. This sword he presented to his sister by way of apology for his earlier misdeeds. Susanoo then married Kushinadahime and together they produced many generations of gods.