Susanoo (素戔嗚命/須佐之男命, Susano-o no Mikoto) is the god (kami) of storms in Shinto1.
Susanoo (sometimes transcribed as "Susanowo") is the brother of Amaterasu, the sun goddess, and Tsukuyomi, the moon god. According to the Kojiki, each of the three was begotten of Izanagi, when he washed his face of the defilements of the land of the dead (Yomi), at the mouth of the Tachibana River in Himuka (present-day Miyazaki Prefecture).
Amaterasu was created when Izanagi washed his left eye, Tsukuyomi was created when he washed his right eye, and Susanoo when he washed his nose.
He pesters his father for permission to go to the underworld to visit Izanami, Izanagi's wife. Excited, his father chases him away. He then goes to heaven where he challenges his sister Amaterasu's domain, because he is dissatisfied with ruling over the sea.
Amaterasu challenges him to give birth to male kami. From Amaterasu's necklaces, five young women are born. From Susanoo's sword, five impetuous male kami are born.
Susanoo having won the challenge, he indulges in all sorts of excesses. The Kojiki lists four offenses that the god of storms would have committed: destroying the rice fields (by destroying the dikes and filling in the ditches), spreading excrement and skinning a goat foal before placing it in his sister's house.
Exasperated by these acts, Amaterasu withdrew into a cave, causing perpetual night. He is then chased out of Heaven by Amaterasu and takes refuge in Izumo (ancient province of Japan, today included in the prefecture of Shimane) where he becomes the first master.
The gods cut off his beard and remove his nails before banishing him from the Celestial Earth as a punishment. Driven out, he goes to defeat the dragon terrifying the province of Koshi. He then reconciles with Amaterasu and gives her the sword Kusanagi no tsurugi.
He also became the god of fertility.
This story takes place when he is banished from heaven.
Disguised as a horseman, he met an old couple and their daughter Kushinada at a farm. Kushinada was the last of her eight sisters, the others having been devoured by an eight-headed dragon called Yamata-no-orochi. And the next day at midnight, the dragon was to return for Kushinada.
Susanoo, without revealing himself, decided to fight the dragon. With the help of the villagers, he built a gigantic palisade with eight gates around the farm on Mount Sentsū. Then he put eight barrels in front of the gates.
The villagers fled as they heard the roar of the approaching dragon: only Susanoo was left. Susanoo was standing alone in the courtyard with an axe in his hand and his sword (called the Totsuka Sword). With his axe, he pierced the sake barrels; then he hid in a cart.
The monster arrived. Suspicious, he decided that only one of the eight heads would scout around while the others stood guard. Seeing that nothing dangerous was happening, the seven heads drank all the sake. Susanoo cut off the eighth head. Crazy with pain, the monster got up, screaming and breaking part of the barrier. Susanoo turned Kushinada into a comb and hid it in his hair.
The seven heads rose menacingly above Susanoo. But the drunken dragon staggered and lacerated the void. And Susanoo was faster. One by one the heads fell. And soon the dragon was dead.
In the tail of the dragon, Susanoo discovered the magic sword Ame-Murakumo-Tsurugi (The Heavenly Cloud Sword), later known as Kusanagi no tsurugi. The sword was presented to Amaterasu as a gift of reconciliation. Amaterasu then gave it to her grandson Ninigi along with the yata-kagami (a mirror) and the magatama (sacred jewels) as proof of his divine right to rule.
Susanoo finally married Kushinada. They founded the Izumo dynasty and had many children.
The descendants of Kushinada and Susanoo ruled the province of Izumo for six generations. This made the gods jealous. They forced the lords of Izumo to rebel and the sixth descendant of Susanoo was forced to give up the throne. After an era of chaos, Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu, ruled Japan.
The Izumo region is home to many shrines dedicated to Susanoo, including Yaegaki near the city of Matsue.
A story tells that one day he received the pleas of a poor man, in his compassion, Susanoo told him how to protect his house from the plague. The man had to hang a braided straw rope across the entrance of his house. The tradition continues and until recently such a rope was hung along the roads to stop the spread of epidemics.
After many journeys, Susanoo joined Izanami in the realm of the dead.