Saturday, July 11, 2020

Karakamishiragi Shrine & a serious revising of myth-history


At the far western edge of the village of Isotake is the small fishing port, and next to it a small, fairly standard, little shrine with modern torii, standard, modern komainu, and the large thick shimenawa typical of the region. What is interesting is the name Karakamishiragi Shrine which translates as "gods from Silla Shrine", Silla being one of the countries that made up the Korean peninsula before becoming unified.

The kami enshrined here are Susano and two of his daughters, Oyatsuhime and Tsunatsuhime. His son, Isotakeru, gave his name to the village, but curiously is not enshrined here. According to the local records they all arrived here from Silla and established what later became known as Izumo Culture. It also says they travelled back and forth between here and Korea with local kami, transferring technology.

This is quite different from the mainstream, official version of the mytho-history which has Susano descending directly to japan from the High Plain of Heaven. That version is the one in the Kojiki which nowadays is touted as the oldest book in Japan, but to be quite frank is a very revisionist, political rewriting of the myths to suit a small group of powerful clans who had seized power just before writing the kojiki.

Visiting this shrine not long after moving to the area set me off on a trail of discovery as I followed the local legends and myths that tell quite a different story than the mainstream which became fixed in the early days of the Meiji Period when national myths were needed by the political leaders....It also led me  to a more detailed exploration of Susano, the kami largely dismissed by the mainstream myths in favor of his sister Amaterasu.


  1. A throwaway comment on a Facebook group has Susano as a Korean pirate and Amaterasu as a Taiwanese princess. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but it's intriguing...

    1. I have seen reference to Edo soources that had Susano as a Silla Prince...... an idea that a museum guide I met in Korea also had, and also that Jimmu was from Okinawa....

  2. In my readings about Korea and Japan I have learned that travel between the two to that area of Honshu was fairly common in the 16-17th centuries.