Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eight Headed Dragons and Rabbit Sweets

Okininushi was attending his eighty brothers who all sought the love of the beautiful princess, Ya-gami-hime of Inaba. Finding a white rabbit without fur, clearly in pain, the brothers advised it to bathe in salt water, which only made it worse. Okinushi asked the rabbit for his story. The rabbit had wanted to cross from the island of Oki, in the Sea of Japan, to Izumo. There was no bridge so the rabbit had persuaded a family of crocodiles to form a living bridge to enable him to cross the water. He had promised that he would count the number of crocodiles, who were to lie end to end, and compare them to the number of sea creatures, so the crocodiles would know who is more numerous. But this was just a ruse to get the crocodiles into forming the bridge. Just before he had completed crossing the bridge he was foolish enough to tell this to the crocodiles. In a rage the last crocodile on the bridge skinned the rabbit alive. Okininushi told the rabbit that instead he should bathe in the fresh water by the bulrushes and then roll in the ground sprinkled with the pollen of the sweet Kama grass. Now the rabbit was in fact a deity. When the cure worked and the rabbit’s snow white fur returned, he granted Okininushi the land of Ya-gami.


因幡の国気多ちゅうところに一匹の白兎が住んどったげな。ある時天敗れたぐらいの、こうけい大水が流れてな。 遊岐島まで流されて困ちょうたげなわい。よこに、わにさめと出会ったげな。

白兎わにさめをだまくらかして向こう岸にいったるわいと思うて 「おまいさまの連れととちがようけかくらべような」といってな。 向こう岸まで並べて「一匹一匹。。。」って数ながら渡っただいや。そん時に白兎がつい【渡りに舟とはこんことだいや」って言うたけ、わにさめはだまかされたってわかって、こうけ怒ってなあ。



In Japan there are stores that sell local sweets you can give as gifts (omiyage) all over Japan. Around here a lot of the stores sell sweets shaped like little rabbits. The above sweet is actually a cake with some sugary type filling inside. Rabbit treats are popular around here because the above story is actually about Shimane. My prefecture, although perhaps sometimes countrybumpkin, is the origin of a lot of myths- most notably the one about Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight headed dragon. If you've played or heard of the game Ookami you know what I'm talking about. There is even a road here known as the Orochi Loop which curls around like a dragon on itself. Although sometimes I complain about things like the lack of good shopping or English speakers in my area, I am proud and happy to be living in a place with such a rich history.

the top picture is a delicious rabbit cake. the next one is a picture of the packaging for the cakes- note the cute bunny and the little deity poking out of the bullrushes. this last one is a pic of the orochi loop- although you can't see the loopy part.

1 comment:

  1. !!! So cool that you are in such a rich cultural place! I read "Orochi" and went "wait a minute...I've heard that somewhere!" I was never sure if Okami was really *that* culturally accurate.