How the Sun Goddess Was Enticed Out of Her Cave (Japanese Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, Japanese Folk Tales6485

When the far-shining goddess, on account of the evil pranks of her brother, Susa no O, the Ruler of the Moon, hid herself in a cave, there was no more light, and heaven and earth were plunged into darkness.

A council of all the gods was held in the dry bed of one of the rivers [which we call the Milky Way] in the fields of Heaven. The question of how to appease the anger of the goddess was discussed. A long-headed and very wise god was ordered to think out a plan to entice her forth from the cave.

After due deliberation, it was resolved that a looking-glass should be made to tempt her to gaze at herself, and that tricks should be played to arouse her curiosity to come out and see what was going on.

So setting to work with a will, the gods forged and polished a mirror, wove cloth for beautiful garments, built a pavilion, carved a necklace of jewels, made wands, and tried an augury.

All being ready, the fat and rosy-cheeked goddess of mirth with face full of dimples, and eyes full of fun, named Uzumé, was selected to lead the dance. She had a flute made from a bamboo cane by piercing holes between the joints, while every god in the great orchestra had a pair of flat hard wood clappers, which he struck together.

She bound up her long flowing sleeves with a creeper vine, and made for herself a baton of twigs of bamboo grass, by which she could direct the motions of the musicians. This she held in one hand while in the other was a spear wound round with grass, on which small bells tinkled. Great bonfires were lighted in front of the cave, so that the audience of gods could see the dance. A large circular box which resounded like a drum when trod on, was set up for Uzumé to dance upon. The row of cocks now began to crow in concert.

All being ready, the Strong-handed god who was to pull the sun-goddess out of the cave, as soon as overcome by her curiosity she should peep forth, hid himself beside the stone door of the cave. Uzumé mounted the box and began to dance. As the drum-box resounded, the spirit of folly seized her, and she began to chant a song.

Becoming still more foolish, Uzumé waved her wand wildly, loosened her dress, and danced till she had not a stitch of clothing left on her. The gods were so amused at her foolishness that they all laughed, until the heavens shook as with claps of thunder.

The Sun-goddess within the cave heard all these strange noises; the crowing of the cocks, the hammering on the anvil, the chopping of wood, the music of the koto, the clappering of the hard wood, the tinkling of the bells, the shouting of Uzumé and the boisterous laughter of the gods. Wondering what it all meant, she peeped out.

As she did so the Doubly Beautiful goddess held up the mirror.

The Far-Shining one seeing her own face in it was greatly astonished. Curiosity got the better of fear. She looked far out. Instantly the strong-handed god pulled the rocky door open, and seizing her hand, dragged her forth. Then all the heavens and earth were lightened, the trees and grass became green again, and the goddess of colors resumed her work of tinting the flowers. The gloom fled from all eyes, and human beings again became “white-faced.”

Thus the calamity which had befallen heaven and earth, by the sun-goddess hiding in the cave became a means of much benefit to mortals. For by their necessity the gods were compelled to invent the arts of metal-working, weaving, carpentry, jeweling and many other useful appliances for the human race. They also on this occasion first made use of music, dancing, the Dai Kagura (The comedy which makes the gods laugh) and many of the games which the children play at the present time.

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