Myths and Folklore Wiki
Myths and Folklore Wiki


Yamato Takeru (Hero Prince of Yamato) is a legendary prince and hero from the Yamato dynasty. He was originally known as Prince Ōsu. His story is told in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, and mentioned in the Kogo shūi.

Family

Originally known as Prince Ōsu (Japanese: 小碓命 OR おうすのみこと), he was the son of the 12th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Keiko. After killing his older brother, Ōusu, his father sent him away to enforce order in other regions in fear of his brutal temperament, hoping he would die in his quest.

Mythology

Before he left the palace he visited the Ise shrine where his aunt, Yamato-hime, who was the highest priestess of Amaterasu was located. He prayed for protection, and his aunt gave him a silk robe. He was also married to Princess Ototachibana, who he brought along on his journeys.

Dominion

During his journey away from his father, the prince was first sent to the land of Kumaso (Kumamoto Prefecture) to take care of some bandits. By dressing up as a maid servant he was able sneak into the bandits drinking party and then defeat each of them. One of the bandit leaders praised the prince and gave him the title "Yamato Takeru" (meaning The Hero/Brave of Yamato).

He also cut down an outlaw after tricking him and replacing his sword with a wooden version. A feast was held by his father in his honor and Yamato Takeru was given many gifts.

A Legendary Sword

He was then sent to the eastern land, where the rebels to the Emperor resided. He again first visited the Ise Shrine, where Amaterasu had compassion on the prince and gave him the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven). While in the east he was invited to a hunting party, which turned out to be an ambush. The grasslands had been set on fire in an attempt to kill him. However, using the sword he cut the burning grass and the fire was miraculously overturned towards his enemies. Due to this event he renamed the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Grass Cutting Sword).

The sword was deposited to a shrine for safe-keeping.

An Early Death

During his journeys Yamato Takeru was very successful and won many other battles. However, he lost his wife Ototachibana-hime at sea, when she scarified herself to the violent storm upon the water to try and quell the sea god's anger. He did continue to be successful in traveling the land and defeating many enemies in the east. However, he died early to disease, said to be a curse put on by a local god of Mount Ibuki for Yamato Takeru's early blasphemy. Yamato Takeru died durring the 43rd year of his father’s reign. After he died, his soul turned into a white bird and flew away.

In Popular Culture

Television

  • Yamato Takeru was featured as an anime series about a boy living amongst human-like aliens and acquired a powerful robot with a sword.
  • In the anime Digimon Adventure, (Digimon: Digital Monsters outside of Japan) two of the main characters are originally named Yamato and Takeru, both being brothers.
  • Yamato Takeru was once mentioned by Seishuuin Ena in the anime Campione, but didn’t have a part in the actually story.

Video games

References

  1. https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/kusanagi-unseen-legendary-japanese-sword-005964
  2. 4 th century: The Legend of Prince Yamatotakeru: the path he took and Yamato’s expansion
  3. https://www.historytoday.com/archive/yamato-takeru-brave-japan
  4. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yamato-Takeru
  5. Anthropologist C. Scott Littleton believes that the legend of Yamato Takeru and King Arthur both are descended from a northeastern Iranian legend.