Ashihara no Nakatsukuni heitei (pacification of the Central Land of Reed Plains) (葦原中国平定)
Ashihara no Nakatsukuni heitei is a narrative of the Japanese mythology, in which Amatsu kami (god of heaven) was given Ashihara no nakatsukuni by Kunitsu kami (god of the land). It is also called Kuniyuzuri (transfer of the land).
The following was written with reference to the first volume of "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters). There is the same narrative in the ninth line in the article of 'The Age of the Gods' in the Book two of "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan).
Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess) and the other gods in Takamanohara (plain of high heaven) considered that 'it was a descendant of Amatsu kami, especially Amaterasu, who should rule Ashihara no nakatsukuni.'
That is why they sent some gods to Izumo Province. When Takeminakata, Kotoshiro nushi (a Japanese ancient god) who was a child of Okuninushi (chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan, and the central character in the important cycle of myths set in that region) descended to Amatsu kami, Okuninushi gave the land in exchange for building his palace.
Amaterasu said, 'It should be my child, Amenooshihomimi, who rules Ashihara no nakatsukuni,' and she ordered Amenooshihomimi to descend from the heaven.
However, after Amenooshihomimi stood on the Ama no Ukihashi (the heavenly floating bridge), looking down the earth, he came up to Takamanohara and reported Amaterasu that 'Ashihara no nakatsukuni is in turmoil, so I cannot handle it.'
Takamimusubi and Amaterasu gathered Yaoyorozu no kami (eight million gods) at the bank of Ama no Yasu no kawa River, and asked them who should be sent to Ashihara no nakatsukuni.
Omoikane (the god of wisdom and talent) and Yaoyorozu no kami talked about it and concluded that 'it was Amenohohi who should be sent to Okuninushi no kami (great land master).'
Takamimusuhi and Amaterasu ordered Amenohohi to go to Okuninushi. However, Amenohohi became a follower of Okuninushi, and he did not come back to Takamanohara.
Takamusuhi and Amaterasu asked Yaoyorozu no kami who should be sent again, and this time they and Omohikane talked and answered, 'Amenowakahiko should be sent.'
Then Amenowakahiko was given Ame no makakoyumi (bow) and Ame no hahaya (arrow), and sent to Ashihara no nakatsukuni. However, Amenowakahiko got married to Shitateruhime, a daughter of Okuninushi, and he thought he would be a king of Ashihara no nakatsukuni, therefore did not come back to Takamanohara even after eight years.
Because Amenowakahiko stayed long and did not come back, Amaterasu and Takamusuhi asked again Yaoyorozu no kami if they should send somebody and ask the reason, then Yaoyorozu no kami and Omoikane answered, 'You should send a pheasant named Nakime.'
The reason why Amatsu kami sent Nakime to Ashihara no nakatsukuni was to ask Amenowakahiko why he did not come back even after eight years had passed, although he was told to pacify the violent gods in the country.
Nakime descended from the heaven, perched on the tree in front of Amenowakahiko's house and asked him and then Amenosagume enticed him 'to kill the bird with an arrow because its voice was ill-omened.'
Amenowakahiko shot Nakime with the arrow which had been given by Takamusuhi, and the arrow flew up to Takamusuhi in Takamanohara.
Because Takamusuhi found blood on the arrow, showing it to the gods, and thought that it was the arrow that was given to Amenowakahiko; Takamusuhi threw it back to the earth, saying, 'If there is nothing wrong with Amenowakahiko and this is the arrow that shot through the evil god and flew to the heaven, then Arrow, you cannot shoot Amenowakahiko. But if Amenowakahiko has an evil intention, shoot through Amenowakahiko.'
The arrow shot through Amenowakahiko's chest, and he died. Nameki also did not come back to Takamanohara.
Funeral ceremony of Amenowakahiko
The cry of Shitateruhime, who moaned the death of Amenowakahiko, reached the heaven. Amenowakahiko's father, Amatsukunitama and the mother heard it, and descended to the earth, building a temporary structure where the coffin of the deceased was placed. When Ajishikitakahikone visited the funeral, the father and mother of Amenowakahiko held Ajishikitakahikone, saying, 'our son hasn't died, he's alive,' because Ajishikitakahikone looked just like Amenowakahiko. Then Ajishikitakahikone got angry, saying, 'don't mistake me for the disgusting dead,' so he drew his sword, broke down the funeral place, and kicked it away. This funeral place was Mt. Moyama in Mino Province. Takahime, a younger sister of Ajishikitakahikone, composed a poem.
When Amaterasu asked Yaoyorozu no kami who should be sent this time, Omoikane and Yaoyorozu no kami answered, 'Itsunoohabari, or his son, Takemikazuchi should.'
Amenoohabari said, 'Takemikazuchi should be sent,' so they sent Takemikazuchi to Ashihara no nakatsukuni with Ame no toribune (heavenly bird-ship).
Obedience of Kotoshironushi
Takemikazuchi and Amenotorifune descended on the beach of Inasa no Ohama, Izumo Province, and drew the totsuka no tsurugi sword, stabbing in the ground upside down, and sat on the edge with his legs crossed.
Then he asked Okuninushi, 'Amaterasu said that my child should rule this country. What do you think?'
Okuninushi told him to ask his son, Kotoshironushi, before he answered. Kotoshironushi answered, 'I accept,' and he made the ship alist, stamping on it, then clapped his hands, changing it into a fresh brushwood fence, and hid into it.
Obedience of Takeminakata
When Takemikazuchi asked Okuninushi, 'Kotoshironushi said so, but is there any child who has an opinion?' and Okuninushi told him to ask another son, Takeminakata. Then Takeminakata came and said, 'Who had a secret talk here? Well, then why don't we have a strength contest?' and he held Takemikazuchi's hand. Takemikazuchi changed his hand into icicle, and then into a sword. On the contrary, Takemikazuchi held Takeminakata's hand, crushed and threw it as if he picked a young leaf of reed, so Takeminakata ran away. Takemikazuchi chased Takeminakata down to the sea of Suwa (Lake Suwa) in Shinano Province.
Takeminakata thought he could not run away any more and said, 'I will not get out of this land. Please do not kill me, and I will offer Ashihara no kuni to the child of god, as Okuninushi and Kotoshironushi told.'
Kuniyuzuri (transfer of the land) of Okuninushi
Takemikazuchi returned to Izumo, and visited Okuninushi again.
Okuninushi said, 'If two sons follow Amatsu kami, I will offer this country without resisting. Instead, I would like you to build a big palace which is almost as big as the one that Amatsu kami live. My 180 gods will follow Kotoshironushi and not be against Amatsu kami.'
He built a palace on the beach of Tagishi no Ohama in Izumo Province, and served a lot of dishes.
It is considered that the description of Ashihara no nakatsukuni was based on the process of unifying country by the Yamato sovereignty (the ancient Japan sovereignty). In Kojiki and Nihonshoki, the narrative took place in Izumo Province, but other provinces seem to have conducted 'kuniyuzuri' for the Yamato sovereignty in some kind of way. It is said that the reason why Izumo Province was the setting for the kuniyuzuri in Kojiki and Nihonshoki is that Izumo was the last province and the unifying the country was completed with the pacification of Izumo.
There is another opinion that the ancient Yamato sovereignty, which had already unified by the leading power of Izumo, was destroyed by the other powerful province, and the narrative was created later in order to justify the regime change.