Y Is For: Yamata No Orochi

Name: Yamata No Orochi / Serpent Of Izumo / Dragon Of Izumo

Origin: Japan (Shinto)

Type: Dragon / Serpent

Story:

Yamata no Orochi was vast serpentine dragon the size of eight hills and eight valleys, possessing eight heads and eight tails. The Orochi resided in the Izumo province, terrorizing the country side and demanding a sacrifice of the ruling family. They were required to sacrifice one of their daughters per year to keep themselves from destruction. Upon the eighth year the husband and wife found themselves weeping by a river with their very last daughter, knowing what was soon to come. However, the god of storms, Susanoo, appeared. He had been exiled from the heavenly plain for playing a trick upon his sister Amaterasu, the Sun goddess and ruler of all beings.

Susanoo took a liking to the daughter, Kushinada-hime, and asked her to marry him. Upon acceptance her turned her into a comb and placed her in his hair so that she would be safe. He then instructed the family to make a batch of Sake that was purified eight times and place it into eight giant vats, before which were eight gates. When the massive beast appeared and began to search for the final daughter it came upon the Sake and stuck its eight heads through each of the gates and drank its fill. Becoming drunk, Yamata no Orochi was greatly weakened. Susanoo wielding the sword Totsuka No Tsurugi (a very powerful blade belonging to his father, Izanagi, the creator of Japan) struck down each of the heads and eventually killed Yamata No Orochi.

Within the core of the corpse, Susanoo found the noble sword Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (known now as Kusanagi No Tsurugi). Taking the sword, Susanoo headed back to the heavenly plains and presented it as a gift to Amaterasu so that she would forgive him. Kusanagi No Tsurugi would eventually be known as one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. Today all three of these items are in the possession of the Japanese Emperor, the other two being the magical mirror Yata no Kagami and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama.

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