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Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Kami in Classic Texts
Okinagatarashihime
[Okinaga tarashihime no mikoto] (Kojiki
Other names: Ōtarashihime



A reference to the legendary Empress Jingū, consort of Emperor Chūai. According to Kojiki and Nihongi, during a campaign to subdue the indigenous Kumaso people, the empress received a divine oracle instructing the emperor to conquer the Korean kingdom of Silla. Following the death of Chūai, the empress went herself to conquer the Korean peninsula even though pregnant with her child, the next emperor Ōjin. Upon her triumphant return, she gave birth to Ōjin at Kyushu, then returned to the capital where she killed Ōjin's elder half-brother by a different mother, and personally took the reigns of government. In the background to the legendary material is believed to lie some factual events in the Korean peninsula during the latter part of the fourth century C.E. Numerous other legends are associated with the empress, including the story that at the time she was about to leave on the Korean campaign, she delayed her approaching labor by placing a rock in her girdle, and that she augured her impending victory by catching a smelt.

In the medieval period, the legend was influenced by the Buddhist doctrine of honji suijaku ("original essence, manifest traces"); legendary shrine histories (engi) of the Kashii, Usa, Kōra, Aso and other Hachiman shrines in Kyushu claim that the empress was the wife or daughter of the dragon king Sagara, and that she sent envoys to the dragon palace in the ocean to retrieve precious jewels called mitsutama and hirutama, whereupon she achieved victory in battle. Other legends relate that she herself returned to the dragon palace at the time of the birth of the "Great Bodhisattva Hachiman" (Ōjin). She is enshrined at the Kashiigū in Fukuoka, the Sumiyoshi Taisha in Ōsaka, and at numerous other Hachiman shrines throughout the country.

-Kadoya Atsushi
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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