Chapter Fourteen. Yaegaki-jinja

1

UNTO Yaegaki-jinja, which is in the village of Sakusa in Iu, in the Land of Izumo, all youths and maidens go who are in love, and who can make the pilgrimage. For in the temple of Yaegaki at Sakusa, Take-haya-susa- no-wo-no-mikoto and his wife Inada-hime and their son Sa-ku-sa-no-mikoto are enshrined. And these are the Deities of Wedlock and of Love - and they set the solitary in families - and by their doing are destinies coupled even from the hour of birth. Wherefore one should suppose that to make pilgrimage to their temple to pray about things long since irrevocably settled were simple waste of time. But in what land did ever religious practice and theology agree? Scholiasts and priests create or promulgate doctrine and dogma; but the good people always insist upon making the gods according to their own heart - and these are by far the better class of gods. Moreover, the history of Susano-o the Impetuous Male Deity, does not indicate that destiny had anything to do with his particular case: he fell in love with the Wondrous Inada Princess at first sight - as it is written in the Kojiki:

'Then Take-haya-susa-no-wo-no-mikoto descended to a place called Tori- kami at the headwaters of the River Hi in the land of Idzumo. At this time a chopstick came floating down the stream. So Take-haya-susa-no-wo- no-mikoto, thinking that there must be people at the headwaters of the river, went up it in quest of them. And he came upon an old man and an old woman who had a young girl between them, and were weeping. Then he deigned to ask: "Who are ye?" So the old man replied, saying: "I am an Earthly Deity, son of the Deity Oho-yama-tsu-mi-no-Kami. I am called by the name of Ashi-nadzu-chi; my wife is called by the name of Te-nadzu- chi; and my daughter is called by the name of Kushi-Inada-hime." Again he asked: "What is the cause of your crying?" The old man answered, saying: "I had originally eight young daughters. But the eight-forked serpent of Koshi has come every year, and devoured one; and it is now its time to come, wherefore we weep." Then he asked him: "What is its form like?" The old man answered, saying: "Its eyes are like akaka- gachi; it has one body with eight heads and eight tails. Moreover, upon its body grow moss and sugi and hinoki trees. Its length extends over eight valleys and eight hills; and if one look at its belly, it is all constantly bloody and inflamed." Then Take-haya-susa-no-wo-no-mikoto said to the old man: "If this be thy daughter, wilt thou offer her to me?" He replied: "With reverence; but I know not thine august name." Then he replied, saying: "I am elder brother to Ama-terasu-oho-mi-Kami. So now I have descended from heaven." Then the Deities Ashi-nadzu-chi and Te-nadzu-chi said: "If that be so, with reverence will we offer her to thee." So Take-haya-susa-no-wo-no-mikoto, at once taking and changing the young girl into a close-toothed comb, which he stuck into his august hair-bunch, said to the Deities Ashi-nadzu-chi and Te-nadzu-chi: "Do you distil some eightfold refined liquor. Also make a fence round about; in that fence make eight gates; at each gate tie a platform; on each platform put a liquor-vat; and into each vat pour the eightfold refined liquor, and wait." So as they waited after having prepared everything in accordance with his bidding, the eight-forked serpent came and put a head into each vat and drank the liquor. Thereupon it was intoxicated, and all the heads lay down and slept. Then Take-haya-susa-no-wo-nomikoto drew the ten-grasp sabre that was augustly girded upon him, and cut the serpent in pieces, so that the River Hi flowed on changed into a river of blood.

'Then Take-haya-susa-no-wo-no-mikoto sought in the Land of Idzumo where he might build a palace.

'When this great Deity built the palace, clouds rose up thence. Then he made an august song:

'Ya-kumo tatsu: Idzumo ya-he-gaki; Tsuma-gomi ni Ya-he-gaki-tsukuru: Sono ya-he-gaki wo!' [1]

Now the temple of Yaegaki takes its name from the words of the august song Ya-he-gaki, and therefore signifies The Temple of the Eightfold Fence. And ancient commentators upon the sacred books have said that the name of Idzumo (which is now Izumo), as signifying the Land of the Issuing of Clouds, was also taken from that song of the god. [2]

2

Sakusa, the hamlet where the Yaegaki-jinja stands, is scarcely more than one ri south from Matsue. But to go there one must follow tortuous paths too rough and steep for a kuruma; and of three ways, the longest and roughest happens to be the most interesting. It slopes up and down through bamboo groves and primitive woods, and again serpentines through fields of rice and barley, and plantations of indigo and of ginseng, where the scenery is always beautiful or odd. And there are many famed Shinto temples to be visited on the road, such as Take-uchi-jinja, dedicated to the venerable minister of the Empress Jingo, Take-uchi, to whom men now pray for health and for length of years; and Okusa-no-miya, or Rokusho-jinja, of the five greatest shrines in Izumo; and Manaijinja, sacred to Izanagi, the Mother of Gods, where strange pictures may be obtained of the Parents of the World; and Obano-miya, where Izanami is enshrined, also called Kamoshijinja, which means, 'The Soul of the God.'