Takeminakata no kami (建御名方神)

Takeminakata no kami is a god who appeared in the Japanese mythology (Shinto religion). He appeared as the son of Okuninushi (chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan, and the central character in the important cycle of myths set in that region) at the column of Ashihara no Nakatsukuniheitei (Suppression of the land of Japan) in "Kojiki" (Records of Ancient Matters). He is counted among three major Japanese gods of war, together with Takemikazuchi and Futsunushi no kami. His name is also expressed as Minakatatomi no kami in "Engishiki jinmyocho" (the list of shrines, or "Engishiki").

When the deity Takemikazuchi no kami pressed Okuninushi to hand over the land of Japan, Okuninushi said that his son, Kotoshiro nushi (a Japanese ancient god), would reply. When Kotoshiro nushi accepted it, Okuninushi said that Takeminakata no kami would reply next. Takeminakata no kami offered a contest of strength to Takemikazuchi no kami, whereupon he grabbed the hand of Takemikazuchi no kami. Then, the hands of Takemikazuchi no kami turned into ice and a sword. Takeminakata no kami was scared by that; he ran away but was finally cornered at Lake Suwa, in Shinano Province. When Takemikazuchi no kami tried to kill Takeminakata no kami, Takeminakata no kami begged 'Please don't kill me, as I will never leave this place,' and then surrendered to Takemikazuchi no kami. It is said in tradition that the contest of strength between Takemikazuchi no kami and Takeminakata no kami became the origin of Sumo wrestling. This myth is only found in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and his name isn't found in the part corresponding to the Ashihara no Nakatsukuniheitei in "Nihon Shoki" (Chronicles of Japan).

According to the tradition left in "Suwa Daimyojin Ekotoba" (literally, the origin in pictures and scripts of Suwa Daimyojin Shrine), etc, it is said that Takeminakata no kami was the god who came from outside the Suwa region, defeated the native god of Moriya-shin and became an enshrined deity of the Suwa region. It is said that at the time of the battle, Moriya-shin fought with an iron ring in his hand while Takeminakata no kami held a wisteria (a plant) vine; thus there is an opinion that this fight implied the match of iron-casting technologies.

Takeminakata no kami is enshrined at Suwa-jinja Shrines throughout Japan, including Suwa-taisha Shrine (Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture). He is known as a god of war, as written in the "Ryojin hisho" (folk song collection) of 'Kashima-jingu Shrine, Katori-jingu Shrine and Suwa no miya Shrine (Suwa-Taisha Shrine) and moreover, he is also considered to be an agricultural god and a hunting god. He is also said to be a god of wind, and there is a tradition that it was the god of Suwa who caused Kamikaze (wind of god) at the time of the Mongolian Invasion. Part of his name "minakata" means "lagoon," and it is thought that he was originally the god of water and rain. However, there are opinions that "minakata" has a relationship to "Munakata" (the geographical name of northern Kyushu) or that he is the god of metallurgy.

Like the above, he is described in many ways despite the traditional story of disgrace. There is also an opinion that because NAKATOMI no Kamatari was from Kashima and the Fujiwara clan, which were descended from him revered Takemikazuchi no kami as their ujigami (a guardian god of a particular place or family in the Shinto religion), they demeaned the reputation of Takeminakata no kami in order to raise the military prestige of Takemikazuchi no kami.

Japanese mythological history has no record regarding his origin, but theories that he was a child of Okuninushi and Nunakawa-hime remain in many parts of Japan. His wife was said to be Yasakatome no kami.

Takeminakata no kami was said to be the ancestor of the Miwa clan; thus he is the ujigami of Suwashinto (Suwa shintoist group), such as the Suwa and Hoshina clans, who are descendants of the Miwa clan.

[Original Japanese]