Princess Tamayori and the White-Feathered Arrow - The Birth of the Emperor Jimmu -
It was early in the seventh month. The sovereign Hohodemi suggested that Kamo Takezumi, younger brother of the Chief Consort Toyotama, should be given a wife. For this purpose, Hohodemi invited him to choose from among the 12 lower-ranking consorts. Takezumi replied:
"It would be presumptuous for me to state a preference. I shall be glad to honour my Lord's decision."
Hearing this, Princess Mihotsu, wife of the Kotoshironushi (Kushihiko, the 2nd Omononushi), said: "Of the sovereign's 12 consorts, three are granddaughters of mine. They are Motome in the rank of suke, and Isoyori and Shiiori in the rank of uchime. I think one of these will suit you well. Isoyori, in particular, is beautiful, gentle and wise. She is truly the jewel of our family."
So now the girl's father Komori, Mihotsu's son, was asked for his consent. Smiling his famous smile, he gladly agreed to the union, and Hohodemi gave Isoyori to Takezumi in marriage. The wedding was held in all splendour at the Kawai Palace, where they both resided thereafter.
At Mizuho, meanwhile, Hohodemi and Toyotama lived together in conjugal harmony in their government of the land.
Many peaceful years went by. But then Hohodemi, realizing that his natural lifespan was approaching its end, decided it was time to hand over the reins of power to his heir. He therefore summoned his son, the Crown Prince Ugayafuki Awasezu, to travel to Mizuho from his palace at Wonifu.
Meeting after a lengthy absence, they gathered with their senior ministers in convivial harmony.
At the meeting, the Crown Prince sat in the centre, with Ame-no-Koyane, Minister of the Mirror, attending on his left and Komori Mihohiko, Minister of the Sword, on his right.
The sovereign personally handed the Mihata no Fumi scriptures to the prince in all due solemnity. The sovereign consort Toyotama raised up the Yata no Kagami eight-handed mirror and passed it to Kasuga (Ame-no-Koyane), Minister of the Left. Motome, the second consort in the ohosuke rank, raised up the Yahegaki sword and passed it to Komori, Minister of the Right.
Ugayafuki Awasezu and his two Ministers received these "Three Heavenly Treasures" with all due dignity.
Hohodemi and Toyotama then removed together to Shinomiya in Otsu, where they lived the remainder of their lives in tranquillity before both passing away there.
Hohodemi died on the 4th day of the 8th month in the year neuto, the last year in the 60-year cycle, in the 850th branch of the 42nd suzu (a tree used to mark the passing of time). When the late sovereign's 48 days of mourning were complete, he was buried at the palace of Isasawake (in modern-day Tsuruga), in accordance with his own decree. There, he was subsequently venerated as the deity of Keyi.
The origin of this name lay in an incident that had changed the course of Hohodemi's life. As a young man, he had lost a fish-hook lent to him by his brother Honosusumi Sakuragi (also known as Umisachihiko or "Prince Bounty of the Seas"), and was wandering disconsolately along the shore at Kita-no-Tsu (Tsuruga). There, he met an old man named Shihozutsu, who shared a packed meal ("keyi") with him while he explained his quandary. The old man made preparations for Hohodemi to cross to the palace of Kagoshima in Kyushu, where he came under the wing of the local governor Hadezumi. Now his fortune changed dramatically for the good. For not only was the missing fish-hook found, but Hohodemi also married Hadezumi's daughter Toyotama, who would spend the rest of her days with him. And it all started with that humble keyi meal.
Princess Toyotama was buried at the Kifune Shrine, where the water deity Mizuha was venerated. This was chosen as her resting place because, while she was in a kamo boat on her way to join Hohodemi in Tsuruga, the boat was hit by a storm and sank. But she was heavy with child at the time, and in her single-minded determination to save her baby, she had prayed to the Mizoro dragon of Kifune. And thanks to Mizoro's protection, she had found the courage to swim to the shore. As a result, she was able to reach Tsuruga, where she successfully delivered her son Ugayafuki Awasezu.
Kifune was also where Toyotama had retreated in shame at being seen naked by her husband shortly after giving birth. She later came to be known as the deity Ayizoro, one of the "boat spirits" of Kifune who protect water for irrigation and create boats of various kinds.
The new sovereign Ugayafuki Awasezu (Ugaya) now issued a decree.
"Taga was the first seat of our ancestors Isanagi and Isanami. We shall have their palace rebuilt and shall move the court there from our grandfather Ninikine's palace at Mizuho. The removal work shall be entrusted to Ishibe and the construction to O-oya. In this way, we shall be able to venerate our ancestors and Ninikine side by side."
When all the preparations were complete, Ugaya moved from Mizuho to Taga and there underwent the rites of accession.
For the ceremony, Ugaya wore a stately garment made of twill and brocade, with jewels adorning his chest, a crown on his head, and formal shoes on his feet. In all these adornments, his appearance was truly magnificent.
The ceremony was held in all solemnity according to the precedent set by Ninikine at Harami.
On the following day, Ugaya appeared before his people, and was greeted with joyous cries of "Yorotoshi! Yorotoshi!" ("Long may he reign!") from the multitude.
Now the accession was reported to Amateru in Ise. Amateru immediately sent back the following decree:
"Long ago, I learnt about the Way of Heaven from the Kagu-no-Fumi (Fragrant Scripture) writings. Now, the many writings bequeathed by our ancestors shall be bestowed on Ugayafuki Awasezu. He should observe well all the teachings set down by our ancestors, and thereby rule the people with compassion, affluence, and peace. If he does so, the people will love him and this land will thrive for long to come. And so that he may conduct good government as the parent of the people in accordance with the spirit of the ancestors, we shall bestow on him the name of 'Miwoya Amakimi' (August Parent Heavenly Sovereign)."
On receiving this decree, Ugaya issued a command of his own. On the winter solstice, there was to be a Great Festival of Accession, when all the heavenly deities and the generations of sovereigns would be venerated in the yuki and suki pavilions. When these festivities were complete, prayers were made for the future prosperity of the nation.
From that time on, the sovereign and his consort ruled from the Tadasu Palace, and the people lived peaceful and affluent lives.
On the 3rd day of the year kiaye, in the 911th branch of the 49th suzu, Ame-no-Koyane addressed the sovereign during the New Year celebrations.
"You have thus far ruled the people well, in observance of the ways of your ancestors", he said. "However, that you have no heir is a matter of concern."
Komori, the Minister of the Right, added:
"I hear that, in Koyane's family, there is a writing called the Yotsugi Fumi (Book of Succession). Perhaps we should have Koyane's son Ama-no-Oshikumo build a Shrine of Succession and make supplication there."
In spite of Oshikumo's efforts, however, there was still no sign of an heir. So now Koyane consulted the Futomani Book of Divination. The result was pronounced "shi-no-hara", and it was decided that this referred to the Princess Yase in the rank of uchime.
The young Princess Yase received the warm felicitations of the other 11 consorts. Then Oshikumo purified himself and prayed earnestly in the Shrine of Succession, until eventually a sign was seen. The princess conceived and, 11 months later, delivered the baby Yitsuse. But sadly, Princess Yase passed away soon after entering the palace for her recuperation. So now a command was issued throughout the country to find a suitable wet-nurse for the baby.
Kamo Takezumi and Isoyori, meanwhile, remained for 13 years without child after being joined in matrimony by the previous sovereign Hohodemi. One day, they prayed earnestly to the deity Wakeikazuchi (Ninikine) for a child to be granted to them. That night, they dreamed that a jewel came down to them from heaven. One year later, their daughter, the Princess Tamayori, was born. She was brought up lovingly by her parents, and grew up to be beautiful, like the jewel in the dream. When she reached adulthood at the age of 14, her parents both passed away and were deified at Kawai (in Kyoto).
After the 48 days of mourning, Tamayori went alone to pray at the Waketsuchi shrine. Suddenly, the wind god Utsuroi appeared and asked her:
"Princess, shall you serve Wakeikazuchi for the rest of your life?"
Looking round in surprise, she replied, "No!"
"Shall you marry?" Utsuroi again enquired.
Tamayori now countered proudly, "Who are you to challenge me? I am the daughter of a noble deity. Pray, what is your name?"
Whereupon Utsuroi flew up and disappeared, issuing thunder and lightning as he went.
One fine day, Tamayori was quietly purifying herself alone on another visit to Waketsuchi, when a white feathered arrow came flying from nowhere and became embedded in the eaves of the shrine. Before long, Tamayori's menstruation stopped and she gave birth to a baby boy.
When the boy reached the age of three, he pointed to a white feathered arrow and said "Father!". Thereupon, the arrow flew up into the heavens and disappeared. As word of this incident spread amongst the people, the rumour went up that the arrow was none other than Wakeikazuchi (Ninikine) himself.
Noble suitors came from various provinces to win the fair princess's hand in marriage. But she refused them all, preferring to retreat to the forest of Takano with her child. There, she built a dwelling and remained in hiding. She also built a small shrine to Wakeikazuchi, and continued to worship his image daily.
These events soon reached the ear of the sovereign, who had sent messengers throughout the country to find a wet-nurse for the Prince Yitsuse. One of them returned with this report:
"In the western foothills of Mount Hiye, there is a beautiful woman living in hiding with her child. Her bosom is full and her milk so abundant, nutritious and pure that the local people bring their weak, skinny children to her for sustenance. When the children drink of her milk, they immediately grow to be stout and strong. They say that this woman is of divine descent, but is hiding in the forest with her child for a certain reason. There are always clouds of five colours hanging over this forest, so people call it Izumojimori ("Forest on the Road to Izumo"). Many noble messengers have already gone to entreat her, but she refuses all. It would be best if your Lordship sent a formal party to fetch her."
Ugaya immediately sent Iwakura as his envoy to persuade Tamayori. But he returned forthwith, saying that the Princess had rebutted the approach.
Hearing this, Waka-Yamakui said, "I think I know why she would refuse to come, even if you were to send your most senior envoy. It is because she has devoted herself day and night to the worship of Wakeikazuchi. If she were move from that place, she would no longer be able to fulfil that duty. I think it would be best for your Lordship to help her by worshipping Wakeikazuchi together."
So Ugaya now sent Waka-Yamakui as his special envoy. The sincerity of his invitation was enough to persuade Tamayori, who at last came up to the capital with her child. Ugaya asked her name. She replied:
"My father was Takezumi and my mother Isoyori. They named me Tamayori. My grandfather was Hadezumi. This child of mine has no father. He was given to me by the gods. If a child has no father, he can have no familiar name (imina). But the people call him the Prince of Yitsumo."
Her speech was refined and intelligent, and her voice clear and beautiful. She truly shone like a glittering jewel.
Ugaya commanded that she be appointed to the rank of uchitsubone, and should have the duty of raising the Prince Yitsuse. Her own child was given the name of Prince Mikeiri. She later bore the sovereign a child, whom they named Prince Inaii. She was then promoted to Chief Consort, and bore another child. This one was later to be known as Kanyamato Ihawarehiko, or the Emperor Jimmu. Ame-Taneko gave him the familiar name of Takehito.
In his delight at the birth of the child, Ugaya composed a 19-beat poem (tsuzu-no-uta):
(Seiji Takabatake, from the 27th aya of the Hotsuma-Tsutae)
- END -
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