Okuninushi (大国主)

Okuninushi is a god that appears in a type of Japanese mythology called Izumo Shinwa (Myths of Izumo). While Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) symbolizes the sky, Okuninushi symbolizes the earth.

Other names

Okuninushi is called by many different names. It is always explained in terms of the virtue of Okuninushi, but it is also attributed to the fact that Okuninushi is a result of integrating different gods.

Okuninushi no Kami:

Okuninushi no Kami means an emperor that governs a large country or the lord of Ou. Therefore, there has been a theory that Okuninushi no Kami was the lord of Ou (an area in the eastern part of Izumo Province).

Onamuji no Kami, Oanamochi no Mikoto, and Onamuchi no Mikoto:

These are the names used by the young Okuninushi.

Onamuchi no Mikoto:

Onamuchi is another one of Okuninushi's names used in "Harima no Kuni Fudoki" (the Topography of Harima Province).

Onamochi no Mikoto

Yachihoko no Kami:

A hoko (long-handled Chinese spear) as in Yachihoko symbolizes military power and the name Yachihoko no Kami therefore expresses Okuninushi as a bushin (the god of war).

Ashihara no Shikoo, Ashihara Shikonoo no Kami

The term 'shikonoo' means a strong man, and these names therefore express Okuninushi as a bushin.


Okunitama no Okami

Utsushikunitama no Kami (written as 顕国玉神 or 宇都志国玉神)

Kunitsukurionamuchi no Mikoto, Iwaokami, and Iwa-jinja Shrine no Kami:

These are the names used in "Harima no Kuni Fudoki."

Amenoshitatsukurashishi Okami:

It is an honorific title used in "Izumo no Kuni Fudoki" (the Topography of Izumo Province).

Kakurigotoshiroshimesu Okami

Place of origin and achievements

According to the main body of "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), Okuninushi was a son of Susanoo (a deity in Japanese Mythology). Also, according to "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters), Arufumi (supplement volumes of explanatory notes in Nihonshoki) of "Nihonshoki" and "Shinsen Shojiroku" (Newly Compiled Register of Clan Names and Titles of Nobility), Okuninushi was described as the sixth-generation grandson of Susanoo, while he was described as the seventh-generation grandson in a different volume of "Nihonshoki."

Taking over the work of Susanoo, Okuninushi worked with Sukunabikona to control the country, taught kinen (incantations) and medicine, and completed the creation of Ashihara no Nakatsukuni (a word to express the country or a location in Japan). Okuninushi then gave the country to Tenson Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu Omikami, withdrew to the land of Kizuki, and later was enshrined at Izumo Taisha Shrine.

Some parts of "Kojiki" contain a tale of Inaba no shirousagi (the hare of Inaba), a tale of a visit to Nenokuni (Land of the Roots), and the marital relationship with Nunakawa-Hime, and other parts of "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki" contain myths of kunizukuri (creation of the country) and kunizukuri (transfer of the land). According to the anecdote of the origin of the name of the place called Mori-go, Ou-gun (currently Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture), in "Izumo no Kuni Fudoki," Onamochi no Mikoto (Okuninushi) vanquished 'Yamata no Orochi' (big snake with eight heads) and on the way home declared transfer of the land.

Inaba no shirousagi
Myths of Okuninushi (persecution of yasogami (many gods), a visit to Nenokuni (Land of the Roots), and a commuting marital relationship)
Creation of the country by Okuninushi
Conquest of Ashihara no Nakatsukuni

Wives and descendents

Okuninushi and many different goddesses had many children. Okuninushi had 180 child gods according to Kojiki and 181 according to Nihonshoki.

None of the mythologies above mentioned Suseri-Bime, who was a daughter of Susanoo and Okuninushi's legal wife.

The mythologies above also did not mention Nunagawahime no Mikoto (Nunakawa-Hime) of Koshi no Kuni (Land of Koshi); however, there has been a myth that Takeminakata no Kami, who was mentioned as a child of Okuninushi at the time of conquest of Ashihara no Nakatsukuni, was a child born to Okuninushi and Nunagawahime no Mikoto.

Kinomata no Kami was born to Okuninushi and his first wife, Yagami-Hime.

Ajisukitakahikone (Kamo no Okami) and Taka-Hime (Shitateru-Hime) were born to Okuninushi and Takiri-Bime, who was one of the Munakata Sanjojin (three goddesses enshrined at Munakata Taisha shrine).

Kotoshironushi no Kami was born to Okuninushi and Kamuyatate-Hime.

Torinarumi was born to Okuninushi and Totori-Hime, who was a daughter of Yashimamuji. After Torinarumi, there was a record of nine generations of the Torinarumi genealogy.

Ayato-Hime from Uka-go, Izumo-gun, rejected Okuninushi's love.
She rejected him because Suseri-Bime (his legal wife) was a very jealous goddess and also because Yagami-Hime (the first wife), imagining the intensity of jealousy of Suseri-Bime, abandoned her child in Naoe, Hikawa-cho, and returned to her hometown, Inaba, and these reasons were described in 'Izumo Fudoki.'

Worship and tradition

Okuninushi has been worshipped as a god of building nations, agriculture, commerce, and medicine. Also, because the first two Chinese characters of Okuninushi can also be pronounced as 'daikoku' Okuninushi has been syncretized with Daikokuten (Mahakala or Daikoku-sama) that shares that pronunciation and has been accepted in the beliefs of the common people. Because Kotoshironushi no Kami, who was a child of Okuninushi, has been syncretized with Ebisu, Daikoku-sama and Ebisu came to be believed as being a parent and a child.

Shrines dediated to Okuninushi

The most famous shrine that enshrines Okuninushi is Izumo Taisha Shrine (Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture), and other examples are Omiwa-jinja Shrine (Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture), Kita Taisha Shrine (Hakui City, Ishikawa Prefecture), Keta-hongu Shrine (Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture), Okunitama-jinja Shrine (Fuchu City, Tokyo Prefecture), and Izumo-jinja Shrines across the country.

Temples dediated to Okuninushi or Daikokuten is enshrined

Senso-ji Temple (Taito Ward, Tokyo): Komebitsu Daikoku of Asakusameisho Shichifukujin
Hoshaku-ji Temple (Daikoku Tenpo-ji Temple) (Oyamazaki-cho, Otokuni-gun, Kyoto Prefecture): Oyamazaki Daikokuten of Kyoto Rokudaikokuten
Myoen-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture): Matsugasaki Daikokuten of Miyako Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune)
Anraku-ji Temple (Gamagori City) (Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture): Mikawa Shichifukujin
Fumon-ji Temple (Toyohashi City) (Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture): Yoshida Shichifukujin
Fukukai-ji Temple (Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture), one of the Settsu-no-Kuni temples: Yanagihara Daikokuten of Hyogo Shichifukujin

[Original Japanese]