Kinu (金烏)

Kinu is a story of a bird with three legs in the sun; it refers to the bird (kau) and the sun. The opposite story was gyokuto (jade rabbit).

Yatagarasu (a big Japanese mythological crow) is related to the Kinu story, and it is a story with the motif of a crow in the sun (mainly a crow), that was seen around the world. It may be regarded as a symbol of sun worship.

In Japan, many tales have been told at shrines that are related to Izumo. The enshrined deity, Kamo Taketsunumi no mikoto in Shimogamo-jinja Shrine is an incarnation of yatagarasu, and he guided the Emperor Jinmu by turning himself into a golden kite (also called yatagarasu) under the ordinance of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) and Takamimusubi at the time of Jimmu tosei (the first generation of the Imperial family). According to the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan), Arima-Onsen Hot Spring that is said to have existed since the age of the gods, was discovered when Onamuchi no mikoto and Sukunahikona no Mikoto saw that three injured birds were cured after those birds went into the water. According to the story the number of birds was similar to the number of yatagarasu, therefore the three birds might have been yatagarasu.

The bronze ware (called seidoshinju) unearthed from Sanseitai-iseki Remains in the region of Chinese Chang Jiang Culture has nine birds representing suns perching on a tree, and according to ancient mythology, the eight birds were already dead and the last bird which represented the current sun was almost dead (offerings were already made). In "Sengaikyo" (oldest topography of China), the tree top the birds were perching on was `fusang' (pictorial motifs), and the tree was the `god tree', and the upper branch is where the ninth sun is to perch while the lower branch was for the first sun which was about to come out, which identified an inconsistency between them. Since some trunks in the unearthed bronze ware were not restored, another bird might have been there.

[Original Japanese]