Prince Oshihomimi and the Three Heavenly Treasures
It was the 111th branch of the 25th suzu in the calendar started by the 4th sovereign Ubichini.
In his youth, the great Amateru had been sent to the Yamate Palace in Ketataketsubo, a government seat in the Land of Hitakami, home of his grandfather Toyoke. There, Toyoke had taught him the Amenaru Michi (Way of Heaven). And it was on this hallowed site (identified as the Tagajo ruins near Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture) that the Crown Prince Oshihomimi, Amateru's heir, decided to build his radiant new capital.
The construction of the new palace went without mishap and the tiling of the roof was complete. Now they conducted augury according to the Futomani Book of Divination. The result would determine the day on which the Prince, accompanied by a huge retinue, would formally move into his brand new palace, amid the sweet smell of freshly planed wood.
The new palace was named the Tsubowaka Palace of Taka-no-Kofu (the government seat of Taga).
People came from all over the land to celebrate this auspicious day, endlessly calling out as one, "Yorotoshi! Yorotoshi!" ("Long Live the Prince!") to welcome the sovereign heir.
Oshihomimi was the son of Amateru by his Chief Consort, Hinomae Mukatsuhime, also known as Seoritsu (and by the imina or familiar name of Honoko).
An ubuya (temporary structure designed for childbirth) had been prepared for Honoko by the edge of the Oshihoi spring in the foothills of Mount Fujioka. The location of this spring is now marked by the Kami-Mii and Shimo-Mii Shrines inside the Ise Outer Shrine in Mie Prefecture.
The new-born baby drank his noble mother's milk with such energy that his nappies were always damp. For this reason he was given the imina or familiar name of "Oshihito". His official name was Oshihomimi, in reference to his birth at the edge ("mimi") of this Oshihoi spring.
Following the precedent of his own father, the boy was separated from his parents and sent to live with his grandfather Isanagi, Amateru's father, in the Wakamiya Palace at Taga (Shiga Prefecture).
As Isanagi came to the end of his days, Amateru decreed that the child's upbringing should be entrusted to his aunt and uncle, Princess Waka (Amateru's older sister) and her husband Omohikane. These two now devoted themselves to the boy's education, while also governing the Lands of Ne (Hokuriku) and Sahoko-Chitaru (the San'in region) in conjugal harmony.
Yoromaro (8th in the line of Takamimusubi) grew up together with the Prince as his constant companion. Owing perhaps to his refined disposition, the Prince was not physically strong. His health was so delicate, in fact, that he was only rarely able to perform the misogi purification.
After the death of Omohikane and the Princess Waka, Takagi (the 7th Takamimusubi) took over the rule of the Land of Central Reed Plains (the Kinki region). His son Yoromaro, meanwhile, hurried to Hitakami, where he was installed as Protector of that Land.
A year earlier, the Prince had made an official visit to Hitakami, to honour Amateru's erstwhile residence at Ketataketsubo. Now he transferred the name of Taga (Shiga Prefecture), the place of his upbringing, to the new site. There, he married Takagi's daughter Princess Takuhata-Chichi (otherwise known as Princess Suzuka, now revered at the Katayama Shrine in Mie Prefecture) as his Chief Consort. In accordance with custom, twelve other princesses were also installed as lesser consorts. And with this, the Palace was prepared for the forthcoming wedding celebrations.
Shimatsu-Ushi, son of the Lord of Tsugaru (Ohonamuchi) was chosen as the messenger to take news of this happy occasion to Amateru.
Shimatsu-Ushi immediately set off on his journey, racing on horseback to the Land of Hotsuma (the Kanto and Tokai regions). As an envoy from Amateru, meanwhile, came Kasugamaro (Ame-no-Koyane, deity of the Kasuga Great Shrine), who remained in the sovereign's service. The paths of the two crossed at the hill of Wohashiri in Hotsuma (in modern-day Gotenba City, Shizuoka Prefecture).
Kasugamaro was the first to arrive at the hill. There, he rested his horse and placed his wicker travelling basket in the shade of a pine tree. Soon, Shimatsu too came galloping up, and, having dismounted, let the horse ride off alone. Then the two exchanged the glad news of the wedding celebrations, before setting off severally to west and to east. Their meeting was commemorated in posterity in the name given to this place - "Yuki-kahi Zaka", or the Hill of Crossed Paths.
That autumn, on their respective return journeys, they again met at this place. Thereafter, it was also known as "Yuki-ki no Oka" (the Hill of Coming and Going).
In the meantime, the noble Futsunushi had been given the job of welcoming Amateru's envoy at the border between Hotsuma and Hitakami. There, he met his nephew Kasugamaro face to face for the first time.
After exchanging greetings, Kasugamaro thanked his uncle and accepted a welcoming drink of saké. Below the scene of their exchange was a rock promontory on the coast, where they could see the surf of the waves ceaselessly washing over the rock. Kasugamaro was moved by the soothing sight of this shore, dotted here and there with edible seaweed and clams. He asked his uncle what the place was called. But even Futsunushi didn't know, and could only reply "Na koso mo ga na" (Does it even have a name?). Hearing this, Kasugamaro improvised a song. It went:
"I know the name! Here, as I receive the welcoming sak#233; from Futsunushi, I meet my uncle in convivial harmony, like the clams on the beach. And he looks upon his nephew with the eyes of an equal. We should know the name of this shore, where we meet by chance."
From that time on, the place of their meeting was known as Nakoso (now in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture). And to celebrate their encounter, the two picked cherries to enjoy with their sak#233;.
When Kasugamaro set out on his return journey in the autumn, they held a farewell party on this rock, drinking sak#233; accompanied by rock salt, fish and seaweed. From this comes the use of "sakana" (literally, fish) to mean a snack eaten with saké.
After receiving the envoy from Amateru, Futsunushi took Kasugamaro back along the same road, and eventually entered the court at Take-no-Kofu in Hitakami.
This was the day on which the Three Heavenly Treasures - symbolic regalia without which the sovereign dignity could not be handed down - would pass from Amateru to his heir Oshihomimi, in advance of the dynastic marriage.
Takagi, the Lord of Hitakami, awaited them in person at the palace gates as they returned from their meeting.
Kasugamaro, the envoy sent by Amateru, entered the palace and mounted a high platform covered with straw matting. With the other nobles and ministers lined up before him, he stood and recited, in a sonorous and solemn voice, the Decree of Succession from Amateru to his heir Oshihomimi.
The Prince came down from his nine layers of cushions to sit on six layers as he listened to the decree.
This was the decree of the sovereign Amateru, delivered to Oshihomimi by the envoy Kasugamaro:
"Oshihito, you shall rule the land in our stead, remain true, and nurture the people for a thousand springs and a thousand autumns. Take the Yasakani no Makaritama jewel, our wondrous spirit of divinity, to keep your innermost heart pure and upright. Entrust the Yata no Kagami mirror to your Left, whereby to judge the rights and wrongs of all men. Pass the Yahegaki sword to your Right, whereby to smite turbulent deities, bestow favour and pacify. Receive these Three Treasures, which we pass down to you with our own hand. But think well. Whenever you see the Treasures, look upon yourself. With your spouse Princess Chichi, always hold each other in affection, and follow the ways of courtly grace. We shall take the Path of the Two Deities, Isanami and Isanagi. If our child shall diligently follow the Path, it shall glorify the divine succession, which shall truly continue as long as there is heaven and earth. Futsunushi and Mikatsuchi shall serve you always as you observe the ways of government. These things shall be passed to you, together with a cloth from the spindle tree, a Yatoyo banner, a bow of mulberry, and a feathered arrow."
After delivering this decree from Amateru in all solemn dignity, the envoy stepped down from the matted platform.
One day, Kasugamaro went up to Takagi's palace. From there, he saw golden flowers blooming on what is now Mount Kinka, off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. He asked Takagi the name of this splendid place, to which his host replied:
"When the Lord Amateru resided at Ketatake, the crows that guarded the palace brought forth gold from their mouths, and the trees and grasses blossomed golden flowers. Even the sands on the shore, and the fish and shellfish in the sea, radiated gold. And still today, the view from here has not changed, but continues to blossom gold. For that reason, the mountain has come to be praised as Hisamiruyama (Long View Mountain)."
- END -
(from the 11th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae, contemporary Japanese translation by Seiji Takabatake)
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