Although the tale of Kaka-no-Kukedo, the birthplace of the primary deity of Sada Shrine, is a more riveting tale, I included another Izumo-no-Kuni Fudoki legend in this story. The Fudoki (like 8th century encyclopedias of Japan) in part set out to determine names for all the major geographical features of the country, which included assigning fortuitous kanji (Chinese written characters) for them. Quite often, the names they chose required some mythological background.

This is case, a village derived its name from a little bird.

Read about this bird’s role in Japanese culture here.

The Cettia diphone, clumsily translated as the Japanese Bush Warbler or Japanese nightingale, is simpler to refer to as the known here as uguisu (鶯). In ancient times, it used to be called a houki-dori, a Houki bird (法吉鳥). The legend states that Umugi-hime (sometimes known as Umuka-hime while her sister Kisagai-hime is sometimes known as Kisaka-hime) changed into a Houki bird’s form and flew to that place. Hence, it was called Houki Village (法吉郷).

Years later, the written characters remained, but their pronunciation changed to Hokki. This district of Matsue remainds under that name, and also retains an uguisu as its symbol.

There is, of course, a shrine dedicated to Umugi-hime, though it has changed locations from Uguisu Valley to a spot with a better vantage point. Seeing as she and her sister made their big appearance in the Kojiki when they answered Onamuji’s mother’s pleas and healed his burns and brought him back to life, it is a shrine popularly associated with mothers’ love.




Nearby, there is a pond called Takido. It is said to have salt water because it is connected to the sea, and because many fish get lost there, you can catch quite the haul. Specifically, it is said to be connected to Kaka-no-Kukedo, but given the distance, I can’t help but find this a bit fishy.

Despite the self-proclaimed connection to uguisu (and for that matter, saltwater fish?), the area is probably better known for a good firefly viewing spot in summer.

Advertisements