ScottLittleton mythology of the East Japanese religion of Shinto revealshow a sun goddess ruled with wisdom in ancient times until theformation of first Japan emperor kingdom. The story begins withAmaterasu,the sun goddess being put to the test by her brother Susanoafter their father Izanagino Mikotohad left all sovereignty of cosmos under the sun goddess (Littleton1). Susano called the ‘raging male’ put his sister, Amaterasuinto a context of divinity upon which, they spat out deities that arebelieved to be the ancestors of modern Japan Emperor rule. SoAmaterasu used Susano’s sword, and Susano used Magatama,Amaterasu’s jewel where they chewed them and let out jewels. Susanolet out more children, but Amaterasu had more male kids than Susano,and therefore, she became victorious from the contest. He refused toaccept defeat and threw a piebald horse into the path of, Amaterasukilling one of her handmaidens. At that point, she decided to hide inthe cave of darkness, and the whole cosmos became dark. She was thentricked to come out by her fellow deities, and Susano was thrown toearth. As the story unfolds, it brings some resemblance with ancientEuropean stories of a hero killing a monster and getting a sword,which then, becomes the symbol of a new nation’s nobility and thepower of women in the established kingdoms.
Thestory resembles those of ancient Europe where a sword is eitherobtained from a rock or a dragon and it is then used as a symbol ofauthority for a new nation. In ancient Arthurian tradition, KingArthur got a massive sword called the Excalibur which he used to wagebattles until becoming the King of England. Arthur pulled the firstsword from a rock but the second sword he obtained it from a lady ofthe lake (Littleton 1). The story of the magical swords is alsoevident in the old mythical story of Amaterasu where Susano obtainsMura-Kumo,a magical sword from the tail of the dragon and later surrenders itto his sister through Honinigi,the grandson before going to the underworld.
Therole of women in the establishment of the new kingdom of Japan iswell intensified in the tale of Amaterasu and even that of ancientEuropean countries. Just as Amaterasu’s brother had no option butto surrender the magical sword, he found in the dragon’s tail tohis sister during the divination test, and the time of his grandson’sreign on earth, the same can be attributed to ancient indo-Europeanmythologies. In Arthur’s case, he surrendered the swords to thelady of the lake who became his wife. In the story of YamatoTakeru,the sword is surrendered to the same woman who gave and later becamehis wife (Littleton 1). These ladies are said to have a duty ofbecoming the leading founders of the respective monarchies, both inEngland and also in Japan.
Justlike Beowulf killed the monster, Grendeland her mother to claim kingship authority in ancient Gaet,the same can be attributed to how Susano killed the eight-headeddragon to claim the magical sword. In all the cases, the swords usedwere magical and were gold in color and stature. But what remainsclear is that monsters that raided kingdoms and killed innocentpeople thereby rendering them hopeless and weak are evident in bothancient stories. In old Greek history, the establishment of the swordwon by Theses from the rock helped to establish the nation from theinvasion of god-like creatures under the watch of Zeus.
Therise of old Japan resonates the rise of other ancient nations likeBritain and Greece concerning myths about, magical swords, monsters,and power of women in the eyes of heroes. In Japan, Amaterasu was theultimate sun goddess who established the power of women in Japanunder the old emperor. She deduced ways that made her the ultimateruler and even when her brother rose against her she remained robustand full of wisdom. Monsters were used in both Beowulf story and alsothat of Amaterasu to render people hopeless until a hero rose anddefeated them. Besides, magical swords were evident in old Arthurkingdoms as well as the one of Amaterasu where they were seen assymbols of authority for any emperorship. All these weapons andevents led to the establishment of old Japan just like otherIndo-European monarchies came into existence.
Littleton,Scott, C. TheSword in the Tail: Susano, Yamato-Takeru, and the Embedded Sword Theme in Ancient Japan.Heroic Age: A journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe, 15,(2012). Web.4thApril 2017.
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