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Sarutahiko Ohkami

by Lisa Tonecek
The Japanese god of crossroads, pathways, and surmounting obstacles. He stands seven fathoms tall, with a massive beard and a jeweled spear. Holy light shines from his eyes, mouth, and posterior. Sarutahiko is the chief of the earthly kami and the husband of Ama-no-Uzume no Mikoto, the goddess of mirth, dancing, wifery, and health. He guards the bridge that links the heavens and the earth.

When Ninigi no Mikoto, the August Grandson of Amaterasu Ohmikami, was preparing to descend to the earth and take possession of it, his scouts found that one earthly god remained rebellious and would not submit to Ninigi's rule. This was Sarutahiko, and as he guarded the Bridge of Heaven, Ninigi could not descend until the giant god swore fealty to him.

The gods of heaven called council and asked for a volunteer to go forth and subdue Sarutahiko. None of the male deities volunteered, so Ama-no-Uzume stated that she would go. Being the bold and independent sort, she removed her arms from the sleeves of her kimono and let the robe drop to her waist, leaving her breasts exposed. She descended to earth and found Sarutahiko walking along a path. He was surprised to see a half-naked goddess walking towards him, arms akimbo, with a very stern look on her face.

Having gotten his attention, Ama-no-Uzume insisted that he swear fealty to Ninigi and to Amaterasu, his grandmother. So impressed was Sarutahiko by the goddess' boldness that he immediately obeyed the command and at the same time asked her to be his wife. The two lived out their days and were entombed at the site of what is now Tsubaki Dai Jinja in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The shrine has been in continual operation for more than 2000 years, and was given its current name by Emperor Nintoku, the son of Ojin.


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