Yūrei are figures in Japanese folklore, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. The name consists of two kanji, 幽, meaning "faint" or "dim" and 霊, meaning "soul" or "spirit". Alternative names include 亡霊, meaning ruined or departed spirit, 死霊 meaning dead spirit, or the more encompassing 妖怪 or お化け. Like their Chinese and Western counterparts, they are thought to be spirits kept from a peaceful afterlife. According to traditional Japanese beliefs, all humans have a spirit or soul called a 霊魂; when a person dies, the reikon leaves the body and enters a form of purgatory, where it waits for the proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed so that it may join its ancestors. If this is done the Reikon is believed to be a protector of the living family and to return yearly in August during the Obon Festival to receive thanks. However, if the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide, if the proper rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, the Reikon is thought to transform into a Yūrei, which can bridge the gap back to the physical world.
The emotion or thought need not be strong or driving, innocuous thoughts can cause a death to become disturbed. Once a thought enters the mind of a dying person, their Yūrei will come back to complete the action last thought of before returning to the cycle of reincarnation; the Yūrei exists on Earth until it can be laid to rest, either by performing the missing rituals, or resolving the emotional conflict that still ties it to the physical plane. If the rituals are not completed or the conflict left unresolved, the yūrei will persist in its haunting. Oftentimes the lower the social rank of the person who died violently or, treated harshly during life, the more powerful as a yūrei they would return; this is illustrated in the fate of Oiwa in the story Yotsuya Kaidan, or the servant Okiku in Banchō Sarayashiki. In the late 17th century, a game called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai became popular, kaidan became a subject for theater and other arts. Ukiyo-e artist Maruyama Ōkyo created the first known example of the now-traditional Yūrei, in his painting The Ghost of Oyuki.
The Zenshō-an in Tokyo houses the largest single collection of Yūrei paintings which are only shown in August, the traditional month of the spirits. Today, the appearance of Yūrei is somewhat uniform signalling the ghostly nature of the figure, assuring that it is culturally authentic. White clothing: Yūrei are dressed in white, signifying the white burial kimono used in Edo period funeral rituals. In Shinto, white is a color of ritual purity, traditionally reserved for the dead; this kimono can either be a kyokatabira. They sometimes have a hitaikakushi, a small white triangular piece of cloth tied around the head. Black hair: The hair of a yūrei is long and disheveled, which some believe to be a trademark carried over from kabuki theater, where wigs are used for all actors; this is a misconception: Japanese women traditionally grew their hair long and wore it pinned up, it was let down for the funeral and burial. Hands and feet: A Yūrei's hands dangle lifelessly from the wrists, which are held outstretched with the elbows near the body.
They lack legs and feet, floating in the air. These features originated in Edo period ukiyo-e prints, were copied over to kabuki. In kabuki, this lack of legs and feet is represented by using a long kimono or hoisting the actor into the air by a series of ropes and pulleys. Hitodama: Yūrei are depicted as being accompanied by a pair of floating flames or will o' the wisps in eerie colors such as blue, green, or purple; these ghostly flames are separate parts of the ghost rather than independent spirits. While all Japanese ghosts are called Yūrei, within that category there are several specific types of phantom, classified by the manner they died or their reason for returning to Earth: Onryō: Vengeful ghosts who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their lifetime. Ubume: A mother ghost who died in childbirth, or died leaving young children behind; this Yūrei returns to care for her children bringing them sweets. Goryō: Vengeful ghosts of the aristocratic class those who were martyred.
Funayūrei: The ghosts of those who died at sea. These ghosts are sometimes depicted as scaly fish-like humanoids and some may have a form similar to that of a mermaid or merman. Zashiki-warashi: The ghosts of children. Floating spirits: These spirits do not seek to fulfill an exact purpose and wanders around aimlessly. In ancient times, the disease of the Emperor of Japan was thought to arise as a result of these spirits floating in the air. Earth-bound spirits: Similar to a Fuyūrei and is rare, these spirits do not seek to fulfill an exact purpose and are instead bound to a specific place or situation. Famous examples of this include the famous story of Okiku at the well of Himeji Castle, the haunting in Ju-On: The Grudge. There are two types of ghosts specific to Buddhism, both being examples of unfulfilled earthly hungers being carried on after death, they are different from other classifications of Yūrei due to their religious nature: Gaki Jikininki In Japanese folklore, not only the dead are able to manifest their reikon for a haunting.
Living creatures possessed by extraordinary jealousy or rage can release their spirit
Myōjin or Daimyōjin was a title applied to Japanese deities and, by metonymy, their shrines. The term is thought to have been derived from myōjin, a title once granted by the imperial court to kami deemed to have impressive power and virtue and/or have eminent, well-established shrines and cults; this term is first attested in the Shoku Nihongi, where offerings from the kingdom of Bohai are stated to have been offered to "the eminent shrines in each province" in the year 730. An epithet homophonous with this imperially bestowed title, "shining/apparent kami", was in popular usage from around the Heian period up until the end of the Edo period, coexisting with titles with more explicit Buddhist overtones such as gongen or daibosatsu; the earliest recorded usages of'shining/apparent deity' are found in sources such as in the Sumiyoshi-taisha Jindaiki, which refers to the three Sumiyoshi deities as'Sumiyoshi Daimyōjin', the Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku, which refers to'Matsuo Daimyōjin'. While at first this title did not yet seem to have the Buddhist connotations that would be associated with it, the connection between daimyōjin with the concept of honji suijaku was reinforced by an apocryphal utterance of the Buddha claimed to be derived from the Karuṇāpuṇḍarīka-sūtra quoted and alluded to in various medieval works, but, not in the actual sutra's text: "After I have passed into nirvana, during the Latter Day of the Law, I shall appear as a great shining/apparent deity and save all sentient beings."Up until the early modern period, use of titles such as myōjin or gongen for many deities and their shrines were so widespread that these gods were referred to by their proper names.
For instance, both the god of Kashima Shrine and the shrine itself were known as'Kashima Daimyōjin'. After his death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was deified under the name'Toyokuni Daimyōjin'. Under Yoshida Shintō, the conferral of ranks and titles like myōjin was institutionalized, with the sect issuing out authorization certificates to shrines for a fee; the sect considered the title to be higher than the overtly Buddhist gongen as part of the sect's inversion of honji suijaku, an issue which became a point of contention with the Sannō Ichijitsu Shintō sect spearheaded by the Tendai monk Tenkai. When the Meiji government separated Shinto from Buddhism, official use of titles and terminology perceived as having Buddhist connotations such as myōjin, gongen or daibosatsu by shrines were abolished and discouraged. However, a few deities/shrines are still referred to as myōjin in popular usage today.. Shinbutsu-shūgō, the syncretism of Buddhism and native kami worship Honji suijaku Shinbutsu bunri, the official separation of Shinto from Buddhism during the Meiji period
Mount Hiei is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto, lying on the border between the Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures, Japan. The temple of Enryaku-ji, the first outpost of the Japanese Tendai sect of Buddhism, was founded atop Mount Hiei by Saichō in 788. Hōnen, Nichiren, Dōgen and Shinran all studied at the temple before leaving to start their own practices; the temple complex was razed by Oda Nobunaga in 1571 to quell the rising power of Tendai's warrior monks, but it was rebuilt and remains the Tendai headquarters to this day. The 19th-century Japanese ironclad Hiei was named after this mountain, as was the more famous World War II-era battleship Hiei, the latter having been built as a battlecruiser. Mount Hiei has been featured in many folk tales over the ages, it was thought to be the home of gods and demons of Shinto lore, although it is predominantly known for the Buddhist monks that come from the temple of Enryaku-ji. John Stevens wrote the book The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei, chronicling the practice of walking long distances – up to 52 miles a day for 100 straight days, in an effort to attain enlightenment.
The practice of walking is known as the kaihōgyō. A 2010 US National Public Radio report described the sennichi kaihōgyō as...1,000 days of walking meditation and prayer over a seven-year period around Mount Hiei. Walked 26 miles a day for periods of either 100 or 200 consecutive days — a total distance about the same as walking around the Earth. Beyond the mountain itself, its forests, the views it affords – of Kyoto, of Ohara, of lake Biwa and Shiga – the main attraction is the temple complex of Enryaku-ji; the temple complex spreads out over the mountain, but is concentrated in three areas, connected by foot trails. There are more minor temples and shrines. Unusually, there are a number of French-themed attractions – the peak itself features the Garden Museum Hiei, themed on French impressionism, featuring gardens and French paintings, while there is a French-themed hotel, "L'hotel de Hiei"; the mountain is busiest during the daytime, but has some visitors in the evenings, for light-up displays and to see the night view of the surrounding towns.
The mountain is a popular area for hikers and a toll road provides access by automobile to the top of the mountain. There are two routes of funiculars: the Eizan Cable from the Kyoto side to the connecting point with an aerial tramway to the top, the Sakamoto Cable from the Shiga side to the foot of Enryaku-ji; the attractions on the mountain are quite spread out, so there are regular buses during the daytime connecting the attractions. The center for these is the bus center, in front of the entrance to the main temple complex at Tō-tō. Kaihōgyō Shugendō The 100 Views of Nature in Kansai Anthony Kuhn, "Monk's Enlightenment Begins With A Marathon Walk," National Public Radio. - Enryakuji
Seven Lucky Gods
In Japanese mythology, the Seven Lucky Gods or Seven Gods of Fortune are believed to grant good luck and have their place in netsuke engravings or in other representations. Amongst the seven, not all the gods are mythical characters, as there is one, a historical figure, they all began as remote and impersonal gods, but became much closer canonical figures for certain professions and Japanese arts. During the course of its history, the mutual influence between gods has created confusion about which of them was the patron of certain professions; the worship of this group of gods is due to the importance of the number seven in Japan, a bearer of good luck. It is known that these deities have their origins in ancient gods of fortune: from the Hinduism practiced in Nepal and India; these gods have been recognized as such for over a thousand years by a large number of followers. In the beginning, these gods were worshiped by merchants as the first two were gods of business and trade. Subsequently, the other classes of Japanese society looked for other gods that could correspond with their professions: Benzaiten as the patron of the arts, Fukurokuju as the patron of the sciences, so on.
In ancient times, these gods were worshiped separately, but this happens today – only when it is required for the god to act on behalf of the applicant. The Seven Gods of Fortune started being mentioned as a collective in the year 1420 in Fushimi, in order to imitate the processions of the daimyōs, the feudal lords of pre-modern Japan, it is said that the Buddhist priest Tenkai selected these gods after speaking with the shōgun he served, Iemitsu Tokugawa, at the order of seeking whoever possessed the perfect virtues: longevity, popularity, kindness and magnanimity. Shortly after a famous artist of the time, Kano Yasunobu, was ordained to portray these gods for the first time ever. From the period of the gods Izanami and Izanagi, Ebisu is the only one whose origins are purely Japanese, he is the god of prosperity and wealth in business, of plenitude and abundance in crops and food in general. He is the patron of fishermen and therefore is represented with fishermen's costumes such as a typical hat, a fishing rod in his right hand and a fish that can be either a carp, a hake, a codfish or a sea bass, or any large fish, in general, that symbolize abundance in meals.
It is now common to see his figure in restaurants where fish is served in great quantities or in household kitchens. Daikokuten is one of the Shichifukujin, he is the god of prosperity. There are other characteristics which have been attributed to him, such as being the patron of cooks, farmers and protector of crops. Curiously, he is considered a demon hunter − legend says that the god Daikokuten hung a sacred talisman on the branch of a tree in his garden and, by using this as a trap, he was able to catch a demon; this god is characterized by his smile, wearing a hat on his head. He is depicted with a bag full of valuable objects. Daikokuten originated as a syncretic conflation of the Buddhist death deity Mahākāla with the Shinto deity Ōkuninushi; the Japanese name Daikoku and the Hindi name Mahakala both translate to "Great Blackness". Per the Butsuzōzui compendium of 1690, Daikoku can manifest as a female known as Daikokunyo or Daikokutennyo. Bishamonten's origins can be traced back to Hinduism, but he has been adapted by the Japanese culture.
He comes from the Hindu god Kubera and is known by the name "Vaisravana" from Hindu culture. He is the god of fortune in war and battles associated with authority and dignity, he is the protector of those who behave appropriately. As the patron of fighters, he is represented dressed in armour and a helmet, carrying a pagoda in his left hand, he acts as protector of holy sites and important places and holds a spear in his right hand to fight against the evil spirits. He is depicted in illustrations with a hoop of fire. Benzaiten's origin is found in Hinduism. While being the only female Fukujin in the modern grouping of seven Fukujin, she is named in various ways: Benzaiten, Bentensama, or Benzaitennyo; when she was adapted from Buddhism, she was given the attributes of financial fortune, talent and music among others. In many occasions her figure appears with a Torii, she is represented as a beautiful woman with all the aforementioned attributes. She carries a biwa, a Japanese traditional lute-like instrument and is accompanied by a white snake.
She is the patron of artists, writers and geisha, among others. Considered the incarnation of the southern pole star, Juroujin is the god of the elderly and longevity in Japanese Buddhist mythology, it is said. He was 1.82 meters tall with a long head. Besides his distinctive skull, he is represented with a long white beard, riding a deer and is also accompanied by a 1500 year old crane and a tortoise, as symbols of his affinity with long lives. In addition, he is represented under a peach tree, as the fruit of this tree is considered, by Chinese Taoism, able to prolong life as it has
Yōkai are a class of supernatural monsters and demons in Japanese folklore. The word yōkai is made up of the kanji for "bewitching, they can be called ayakashi, mononoke, or mamono. Yōkai range diversely from the malevolent to the mischievous, or bring good fortune to those who encounter them. Yōkai possess animal features, yet others appear human; some yōkai look like inanimate objects. Yōkai have spiritual or supernatural abilities, with shapeshifting being the most common. Yōkai that shapeshift are called bakemono / obake. Japanese folklorists and historians explain yōkai as personifications of "supernatural or unaccountable phenomena to their informants". In the Edo period, many artists, such as Toriyama Sekien, invented new yōkai taking inspiration from folk tales or purely from their own imagination. Today, several such fabricated yōkai are mistaken to originate in more traditional folklore. Yurei are called yuree in Okinawa, yokai are called majimun マジムン, evil spirits are called yanamun ヤナムン.
What is thought of as "supernatural" depends on the time period. According to Japanese ideas of animism, spirit-like entities called mononoke were believed to reside in all things; such spirits possessed personalities. If the spirit were peaceful, it was a nigi-mitama. Violent spirits, ara-mitama, brought ill fortune -- including natural disasters. One's ancestors and particularly-respected departed elders could be deemed nigi-mitama, accruing status as protective gods and receiving worship. Animals and natural features or phenomena were venerated as nigi-mitama or propitiated as ara-mitama—depending on the area; the ritual for converting ara-mitama into nigi-mitama was called the chinkon. Chinkon rituals were performed to quell maleficent spirits, prevent misfortune and alleviate fear from events and circumstances that could not otherwise be explained. Ara-mitama that failed to achieve deification due to lack of sufficient veneration, or who lost their divinity following attrition of worshipers, became yōkai.
Over time, those things thought to be supernatural became fewer. Meanwhile, depictions of yōkai in emaki and paintings began to standardize, turning into caricatures and softening their fearsome natures. Elements from tales of yōkai were mined for public entertainment. Use of yōkai in popular media began as early as the middle ages. However, the mythology and lore of yōkai became more defined and formalized during the Edo period and after; the folkloricist Tsutomu Ema studied the literature and paintings depicting yōkai and henge and divided them into categories, as presented in the Nihon Yōkai Henge Shi and the Obake no Rekishi. Five categories based on the yōkai's "true form": human, plant, object, or natural phenomenon. Four categories depending on source of mutation: this-world related, spiritual/mental related, reincarnation/next-world related, or material related. Seven categories based on external appearance: human, plant, structure/building, natural object or phenomenon, miscellaneous—as well as compound classifications for yōkai falling into more than one category.
In traditional Japanese folkloristics, yōkai are classified by location or phenomenon associated with their manifestation. Yōkai are indexed in the book Sogo Nihon Minzoku Goi as follows: Yama no ke, michi no ke, ki no ke, mizu no ke, umi no ke, yuki no ke, oto no ke, doubutsu no ke First century: there is a book from what is now China titled 循史伝 with the statement "the spectre was in the imperial court for a long time; the king asked Tui for the reason. He answered that there was great anxiety and he gave a recommendation to empty the imperial room", thus using "妖恠" to mean "phenomenon that surpasses human knowledge." Houki 8: in the Shoku Nihongi, there is the statement "shinto purification is performed because yōkai appear often in the imperial court," using the word "yōkai" to mean not anything in particular, but strange phenomena in general. Middle of the Heian era: In The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, there is the statement "there are tenacious mononoke" as well as a statement by Murasaki Shikibu that "the mononoke have become quite dreadful," which are the first appearances of the word "mononoke."
Koubu 3: In the Taiheiki, in the fifth volume, there is the statement, "Sagami no Nyudo was not at all frightened by yōkai." The ancient times were a period abundant in literature and folktales mentioning and explaining yōkai. Literature such as the Kojiki, the Nihon Shoki, various Fudoki expositioned on legends from the ancient past, mentions of oni, among other kinds of mysterious phenomena can be seen in them. In the Heian period, collections of stories about yōkai and other supernatural phenomena were published in multiple volumes, starting with publications such as the Nihon Ryōiki and the Konjaku Monogatarishū, in these publications, mentions of
The Nihon Shoki, sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is called the Nihongi, it is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. The Nihon Shoki was finished in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō no Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Genshō; the Nihon Shoki begins with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings, goes on with a number of myths as does the Kojiki, but continues its account through to events of the 8th century. It is believed to record the latter reigns of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō; the Nihon Shoki focuses on the merits of the virtuous rulers as well as the errors of the bad rulers. It describes diplomatic contacts with other countries.
The Nihon Shoki was written in classical Chinese. The Kojiki, on the other hand, is written in a combination of Chinese and phonetic transcription of Japanese; the Nihon Shoki contains numerous transliteration notes telling the reader how words were pronounced in Japanese. Collectively, the stories in this book and the Kojiki are referred to as the Kiki stories; the tale of Urashima Tarō is developed from the brief mention in Nihon Shoki that a certain child of Urashima visited Horaisan and saw wonders. The tale has plainly incorporated elements from the famous anecdote of "Luck of the Sea and Luck of the Mountains" found in Nihon Shoki; the developed Urashima tale contains the Rip Van Winkle motif, so some may consider it an early example of fictional time travel. Chapter 01: Kami no Yo no Kami no maki. Chapter 02: Kami no Yo no Shimo no maki. Chapter 03: Kan'yamato Iwarebiko no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 04: Kamu Nunakawamimi no Sumeramikoto. Shikitsuhiko Tamatemi no Sumeramikoto. Ōyamato Hikosukitomo no Sumeramikoto.
Mimatsuhiko Sukitomo no Sumeramikoto. Yamato Tarashihiko Kuni Oshihito no Sumeramikoto. Ōyamato Nekohiko Futoni no Sumeramikoto. Ōyamato Nekohiko Kunikuru no Sumeramikoto. Wakayamato Nekohiko Ōbibi no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 05: Mimaki Iribiko Iniye no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 06: Ikume Iribiko Isachi no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 07: Ōtarashihiko Oshirowake no Sumeramikoto. Waka Tarashihiko no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 08: Tarashi Nakatsuhiko no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 09: Okinaga Tarashihime no Mikoto. Chapter 10: Homuda no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 11: Ōsasagi no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 12: Izahowake no Sumeramikoto. Mitsuhawake no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 13: Oasazuma Wakugo no Sukune no Sumeramikoto. Anaho no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 14: Ōhatsuse no Waka Takeru no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 15: Shiraka no Take Hirokuni Oshi Waka Yamato Neko no Sumeramikoto. Woke no Sumeramikoto. Oke no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 16: Ohatsuse no Waka Sasagi no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 17: Ōdo no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 18: Hirokuni Oshi Take Kanahi no Sumeramikoto.
Take Ohirokuni Oshi Tate no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 19: Amekuni Oshiharaki Hironiwa no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 20: Nunakakura no Futo Tamashiki no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 21: Tachibana no Toyohi no Sumeramikoto. Hatsusebe no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 22: Toyomike Kashikiya Hime no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 23: Okinaga Tarashi Hihironuka no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 24: Ame Toyotakara Ikashi Hitarashi no Hime no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 25: Ame Yorozu Toyohi no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 26: Ame Toyotakara Ikashi Hitarashi no Hime no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 27: Ame Mikoto Hirakasuwake no Sumeramikoto. Chapter 28: Ama no Nunakahara Oki no Mahito no Sumeramikoto, Kami no maki. Chapter 29: Ama no Nunakahara Oki no Mahito no Sumeramikoto, Shimo no maki. Chapter 30: Takamanohara Hirono Hime no Sumeramikoto; the background of the compilation of the Nihon Shoki is that Emperor Tenmu ordered 12 people, including Prince Kawashima, to edit the old history of the empire. Shoku Nihongi notes that "先是一品舍人親王奉勅修日本紀。至是功成奏上。紀卅卷系圖一卷" in the part of May, 720.
It means "Up to that time, Prince Toneri had been compiling Nihongi on the orders of the emperor. The process of compilation is studied by stylistic analysis of each chapter. Although written in classical Chinese character, some sections use styles characteristic of Japanese editors; the Nihon Shoki is a synthesis of older documents on the records, continuously kept in the Yamato court since the sixth century. It includes documents and folklore submitted by clans serving the court. Prior to Nihon Shoki, there were Tennōki and Kokki compiled by Prince Shōtoku and Soga no Umako, but as they were stored in Soga's residence, they were burned at the time of the Isshi Incident; the work's contributors refer to various sources
Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, but its name was changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor; the history of the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi extends into legend. According to Kojiki, the god Susanoo encountered a grieving family of kunitsukami headed by Ashinazuchi in Izumo Province; when Susanoo inquired of Ashinazuchi, he told him that his family was being ravaged by the fearsome Yamata-no-Orochi, an eight-headed serpent of Koshi, who had consumed seven of the family's eight daughters and that the creature was coming for his final daughter, Kushinada-hime. Susanoo investigated the creature, after an abortive encounter he returned with a plan to defeat it. In return, he asked for Kushinada-hime's hand in marriage, agreed. Transforming her temporarily into a comb to have her company during battle, he detailed his plan into steps, he instructed that eight vats of sake be prepared and put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with eight gates.
The monster put one of its heads through each gate. With this distraction, Susanoo slew the beast, he chopped off each head and proceeded to the tails. In the fourth tail, he discovered a great sword inside the body of the serpent which he called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, he presented the sword to the goddess Amaterasu to settle an old grievance. Generations during the reign of the twelfth Emperor, Keikō, Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi was given to the great warrior, Yamato Takeru as part of a pair of gifts given by his aunt, Yamatohime-no-mikoto, the Shrine Maiden of Ise Shrine, to protect her nephew in times of peril; these gifts came in handy when Yamato Takeru was lured onto an open grassland during a hunting expedition by a treacherous warlord. The lord had fiery arrows loosed to ignite the grass and trap Yamato Takeru in the field so that he would burn to death, he killed the warrior's horse to prevent his escape. Yamato Takeru used the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi to cut back the grass and remove fuel from the fire, but in doing so, he discovered that the sword enabled him to control the wind and cause it to move in the direction of his swing.
Taking advantage of this magic, Yamato Takeru used his other gift, fire strikers, to enlarge the fire in the direction of the lord and his men, he used the winds controlled by the sword to sweep the blaze toward them. In triumph, Yamato Takeru renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi to commemorate his narrow escape and victory. Yamato Takeru married and fell in battle against a monster, after ignoring his wife's advice to take the sword with him. Although the sword is mentioned in the Kojiki, this book is a collection of Japanese myths and is not considered a historical document; the first reliable historical mention of the sword is in the Nihonshoki. Although the Nihonshoki contains mythological stories that are not considered reliable history, it records some events that were contemporary or nearly contemporary to its writing, these sections of the book are considered historical. In the Nihonshoki, the Kusanagi was removed from the Imperial palace in 688, moved to Atsuta Shrine after the sword was blamed for causing Emperor Tenmu to fall ill.
Along with the jewel and the mirror, it is one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan, the sword representing the virtue of valor. Kusanagi is kept at Atsuta Shrine but is not available for public display. During the Edo period, while performing various repairs and upkeep at Atsuta Shrine, including replacement of the outer wooden box housing the sword, the Shinto priest Matsuoka Masanao claimed to have been one of several priests to have seen the sword. Per his account, "a stone box was inside a wooden box of length 150 cm, with red clay stuffed into the gap between them. Inside the stone box was a hollowed log of a camphor tree, acting as another box, with an interior lined with gold. Above, placed a sword. Red clay was stuffed between the stone box and the camphor tree box; the sword was about 82 cm long. Its blade resembled a calamus leaf; the middle of the sword had a thickness from the grip about 18cm with an appearance like a fish spine. The sword was fashioned in a white metallic color, well maintained."
After witnessing the sword, the grand priest was banished and the other priests, except for Matsuoka, died from strange diseases. The above account therefore comes from Matsuoka. In The Tale of the Heike, a collection of oral stories transcribed in 1371, the sword is lost at sea after the defeat of the Heike in the Battle of Dan-no-ura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the Heike clan forces and the child Emperor Antoku at the hands of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In the tale, upon hearing of the Navy's defeat, the Emperor's grandmother led the Emperor and his entourage to commit suicide by drowning in the waters of the strait, taking with her two of the three Imperial Regalia: the sacred jewel and the sword Kusanagi; the sacred mirror was recovered in extremis when one of the ladies-in-waiting was about to jump with it into the sea. Although the sacred jewel is said to have been found in its casket floating on the waves, Kusanagi was lost forever. Although written about historical events, The Tale of the Heike is a collection of epic poetry passed down orally and written down nearly 200 years after the actual