Homutsuwake no mikoto (誉津別命)

Homutsuwake no mikoto (誉津別命: year of birth and death unknown) was a member of the Imperial family (Royal family), who appears in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan). In the Nihonshoki, his name is written as 誉津別命, while in the Kojiki, it is written as 本牟都和気命 or 本牟智和気命. In a itsubun (unknown or lost writings) of "Owari no Kuni Fudoki" (Records of the culture and geography of the Owari Province), his name is written as 品津別皇子. He was the first Imperial Prince of Emperor Suinin. His mother was Sahohime no mikoto (Hikoimasu no miko's daughter).


The origin of his name, according to the Kojiki, derived from the story that he was born in the middle of the flames burning the Inagi Castle, whereby his mother named him Homuchiwake no miko (son born through the flames). His mother Sahohime no mikoto killed herself, involved in the rebellion (Rebellion of Sahohime no mikoto and Sahohiko no miko) touched off by her elder brother Sahohiko no miko. According to the Nihonshoki, he had been already born when the rebellion was initiated, and the same as described in the Kojiki, he was rescued from the fire. Some people point out that the delivery scene in the fire has a certain similarity with the ukei (pledge) of Princess Konohanano sakuyahime.

Homutsuwake no mikoto was deeply loved by his father, but although he grew up and even had the beard long enough to reach his breast, he did not speak a word, and moreover, according to the Nihonshoki, he kept only crying like a baby.

Until he spoke words

According to the Nihonshoki, one day when the Imperial Prince saw a kugui (present swan) flying in the sky, he spoke, for the first time, the words 'what is it?'
The Emperor was pleased and ordered to capture the kugui (swan). Ikawadana (the ancestor of Totori no miyatsuko) captured the swan in Izumo Province (in Tajima Province according to another document) and presented the bird to the Imperial Prince, then, Prince Homutsuwake no mikoto became able to speak out while playing with the swan. It is said that, hereto, Totoribe (unit of bird capturing), Torikaibe (unit of bird rearing), and Homutsube (unit serving Prince Homutsu) were set up.

On the other hand, the Kojiki offered more detailed descriptions on the Homutsuwake no mikoto's myth. The Emperor made a boat with two hulls by cutting a two truncal Japanese cedar in Owari Province, and took it to the capital to play with the prince, launching it on the Ichishi Pond and Karonoike Pond. One day, as the Emperor saw the prince try to say something, looking at a kugui (swan) flying in the sky, he ordered to capture that kugui. The kugui (swan) was finally captured, after it had traveled far over Kii Province, Harima Province, Inaba Province, Tanba Province, Tajima Province, Omi Province, Mino Province, Owari Province, Shinano Province, and Koshi Province. However, the prince did not speak a word, even after having the kugui (swan).
One night, the Emperor dreamed about a man who said, 'if you reconstruct and make my palace like the palace where you, the Emperor, are living, the Prince will be able to speak.'
Then, the Emperor ordered to practice a scapulimancy to find the identity of the person he had dreamed about, and it was revealed that the Prince's illocution (impaired speech) was the curse of Izumo no Okami (Great God of Izumo). Then, the Emperor sent the Prince to Izumo with Aketatsu no o and Unakami no o to make them bow to Okami, and the Prince recovered the speech. On his way back, the Prince got married to Hinagahime, however, when he glimpsed her body and found that she was a snake, the terrified Prince scurried away. Then, Hinagahime chased after him casting a light over the sea, and the Prince, caught by terror even more, drew up the ship and ran back to Yamato.
The Emperor, who was delighted to know that the Prince was able to speak, ordered Unakami no o to go back to Izumo and construct a new Okami's shrine
And the Emperor also set up the units (called 'be') to serve the Prince, such as Totoribe (unit of bird capturing), Torikaibe (unit of bird rearing), Homuchi (unit of attendants for the prince in a trip to Izumo), Oyue (unit to serve the prince to take a bath), Wakayue (another unit to serve the prince to take a bath).

In addition, according to a Itsubun (lost or unknown writings) of "Owari no kuni Fudoki" (Records of the culture and geography of the Owari Province), a text written with reference to "Shaku Nihongi" (an annotated text of the Nihonshoki), the Prince's impaired speech was a curse of Amanomikatsuhime. According to it, Homutsuwake no mikoto was not able to speak even at the age of seven, and one day in a dream dreamed by the Empress, Amanomikatsuhime, the female deity of Tagu Province, appeared and said, 'I haven't had any Hafuri (a subordinate priest) yet, if you sent someone who would undertake a religious service for me, the Prince would be able to speak and would live longer'. Then, the Emperor ordered Takeoka no kimi, who was the ancestor of Hiokibe (a family unit undertaking religious service) and other families, to have a divine prophecy of the whereabouts of this deity.
Takeoka no kimi went to Mt. Hanashika in Mino Province, to practice ukei (pledge), wearing a kazura (chaplet) (hair accessory) made by herself with branches of sakaki (Cleyera ochnacea), and said, 'the deity can be found where this kazura (chaplet) falls to land.'
Then, as the kazura flew in the air and landed in Niwa Country, Owari Province, Takeoka no kimi constructed a shrine there, since then the place where the shrine was constructed has been called Azura no sato (Village of Azura), phonetically modified from the word 'kazura' (chaplet).

Tagu Province is considered to have existed along the basin of Taku River in Izumo Province, and Amanomikatsuhime is said to have been the same goddess as Amanomikatsuhime (or Amenomikajijhime featuring in the 'tale of Mt. Kannabi of Tatenui Country') who appears in the section of Inunosato, Aika County in "Izumo no kuni Fudoki" (Records of the culture and geography of the Izumo Province).

In the mythology, these tales are compared to 'the myth of Susanoo' in the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki, in which Susanoo was said to be crying all the time even after he had arrived at manhood, and to 'the myth of Azisukitakahikone' in the Izumo no kuni Fudoki, in which Azisukitakahikone was not able to speak.

[Original Japanese]