March 20, 2010

Spinning Hammer Mouse Shrine

What's going on with the mouse in the video? I read a description at the shrine, but it didn't seem too clear as I have a loose grasp of ancient Japanese mythology. Luckily this site has some info about why the gods Susano-O and O-Kuni-Nushi were being mentioned so much and what was up with the arrow the mouse found. Read on:
Traditions have O-Kuni-Nushi being sent straight to the underworld after his brothers tried to kill him in order to avoid their revenge. In the underworld O-Kuni-Nushi met Suseri-Hime, the daughter of the god of the underworld. They were married, but first Susano-O made O-Kuni-Nushi pass three tests. The first test was to put him to sleep in a room of snakes. O-Kuni-Nushi saves himself with the scarf that Suseri-Hime gave him. The next night he had to sleep in a room full of centipedes and wasps, but he again used another scarf that Suseri-Hime had given him to protect himself. The final test that Susano-O gives him is to find an arrow, which Susano-O had sent into the middle of a huge meadow. When O-Kuni-Nushi is in the middle of the field, Susano-O set fire to the grass, luckily however; a mouse saves him by showing him an underground room. The mouse then brings the arrow to O-Kuni-Nushi. O-Kuni-Nushi's success helps Susano-O to feel more at ease with him, so he has O-Kuni-Nushi wash his hair and finally goes to sleep. O-Kuni-Nushi then ties Susano-O's hair to the rafters of the house and with his wife on his back fled. He also took with him Susano-O's sword, bow, arrows, and his Koto (harp). Susano-O is awakened when the Koto brushes against a tree. In the time it took for Susano-O to free his hair, the two were far away. From the slopes of the underworld, Susano-O advises O-Kuni-Nushi, whom he sees in the distance, to use the weapons to fight his brothers, foretelling that O-Kuni-Nushi would conquer them and reign over the world. He also asked O-Kuni-Nushi to make Suseri-Hime his main wife and to build a palace at the foot of Mount Uka.
But heck if I know why those mice are holding hammers at the shrine. I also don't know if mention of a main wife alludes to Heian polygamy practices (it's good to be the kizoku !), when I imagine these stories may have been collected. Any ideas, Dear Reader?

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