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Land of myths, a journey around the sacred sites of the Kihachi legend in Takachiho

Have you ever heard of the Kihachi legend, one of the many myths of Takachiho?

Here, we will be introducing you to the sacred sites surrounding the Kihachi legend, going beyond the Kihachi-no-Chikaraishi (Strength Stone of Kihachi) in Takachiho Gorge, which is already a popular tourist landmark.

 

According to Takachiho folklore, Mikenu-no-Mikoto was on an eastward expedition with his brother, Emperor Jimmu, when he encountered a rainstorm in Kumano and had to return to Kyushu.

The legend tells the story of how Mikenu-no-Mikoto defeated Kihachi—a god of violence who ruled the entirety of Takachiho—while his brothers were away.

The Kihachi legend and its lasting influence on Takachiho Gorge

※Photo by PHOTO AC

It is said that Unome-hime, who had been taken away by Kihachi, sought help from Mikenu-no-Mikoto by appearing in the reflection of Nanatsuga pond.

The stone that Kihachi is said to have thrown when he showed of his strength to Mikenu-no-Mikoto, is known as Kihachi-no-Chikaraishi. It is estimated to weigh around 200 tons.

The Oni-no-Iwaya and Hachiminekutani, near Shinbashi Bridge in Takachiho, is where Kihachi is said to have lived. To think there was once an oni (evil creature in Japanese folklore, known for superhuman strength) living in this large stone house in the Takachiho gorge…

 

Kihachi’s defeat, sites which remains in Takachiho to this very day

It is said that during the battle between Kihachi and Mikenu-no-Mikoto, the blade of Kihachi’s longsword came loose, and cut through a stone, known as the Onikiri stone. This location has also become famous as a sort of mecca for fans of the popular anime series, Demon Slayer.

Kihachi-no-Hizatsuki-ishi (Kihachi’s Kneeling Stone), which Kihachi is said to have knelt down on when he drew his bow, aiming his arrow in the direction of Takachiho Shrine. The fact that the stone he knelt down on is so large meant he must have been an enormous god indeed.

Reference: Takachiho town Community Center’s homepage

The story goes that even after Kihachi was defeated, his powerful magic would bring him back to life overnight. This occurred numerous times, until finally, Mikenu-no-Mikoto cut his body into three pieces, burying the parts in three different places.

One of these three locations is the Kihachizuka (Kihachi Mound) just behind the Solest Takachiho Hotel, and is where Kihachi’s neck is buried. Locally known as the Neck mound.

Even after his defeat, Kihachi used his powers to bring in an early frost, causing suffering amongst the locals. The Shishikake Festival is still held every year at the Takachiho Shrine on the 3rd day of the 12th month of the Japanese lunisolar calendar, in order to appease Kihachi’s spirit and protect the harvests.

Enshrined in Takachiho Shrine is Mikenu-no-Mikoto, the god who defeated Kihachi. When visiting, be sure to look for the depiction of the god defeating Kihachi, on the right side of the Inner Shrine.

 

Conclusion

What do you think about this guide to the sacred sites of the Kihachi legend in Takachiho?

A fun fact – there is actually a different version of the story, in which Mikenu-no-Mikoto fell in love with Unome-hime at first sight, and defeated Kihachi in an effort to steal her away from him.

Why not find your favorite amongst the many characters that appear in the Takachiho myths, and go around visiting the sites associated with them?

There have to be some people who support Kihachi… right?

 

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