Amenohiboko (アメノヒボコ)

Amenohiboko is a deity in Japanese mythology, who appears in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan). He was a prince of Silla (an ancient Korean kingdom).

His great-grandson was Tajimamori, a deity of sweets. Tajimamori's daughter was Katsuraginotakanukahime no mikoto, the mother of Okinagatarashihime no mikoto (Empress Jingu). Additionally, some say that Amenohiboko might have been connected to Koko, a Japanese retainer believed to have served Korean kings and help them found Silla.

In any event, his name, which contains the Chinese character of '天' (heaven), suggests that he may have been closely connected to the ancestors of the imperial family (just like deities in Takamanohara (heaven)).
There was no other prince from foreign countries whose name contained the Chinese character of '天.'


Kojiki describes Amenohiboko as follows;
A long time ago, in Silla, a woman was taking a nap near a pond called "Agunuma." Then, a ray of sunlight fell on her private parts like a rainbow. Immediately, she became pregnant and gave birth to a red jewel. A man, who was watching this, pleaded with her to give him the jewel, received it from her, and carried it with him all the time. One day, he met Amenohiboko when carrying food to a mountain using a ox. Hiboko, who assumed that the man was going to kill and eat the ox, arrested him to put him in jail. The man tried to explain however Hiboko would not forgive him. So, he showed him the red jewel that he had been carrying all the time. In exchange for the jewel, he was finally pardoned. When he brought the jewel back home and put it on the floor, it turned into a beautiful lady.

He made her his lawful wife, and she served delicious dishes for him every day. One day, however, Hiboko became arrogant and bitterly badmouthed her. Frustrated, his wife ran away from him, saying that she would go back to her parents' country. She arrived at Himegoso-jinja Shrine (Higashinari Ward, Osaka City, now Shitateruhime, a daughter of Okuninushi, is enshrined) near Naniwa tsu (today's Osaka Port) by boat. Hiboko, who was repentant, came all the way to Japan, chasing his wife. His wife's name was Akaru hime. But he could not meet her in the end because the deity that ruled the Naniwa straits was in the way. He came ashore on a beach in Tajima Province, and eventually, got married to a local girl, Maetsumi.


In spring (March) of the third year of Emperor Suinin's reign, Amenohiboko, a prince from Silla came to Japan. He brought with him eight kinds of sacred treasures: Hafuto-no-tama jewels, Ashitaka-no-tama jewels, red stones, swords, pikes, mirrors, and Kuma no himorogi (a temporarily erected sacred space or an altar used as a locus of worship). He finally reached Deishi in Tajima Province after travelling though Harima, Omi, and Wakasa Provinces, and settled there, making a local girl, Matao, his wife.

These treasures might have been the tools of Korean settlers for worshipping the sun god. His name, 'Hiboko,' itself means a pike, which was used in rituals to worship the sun god. The pike was also considered to be Yorishiro (an object a divine spirit resides in). The province mentioned here came under strong influence from Korean settlers. In Tajima Province where Hiboko settled, he has been believed to be the deity of land development and still deeply worshipped by people. This helps us conclude that Amenohiboko was a deity worshipped by Korean settlers in Deishi.

Sacred treasures

According to "Kojiki," there were eight kinds of treasures: two types of jewels, Namifuru no hire (shawl to calm the wave), Namikiru no hire (shawl to cut the wave), Kazefuru no hire (shawl to calm the wind), Kazekiru no hire (shawl to cut the wind), Okitsu-kagami mirror, and Hetsu-kagami mirror. These treasures are enshrined as deities in Izushi-jinja Shrine (Izushi-cho, Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture), together with Amenohiboko. All of these were tools used to pray for the wind and waves in the ocean to die down. This represents a combined form of faith in the sea god by people who lived and worked on the seas and worship for Amenohiboko.

Harima no kuni-fudoki (a description of the climate and culture of Harima Province)

In Harima no kuni-fudoki, Amenohiboko is referred to as Amenohiboko no mikoto and described as a deity who came from a foreign country and settled in Japan in the age of the gods. He fought over the land with Ashiharashikoo no mikoto (葦原志挙乎命) (Ashiharashikoo no mikoto (葦原志許乎命)), who are enshrined in Iwa-jinja Shrine.
(Both of them were regarded as identical to Okuninushi (the chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan).)
The descriptions of ages and whether there was contention or not in the fudoki are not necessarily consistent with those of Kojiki or Nihonshoki.

In this fudoki, contention is described in the local tales of Ibo, Shiso, and Kanzaki Counties. They put an end to the contention by leaving the decision to the result obtained by throwing three black ivy vines. The result was that one of the three vines thrown by Ashiharashikoo no mikoto fell in Harima and the rest fell in Tajima, whereas all of the three vines thrown by Amenohiboko no mikoto dropped in Tajima. This forced Amenohiboko to retreat to Deishi, Tajima. As his name, 'boko' (= 'hiko,' meaning a pike), suggests, Amenohiboko-no-mikoto was related to iron-making. This may imply that there was contention for iron between indigenous and foreign people.


According to "Nihonshoki," Tsunugaarashito, a prince of Kaya (an ancient Korean kingdom) came to Japan before Amenohiboko. In it, he is depicted as the hero of the tale mentioned here earlier, who came all the way to Japan to chase his wife, Akaruhime. But he is said to have returned to his country after three years in Japan. Additionally, according to "Shinsen Shojiroku" (Newly Compiled Register of Clan Names and Titles of Nobility), Shimizu no obito and Ochi no obito in Sakyo-shoban, and Hekita no obito in Yamato Province-shoban were his descendents.

[Original Japanese]