The Story Of Susa The Impetuous
: Japanese Fairy Tales
When Izanagi, the Lord who Invites, turned his back upon the unclean
place, and bade farewell to Yomi, the World of the Dead, whither he had
journeyed upon a quest, he beheld once more the Land of Fresh Rice Ears,
and was glad. And he rested by the side of a clear river that he might
And Izanagi-no-Mikoto bathed in the upper reach. But he said, "The water
of the upper reach is too ra
id." Then he bathed in the lower reach; but
he said, "The water of the lower reach is too sluggish." So he went down
for the third time and bathed in the middle reach of the river. And as
the water dropped from his beautiful countenance there were created
three sublime deities--Ama Terassu, the Glory of High Heaven;
Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami, the Moon-Night-Possessor; and Susa, the Impetuous,
the Lord of the Sea.
Then Izanagi-no-Mikoto rejoiced, saying, "Behold the three august
children that are mine, who shall also be illustrious for ever." And,
taking the great string of jewels from his neck, he bestowed it upon
Ama Terassu, the Glorious, and said to her, "Do Thine Augustness rule
the Plain of High Heaven, shining in thy beauty by day." So she took the
august jewels and hid them in the storehouse of the gods.
And the Lord of Invitation commanded Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami, saying, "Do
Thine Augustness rule the Dominion of the Night." Now this was a youth
of a fair and pleasant countenance.
And to the youngest of the deities, his Augustness the Lord Izanagi gave
the Sea Plain.
So Ama Terassu ruled the day, and Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami softly ruled the
night. But Susa, the Impetuous, flung himself upon the ground and
violently wept, for he said, "Ah, miserable, to dwell for ever upon the
confines of the cold sea!" So he ceased not in his weeping, and took the
moisture of the valley for his tears, so that the green places were
withered and the rivers and streams were dried up. And evil deities
increased and flourished, and as they swarmed upon the earth their noise
was as the noise of flies in the fifth moon; and far and wide there
arose portents of woe.
Then his father, the Lord of Invitation, came and stood terribly by him
and said, "What is this that I do see and hear? Why dost thou not rule
the dominions with which I charged thee, but lie here, like a child,
with tears and wailings? Answer."
And Susa, the Impetuous, answered, "I wail because I am in misery and
love not this place, but would depart to my mother who rules the Nether
Distant Land, who is called the Queen of Yomi, the World of the Dead."
Then Izanagi was wroth and expelled him with a divine expulsion, and
charged him that he should depart and show his face no more.
And Susa, the Impetuous, answered, "So be it. But first I will ascend to
High Heaven to take leave of Her Augustness, my sister, who is the Glory
of Heaven, and then I will depart."
So he went up to Heaven with a noise and a great speed, and at his going
all the mountains shook and every land and country quaked. And Ama
Terassu, the Light of Heaven, she also trembled at his coming, and said,
"This coming of His Augustness, my brother, is of no good intent, but to
lay hold of mine inheritance, and to take it by force. For this alone
does he invade the fastness of High Heaven."
And forthwith she divided the hair that hung upon her shoulders and
rolled it in two august bunches to the left and to the right, and
adorned it with jewels. So she made her head like the head of a young
warrior. And she slung upon her back a great bow and a quiver of arrows,
one thousand and five hundred arrows, and she took in her hand a bamboo
staff and brandished it and stamped upon the ground with her armed feet,
so that the earth flew like powdered snow. So she came to the bank of
the Tranquil River of Heaven and stood valiantly, like unto a mighty
man, and waited.
And Susa, the Impetuous, spoke from the farther bank: "My lovely
sister, Thine Augustness, why comest thou thus armed against me?"
And she answered, "Nay, but wherefore ascendest thou hither?"
And Susa replied, "There is nothing evil in my mind. Because I desired
to dwell in the Land of Yomi, therefore has my father deigned to expel
me with a divine expulsion, and I thought to take leave of thee, and so
I have ascended hither. I have no evil intention."
And she, bending her great eyes on him, said "Swear."
And he swore, by the ten-grasp sword that was girded on him, and after
that he swore by the jewels in her hair. Then she suffered him to cross
over the Tranquil River of Heaven, and also to cross over the Floating
Bridge. So Susa, the Impetuous, entered the dominions of his sister, the
But his wild spirit never ceased to chafe. And he pillaged the fair
lands of Ama Terassu and broke down the divisions of the rice-fields
which she had planted, and filled in the ditches. Still the Light of
Heaven upbraided him not, but said, "His Augustness, my brother,
believes that the land should not be wasted by ditches and divisions,
and that rice should be sown everywhere, without distinction." But
notwithstanding her soft words Susa, the Impetuous, continued in his
evil ways and became more and more violent.
Now, as the great Sun Goddess sat with her maidens in the awful Weaving
Hall of High Heaven, seeing to the weaving of the august garments of
the gods, her brother made a mighty chasm in the roof of the Weaving
Hall, and through the chasm he let down a heavenly piebald horse. And
the horse fled hither and thither in terror, and wrought great havoc
amongst the looms and amongst the weaving maidens. And Susa himself
followed like a rushing tempest and like a storm of waters flooding the
hall, and all was confusion and horror. And in the press the Sun Goddess
was wounded with her golden shuttle. So with a cry she fled from High
Heaven and hid herself in a cave; and she rolled a rock across the
Then dark was the Plain of High Heaven, and black dark the Central Land
of Reed Plains, and eternal night prevailed. Hereupon the voices of the
deities as they wandered over the face of the earth were like unto the
flies in the fifth moon, and from far and near there arose portents of
woe. Therefore did the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities assemble with a
divine assembly in the dry bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven, there to
hold parley, and to make decision what should be done. And His
Augustness the Lord of Deep Thoughts commanded them. So they called
together the Singing Birds of Eternal Night. And they charged
Ama-tsu-mara, the Divine Smith, to make them a mirror of shining white
metal. And they charged Tama-noya-no-mikoto to string together many
hundreds of curved jewels. And, having performed divination by the
shoulder-blade of a stag of Mount Kagu, they uprooted a sacred tree, a
sakaki, of five hundred branches. And they hung the jewels upon the
branches of the tree, and they hung the mirror upon its branches. And
all the lower branches they covered with offerings, streamers of white
and streamers of blue, and they bore the tree before the rock cavern
where the Sun Goddess was. And immediately the assembled birds sang.
Then a divine maiden of fair renown, who for grace and skill in dancing
had no sister, either in the Land of Rice Ears or upon the Plain of High
Heaven, stood before the cavern door. And there was hung about her for a
garland the club moss from Mount Kagu, and her head was bound with the
leaves of the spindle-tree and with flowers of gold and flowers of
silver, and a sheaf of green bamboo-grass was in her hands. And she
danced before the cavern door as one possessed, for heaven and earth
have not seen the like of her dancing. It was more lovely than the
pine-tops waving in the wind or the floating of sea foam, and the cloud
race upon the Plain of High Heaven is not to be compared with it. And
the earth quaked and High Heaven shook, and all the Eight Hundred Myriad
Deities laughed together.
Now Ama Terassu, the Glory of Heaven, lay in the rock cavern, and the
bright light streamed from her fair body in rays, so that she was as a
great jewel of price. And pools of water gleamed in the floor of the
cavern, and the slime upon the walls gleamed with many colours, and the
small rock-plants flourished in the unwonted heat, so that the heavenly
lady lay in a bower and slept. And she awoke because of the song of the
Eternal Singing Birds, and she raised herself and flung the hair back
over her shoulder, and said, "Alack, the poor birds that sing in the
long night!" And there came to her the sound of dancing and of high
revel and of the merriment of the gods, so she was still and listened.
And presently she felt the Plain of High Heaven shake, and heard the
Eight Hundred Myriad Deities as they laughed together. And she arose and
came to the door of the cavern, and rolled back the great stone a little
way. And a beam of light fell upon the dancing maiden where she stood,
panting, in all her array; but the other deities were yet in darkness,
and they looked at each other and were still. Then spoke the Fair Glory
of Heaven: "Methought that because I was hidden the Plain of High Heaven
should be dark, and black dark the Central Land of Reed Plains. How,
then, doth the Dancing Maiden go thus, adorned with garlands and her
head tired? And why do the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities laugh together?"
Then the Dancing Maiden made answer: "O Thine Augustness, that art the
sweet delight of all the deities, behold the divine maidens are decked
with flowers, and the gods assemble with shouts. We rejoice and are glad
because there is a goddess more illustrious than Thine Augustness."
And Ama Terassu heard and was wroth. And she covered her face with her
long sleeves, so that the deities should not see her tears; howbeit,
they fell like the falling stars. Then the youths of the Court of
Heaven stood by the sakaki tree, where hung the mirror that was made
by Ama-tsu-Mara, the Divine Smith. And they cried, "Lady, look and
behold the new paragon of Heaven!"
And Ama Terassu said, "Indeed, I will not behold." Nevertheless, she
presently let slip the sleeves that covered her countenance and looked
in the mirror. And as she looked, and beheld, and was dazzled by her own
beauty, that was without peer, she came forth slowly from the rocks of
the cavern. And the light of her flooded High Heaven, and below the rice
ears waved and shook themselves, and the wild cherry rushed into flower.
And all the deities joined their hands in a ring about Ama Terassu, the
Goddess of the Sun, and the door of the rock cavern was shut. Then the
Dancing Maiden cried, "O Lady, Thine Augustness, how should any Deity be
born to compare with thee, the Glory of Heaven?"
So with joy they bore the goddess to her place.
But Susa, the Swift, the Brave, the Impetuous, the Long-Haired, the
Thrice Unhappy, the Lord of the Sea, him the deities arraigned to stand
trial in the dry bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven. And they took
counsel, and fined him with a great fine. And, having shorn him of his
hair, which was his beauty and his pride (for it was blue-black as an
iris, and hung below his knee), they banished him for ever from the
So Susa descended to earth by the Floating Bridge with bitterness in his
heart, and for many days he wandered in despair, he knew not whither. By
fair rice-fields he came, and by barren moors, heeding nothing; and at
last he stayed to rest by the side of the river called Hi, which is in
the land of Izumo.
And as he sat, moody, his head on his hand, and looked down at the
water, he beheld a chopstick floating on the surface of the stream. So
Susa, the Impetuous, arose immediately, saying, "There are people at the
river head." And he pursued his way up the bank in quest of them. And
when he had gone not a great way, he found an old man weeping and
lamenting very grievously, among the reeds and willows by the
water-side. And there was with him a lady of great state and beauty,
like unto the daughter of a deity; but her fair eyes were marred with
many tears, and she moaned continually and wrung her hands. And these
twain had between them a young maid of very slender and delicate form;
but her face Susa could not see, for she covered it with a veil. And
ever and anon she moved and trembled with fear, or seemed to beseech the
old man earnestly, or plucked the lady by the sleeve; at which these
last but shook their heads sorrowfully, and returned to their
And Susa, full of wonder, drew near and asked the old man, "Who art
And the old man answered, "I am an earthly deity of the mountains. This
is my wife, who weeps with me by the water-side, and the child is my
And Susa inquired of him again, "What is the cause of your weeping and
And he answered, "Know, sir, that I am an earthly deity of renown, and I
was the father of eight fair daughters. But a horror broods over the
land, for every year at this time it is ravaged by a monster, the
eight-forked serpent of Koshi, that delights in the flesh of young
virgins. In seven years have my seven sweet children been devoured. And
now the time of my youngest-born is at hand. Therefore do we weep, O
Then said Susa, the Impetuous, "What is the likeness of this monster?"
And the deities of the mountain made answer: "His eyes are fiery and red
as the akakagachi (that is, the winter cherry). He has but one body,
with eight heads and eight scaly tails. Moreover, on his body grows
moss, together with the fir and the cryptomeria of the forest. In his
going he covers eight valleys and eight hills, and upon his under side
he is red and gory."
Then the Lord Susa, the Impetuous, cried, "My lord, give me thy
And the earthly deity, seeing his strength and great beauty and the
brightness of his countenance, knew that he was a god, and answered,
"With all reverence do I offer her unto thee. Howbeit, I know not thine
And Susa said, "I am Susa, the Sea God, the exile of High Heaven."
And the mountain deity and also his fair wife spoke, saying, "So be it,
Thine Augustness, take the young maid."
And immediately Susa flung away the veil and saw the face of his bride,
pale as the moon in winter. And he touched her on the forehead, and
said, "Fair and beloved, fair and beloved...."
And the maid flushed faintly to stand thus barefaced. Howbeit, she had
little need, for the tears that stood in my lord Susa's eyes were veil
enough for her modesty. And he said again, "Dear and beautiful, our
pleasure shall be hereafter, now we may not tarry."
So he took the young maid at once, and changed her into a crown for his
head. And Susa wore the crown gallantly. And he instructed the earthly
deity, and together they brewed sake, refined eight-fold; and with the
sake they filled eight vats and set them in readiness; and when all
was prepared they waited. And presently there was a mighty noise, like
the sound of an earthquake, and the hills and valleys shook. And the
serpent crawled in sight, huge and horrible, so that the earthly deities
hid their faces for fear. But Susa, the Impetuous, gazed upon the
serpent with his sword drawn.
Now the serpent had eight heads, and immediately he dipped a head into
each vat of sake and drank long. Thereupon he became drunken with the
distilled liquor, and all the heads lay down and slept.
Then the Lord Susa brandished his ten-grasp sword, and leapt upon the
monster and cut off the eight heads with eight valiant strokes. So the
serpent was slain with a great slaying, and the river Hi flowed on, a
river of blood. And Susa cut the tails of the serpent also, and as he
struck the fourth tail the edge of his august sword was turned back. So
he probed with its point, and found a great jewelled sword with a blade
sharp as no known smith could temper it. And he took the sword and sent
it for an offering to the Sun Goddess, his august sister. This is the
And Susa, the Impetuous, built him a palace at the place called Suga,
and dwelt there with his bride. And the clouds of heaven hung like a
curtain round about the palace. Then the Lord Susa sang this song:
"Many clouds arise.
The manifold fence of the forth-issuing clouds
Makes a manifold fence,
For the spouses to be within.
Oh, the manifold fence...."