The Case of Theft of Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙剣盗難事件)

The case of theft of Kusanagi no tsurugi (alternate name for Ama-no-Murakumo no Tsurugi, the sword of the Imperial regalia) occurred in 668. Kusanagi no tsurugi, an object of worship in Atsuta-jingu Shrine, was stolen in the case.

Circumstances Behind the Case

There is a description as follows in the history of Emperor Tenchi of "Nihon Shoki" (Chronicles of Japan) regarding the case in 668: This year the priest Dogyo stole Kusanagi no tsurugi; he fled to Silla (ancient Korean kingdom), but he had stormy weather on his way, got lost and turned back. The priest Dogyo stole Kusanagi no tsurugi; he fled to Silla. But he had stormy weather on his way.
He got lost and turned back.'
(This year the priest Dogyo stole Kusanagi no tsurugi.)
(He fled to Silla, but had stormy weather on his way, got lost and turned back.)
It described as this.

The shrine's biography of Atsuta-jingu Shrine showed that when Silla's priest Dogyo visited the Atsuta-jingu Shrine, he trespassed on the shrine through Seisetsu Gate and stole the Kusanagi no tsurugi.
(The Seisetsu Gate has been closed since this case, and called 'Akazu no Mon' [a never-opened gate].)
It is the same as the description in "Nihon Shoki" that although Dogyo tried to come back to his homeland Silla carrying the Kusanagi no tsurugi with him, the storm prevented him from doing so.

According to the shrine's biography, Dogyo was held in captivity, and the Kusanagi no tsurugi was kept in the Imperial Court after that. In 686 the Kusanagi no tsurugi was returned to the Atsuta-jingu Shrine. However, this seemed to be prompted by the fact that Emperor Tenmu got sick by the curse of the Kusanagi no tsurugi (realistically because of the pressure and rebellion from the Atsuta-jingu Shrine), and that Emperor Tenmu passed away.

According to a rumor, Hanaten, the name of a place in Osaka City, derived from the episode that Dogyo scared of divine punishment (storm) threw out the Kusanagi no tsurugi there (the Japanese word Hanatsu means to throw out something and the word Hanatsu turned into Hanate then Hanaten), and there is Ajihayao-jinja Shrine there which handed down the tradition.

Career of Dogyo
Dogyo is said to be a descendant of a royal family in Silla. Dogyo stole the Kusanagi no tsurugi because he thought that if the wonder-working of the sword became Silla's possessions, its divine power would help Silla to be a great power.

It is believed that after the arrest, Dogyo was beheaded in Hakata, or that he was absolved and founded Hokai-ji Temple in Chita City, Aichi Prefecture.

According to a theory, if it was true that Dogyo was discharged as previously described, there was a possibility that Emperor Tenmu performed his own work in this case. In other words, the side of Emperor Tenmu bribed Dogyo into stealing for the purpose of recovering the Kusanagi no tsurugi which YAMATO Takeru no Mikoto left in the care of Miyazu Hime at his own discretion, resulting in letting go of. In this case, Emperor Tenmu gave Dogyo his approval to erect Hokai-ji Temple as rewards for his work. Indeed this theory may help dissipate the unnaturalness that Emperor Tenmu possessed the Kusanagi no tsurugi for 18 years from 668 to 686 without returning it. It may be said that in the first place Emperor Tenmu should not be met with the curse of the Kusanagi no tsurugi if it was proper treatment that the Imperial Court took the Kusanagi no tsurugi in charge after the case.

[Original Japanese]