You’ll notice Japan has a lot of “Top 3” lists. There’s not really any ranking within these lists–if something is in the top three, it does not mean it’s a kind way of saying third place, it means it shares first place with two others of its kind. Of course, you’ll notice that has expanded into “Top 100” lists, at which point I think it’s getting a little out of hand, but there are probably already hundreds of “Top 3” lists to begin with. I guess it just means that you can find a “Top 3” list to suit any of your needs.

And if beauty onsen happen to be among your needs, allow me to introduce you to one of those “Top 3”, Yunokawa Onsen, south of Lake Shinji and five minutes away from Izumo Airport! (Not be confused with Yunokawa Onsen in Hokkaido!)

Click for source

This post is following up two other posts introducing the other places associated with this myth.

This post is following up two other posts introducing the other places associated with this myth.

I cannot take credit for this discovery–rather, Princess Yagami herself was said to have found spied this onsen on her way to Izumo, and she happily refreshed herself from the long journey so she could look beautiful in front of her husband–but we all know how that worked out. Stories go on to saw that she stopped there on the way back as well and nursed her broken heart, but was able to start fresh both body and soul afterward–with lovely silky smooth and springy skin, of course.

But hold up… where in the Kojiki did it say that? Or in the Nihonshoki, the more political history-book like of the two? Or was it in the Izumo Fudoki?

This legend is much more recent, perhaps as late as the Edo period. A lot of people were coming up with new interpretations of the Kojiki around those times, so in wider culture, you tend to be left with a mash-up of interpretations about just which kami is actually which kami. Although there have been movements to go back to the original text and reanalyze it in purely linguistic methods (which, depending on whether you’re reading for the character for their meaning or their sound, could give you very different results!), the interpretation of the Kojiki has constantly been evolving, and this piece of cultural canon is so attached to the original Kojiki story that, at least in terms of general cultural use, it’s not worth trying to separate them.

The crystal clear water is rich in sodium and calcium, and it is classified as both a sulphate and chloride type onsen. Chloride onsen tend to warm up your body even faster, so although this lets your skin soak in the minerals, just make sure to stay hydrated and don’t pass out! But that applies at every onsen, though you’ll notice some are especially hot while others are more lukewarm. At least when I went, it was just right for a rather lengthy evening soak outside in the cool night air.

Nestled among the mountains, it’s the perfect spot for a quiet onsen getaway, though if you’re just in for a brief stop, there is a day-trip onsen for ¥500 at Hikawa Bijin no Yu. On your way out, be sure to stop at the Michi-no-Eki (like a rest stop, only much nicer) next to the statue of Yagami by the entrance to the onsen area. Izumo is also famous for ginger, which also has body warming properties, so in addition to ginger products on sale, they also serve ginger curry–that way you can warm yourself up from inside and out! The ginger tea or candy is easier to take home, though~

I must be a bit biased because I continue to mention Tamatsukuri Onsen almost every time I mention an onsen–the bath of the gods may not be in this particular “Top 3” list, but it was listed as one of the “Top 3” onsen in Sei Shonagon’s ever-famous “Pillow Book” record of courtly Heian life. That means we have two top onsen just south of Lake Shinji which the gods are said to frequent, and they’re a very short car-ride away from each other.

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Carrying on from where we left off, there was a gap of time between when Onamuji was revived the first time after his burning encounter with the red boar boulder, and when he was smashed inside a tree. As creative a murder method as that was, I can’t say I’ve found anything indicating which tree it is or what form it would be in now. Nor have I gone romping through the woods looking for suspiciously cut trees or tried replicating the set-up myself–as the saying goes in Japan, ii ko wa mane shinaide ne–“good kids won’t try this at home!”

In that time after his first revival, he was living with Yagami in semi-hiding in Owaimi Shrine, in modern-day Hino-cho, Tottori.

Click for source–and more photos! Pretty ginkgo leaves…

After his second revival, there was a brief detour I left out before Onamuji went to Ne-no-Kuni, but there wouldn’t have been any time to sit back and let his brothers start getting creative again. Speaking of wasting time, Suseri wasted no time in staking her claim on her husband, and then took his well-being into her hands right away.

On his first nights in Ne-no-Kuni, Susano-o had him sleep in rooms filled with poisonous pests, but Onamuji was protected by Suseri’s centipede, wasp, and snake-warding scarves. Since she lived among them it is not surprising that she’d have developed methods for keeping them from bugging her (ha!). She is still associated with this today at Tono Shrine in Daisen-cho, a shrine dedicated to her. Every April they hold a big festival to ward off poisonous pests and other unwanted bugs, and it is said that special sand from the shrine has this effect, too.

Though she was his second wife, Suseri would remain known as Okuninushi’s primary wife, and she was known for being quite jealous. Perhaps some of Okuninushi’s other wives stuck around longer despite Suseri, but Yagami was too delicate to last long. Later Japanese literature seems to suggest that another women’s jealousy was a legitimate cause of death, after all.

That may or may not make modern-day readers feel any more comfortable with Yagami abandoning a baby in the fork of a tree, though. Nevertheless, it seems it was a safe birth, and the child was well-adjusted enough to celebrated as a god of safe births and long life. Ki-no-mata was also known as Mii (referring to a well), and that is why a shrine in Izumo dedicated to him is called Mii Shrine. The three wells on the shrine grounds are said to have the provided the water Yagami used during childbirth. This page has a whole bunch of pretty pictures of the shrine, including of the wells and a statue of Yagami with newborn Ki-no-Mata/Mii.

There are more famous springs associated with Yagami and her journey, though! Those are yet to come.

Continued from Part 4








Onamuji’s adventures will continue in later stories from the Kojiki. In November, be on the look out for photos of places where this story took place, as well as the influence it still has on the San’in region! The white hare is everywhere.

Learn about the sites associated with this legend!
White Hare in Tottori
White Hare in Shimane

Or start reading the next story!
The Kunibiki (land-pulling) legend starts here.
(Or you can skip ahead to Onamuji’s next appearance)

Or see the Kojiki a.t.b.b. masterlist!
The Kojiki Myths in Manga Form