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CHAPTER 8

Sarutahiko Okami

Tsubaki Grand Shrines lies at the foot of Mount Takayama and Mount Hikiyama upstream on the Suzuka River in Mie Prefecture. It is here that Sarutahiko Okami lived and died. The Kojiki indicates a jinja was established around 300 AD to enshrine his soul on the sacred order of Princess Yamatohime-no-Mikoto, a descendant of the kami of the Sun, Amaterasu. The highest of the Heavenly kami is Amaterasu. The highest of the earthly kami is Sarutahiko Okami, the pioneer of the way of rightness and justice.

Sarutahiko Okami appears in Japanese mythology in the fol low ing incident. (For details, see the Kojiki Vol I, Section XXXIII). He is depicted as standing at the junction of earth and heaven to carry out his mission to guide the grandchildren of Amaterasu to earth, the Imperial Family and the founders of the human race. He is described as extremely masculine with a long, long nose and he stands a majestic seven fathoms tall. His eyes shine like mirrors, and light emits from his mouth and from behind him. He is considered the kami of Guidance, Posi tive ness and he embodies the spirit of true courage.

Sarutahiko Okami is enshrined in the Honden or Shinden as it is also sometimes called, the inner sanctuary. No one but purified priests may enter and the sacred doors are opened only on special festival days. His grave is located within the shrine grounds and is also a sacred place where a small altar stands. In the side buildings, there is a place of worship where the soul of his wife, Ame-no-uzume-no-kami is enshrined.

In Japanese mythology, the kami of the Sun, Amaterasu hides in a cave, and Ame-no-uzume-no-kami performs a some what indecent dance which provokes mas sive laughter among the other kami. The world has been plunged into darkness, but when Amaterasu comes out to see what the noise is about, the other kami immediately put a rope over the entrance to the cave, called Ame-no-iwato in the Kojiki. Thus she must remain outside and the world again has light. (This is recorded in the Kojiki Vol.I, Section XVI.)

Amaterasu then tries to send her grandson, Ninigi-no-Mikoto, to rule over the earth, but a kami on reconnaissance tells Amaterasu that there is a massive man-like kami block ing the path to earth at the heavenly junction. This massive kami terrified the others, and again it is Ame-no-uzume who comes to the rescue. She is asked by Amaterasu to go and meet this frightening kami. Being afraid of nothing, she goes and meets Saru ta hiko and persuades him that he should guide the grandson of Amaterasu to the earth so that he may rule over it.

After coming down to earth, Ame-no-uzume marries Sarutahiko and they settle on the site of what is now Tsubaki Grand Shrine. Ame-no-uzume has many talents. Because of her dance that attracted the attention of Amaterasu, she is re spected as the guardian kami of Entertainment. Marriage also comes under her purvey and because of her fearlessness, she is regarded as the kami of Defense, and therefore among other people, of lawyers. Sarutahiko is the kami of bravery and therefore he acts as the guardian kami of the Japanese martial arts, particularly the form of self defense known as Aikido .

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