Japan: The Heaven-Descended (cont.)

Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu, is also the great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, providing the link between the realm of heaven and the emperors of Japan. You can read more about Ninigi at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Japanese Mythology unit. Story source: Romance of Old Japan, Part I: Mythology and Legend by E. W. Champney and F. Champney (1917).

The Heaven-Descended (cont.)

So Uzume attired her shapely body in seductive raiment, bared her beauteous breasts, and hied to the Eight Cross-Roads of Heaven. Fearlessly she accosted the formidable monster and with a mocking laugh demanded: “Who art thou that darest thus impede my progress? What meanest thou by this unseemly behaviour?”

The giant, mightily amused by the fearless mien of the playful Goddess, made answer: “My name is Saruta-niko (Deity-of-the-Field-Paths). I respectfully beg to pay homage to the grandchild of Amaterasu and to attend upon him as his guide. Let his august highness descend upon the mountain of Takachihi. There I shall await him. Return to thy master, O wondrous-fair Uzume, and convey him this message.”

Thereupon the august grandchild quitted his Heavenly Rock-Seat, and, thrusting apart the eight-piled clouds of Heaven, clove his way with an awful way-cleaving and descended to earth!

From the Rainbow Bridge of Heaven, Ninigi stepped forth and alighted upon the peak of Takachihi in the isle Tsukushi, where, as had been agreed upon, the Deity-of-the-Field-Paths awaited him. When Ninigi had journeyed throughout his kingdom and had viewed the cloud-soaring mountains and endless primeval forests, the fertile valleys, and smiling sapphire lakes, he chose a fair hill overlooking the Inland Ocean, and builded him a vast and lofty palace “whose pillars rested on the nethermost rock, and whose beams rose to the High Plain of Heaven.”

So content was Ninigi with the faithful services of the Deity-of-the-Field-Paths that he bestowed upon him the beauteous Uzume in wedlock. Thereupon the terrible giant took the merry Goddess to his mountain fastnesses, where they dwell forever in joyance and mirth.

Thereafter Ninigi bethought himself of his own lonely and unromantic lot, when on a day as he walked upon the shore, he beheld a maiden of exceeding loveliness. Straightway he became greatly enamoured and accosting her forthwith demanded: “Who art thou, most beauteous Princess?”

To him modestly the maiden answered: “My name is Ko-no-hana (Princess Tree-Blossom), and I am the daughter of Oho-yama (Great-Mountain-Possessor).”

Hastily Ninigi betook himself to her father and implored the hand of the fair Princess.

But the monarch of the mountains had an elder daughter, Iha-naga-hime (Princess Long-as-the-Rocks), no ill-favoured dame of adamantine heart, unlike unto her sweet-souled sister. Oho-yama desired that the offspring of Ninigi should, like the rocks, endure eternally and flourish as the blossoms of the trees. Wherefore he gave to Ninigi both of his daughters, clothing each in bright raiment and lading them with costly gifts.

But of Princess Long-as-the-Rocks, Ninigi would have nothing, bidding her return to her father.

Angered by his rejection the ugly daughter cried out in imprecation: “Hadst thou chosen me thy descendants would have lived for ever; henceforth shall they wither as the blossoms of the trees!”

Wherefore is the life of man brief as the bloom of the flowers.

Nathless Ninigi and the Princess Tree-Blossom dwelt long time together in peace and happiness, till on a woeful day a sudden cloud shrouded them in deepest gloom.

The ardent Summer Wind wooed Princess Tree-Blossom with importunate caresses and, although he had no cause for jealousy, a madness fell upon Ninigi so that he disowned his sons.

His faithful wife, confident in her innocence, demanded the Ordeal by Fire. Retiring with her children into her dwelling she applied the torch and invoked thus their divine ancestress:

“Celestial Sun-Goddess, if these be the offspring of thy Heavenly grandchild suffer not the fire to harm them!”

Out of the very flames and into the arms of their father sprang the laughing boys. Thereupon Ninigi, perceiving the princess also untouched by the flames, knew how shamefully he had wronged her, and falling upon his knees besought her forgiveness protesting:

Like Mina’s stream that foaming falls
From white Tsukuba’s height,
My whelming love shall flow to thee
Strong as a torrent, pure and free,
Calm as a pool of night.

(700 words)

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