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.
Susanoo and the octocephalic dragon Yamata-no-Orochi
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 Izumo Dynasty
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.
Japanese tradition inspired by Susanoo
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.
Susano In Modern Popular Culture
Manga and anime
- Toei Animation's animated film Wanpaku ōji no orochi taiji is a children's adaptation of Susanoo's life.
- In the Naruto manga, Susanoo (spelled "Susanô" in the official French version published by Kana) is a giant entity summoned by some Uchiwa through the "Hypnotic Kaleidoscope of the Sharingan." It is immaterial, but encompassing its user, it protects him from any physical attack. We can see that according to its user, its aspect differs. Indeed, Itachi Uchiwa's Susanô is light (red with flames in the anime), and has the Totsuka sword and the Yata mirror, while Sasuke Uchiwa's Susanô is dark and manipulates a bow; Madara Uchiwa's Susanô has two faces and four arms, has two swords and is able to use techniques.
- In the manga Blue Seed, the plot is inspired by Japanese mythology related to the province of Izumo, in particular the confrontation between the god Susanoo and the eight-headed monster Yamata-no-Orochi.
- In the anime Gundam 00, Susanowo is the Mobile Suit of Mr Bushido.
- In the manga Red Eyes Sword: Akame ga Kill! Susanoo is a human teigu, also known as "The Speed of Light: Susanoo". In the anime Kamigami no Asobi (en) (2014), the god Susanoo is one of the students of the school. He is one of those wishing to conquer Yui's heart.
- In the second video game of the Golden Sun, the Lost Age series, the events on Izumo Island are inspired by the fight between Susanoo and Yamata-no-Orochi.
- The video game Ōkami, whose heroine is Amaterasu playing a she-wolf, is inspired by the fight between Susanoo and Yamata-no-Orochi. Susanoo is actually a character in it, who will eventually defeat Yamata-no-Orochi once the latter is greatly weakened by Amaterasu.
- In the video game Shadow Hearts: Covenant Susanoo is the final boss and appears with the three treasures of Japanese mythology. In this incarnation he appears as a humanoid demon sitting on a lotus flower.
- In the video game Bravely Default, Susanoo is a summoner, he is represented as a dark god in a forest of blades.
- In the Blazblue video games, Hakumen wears a white armor called Susanoo.
- Susanoo is a Persona in all the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series.
- In the video game Final Fantasy X, the story of Tidus refers to the myth of Susanoo. Tidus is expelled from Zanarkand (as Susanoo was expelled from the sky) and arrives on Spira (the world of mortals) where he has to defeat a destructive monster named Sin (Yamato-no-Orochi) to prevent Yuna's (Kushinada) sacrifice and save the world from its ravages [ref. wanted].
- Susano'o is a playable character in the 3rd installment of the Warriors Orochi game series; he is the head of the mystical kingdom whose goal is to capture Da Ji and stop Hydra. He carries the sword Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi.
- Susano is a playable god in SMITE, a third-person MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena).
- In the game Senran Kagura Estival Versus, a playable character, Kagura, has attacks that refer to Susanoo's family; Susanoo gives his name to Kagura's ultimate attack.
- In the Final Fantasy XIV game, Susanoo (spelled "Susano") is a primary in the Stormblood expansion.
- In Bungie's Destiny saga, Susanoo is the name of a legendary fusion rifle, obtained by completing a specific quest.