The latest deity of the day here at Balladeer’s Blog will be Okuninushi. For my larger entry on Shinto gods and goddesses click here:                                         

 OKUNINUSHI – The Shinto god of medicine who eventually became the ruler of the Izumo area of Japan. Okuninushi lived in Izumo, which was under the control of the extended family of deities of the exiled storm god Susanowo. The turning point in the medicine god’s life came when he used his healing powers to cure a rabbit that his brothers had cruelly abused. The healed rabbit transformed into his true form as the dwarf-sized Sukunabiko, a god who had fallen to Earth from Takamagahara, the heavenly home of the Shinto gods, like Mt Olympus, Asgard, etc, in other pantheons. 

Okuninushi and the brothers who had abused Sukunabiko in rabbit form were rivals for the hand of Princess Yakami, so Sukunabiko used his magic powers to help his rescuer win the princess’ hand and survive his brothers’ attempts to do away with him. Eventually, after being destroyed by his brothers and then reborn several times over, Okuninushi was advised by his mother (or by Sukunabiko, depending on the version) to hide in Yomi, the land of the dead. Yomi was ruled over by the goddess Izanami, and it was where the storm god Susanowo had retired to live after his Earthly exile had ended. Okuninushi and Susanowo’s daughter Suseri fell in love but the tempestuous Susanowa refused to grant permission for the marriage. 

Once, while Susanowo slept, Okuninushi stealthily tied the storm god’s hair to the rafters of his home in Yomi, and fled with Suseri plus Susanowo’s sword, bow and enchanted harp. The harp played itself to awaken the storm god, who raged and fumed, but who recognized Okuninushi’s bravery and cunning and granted permission for the medicine god and Suseri to marry.  Susanowo also appointed Okuninushi to rule over Japan, which he and then his son Omitsuno (see his entry) did until Amaterasu the sun goddess sent her grandson Ninigi down from Takamagahara to assume control of Japan and the world.



Filed under Mythology


  1. The course of true love never did run smooth. There is always some bitch muckin’ up the works.

    I’m surprised she got over his tying her hair to the rafters so easily. Not typical of a god – they seem to hold grudges. Cool post.

  2. Ooh, I’m always partial to a good love story, especially when it ends well. I guess the storm god was always bound to be a bit grumpy, wasn’t he?

    I know that hair was a big thing for men in traditional Japanese society, so I find it quite appropriate that Okuninushi would tie up Susanowo’s hair to stop him from chasing them. I picture Susanowo looking like a samurai, wearing his hair in a topknot …

    • Hi Didi! Yes you’re right about that and you are picturing Susanowo the way he is generally depicted. He always reminds me of a samurai in Shinto art, especially the picture of him with his sword drawn, getting ready to slay the eight-tailed dragon.

      Tajikara, the god of physical strength, on the other hand, looks like a sumo wrestler, and he was the patron deity of those wrestlers.

  3. Emily

    You have got such a wonderful way of bringing these deties to life without being too complicated.

  4. Unga Bunga Girl: Yeah, I figured you just got it mixed up a little. Take care!

  5. Woman

    You know… I love these posts. I learn quite a bit from them. BUT… how the heck do you pronounce everything???

    • Thank you very much! First – Okuninushi – Oh-koo-ni-NOO-shee

      Susanowo – Soo-SAWN-oh-woe

      Izanami – Izz-uh-NAW-mee

      Sukunabiko – Suh-koo-nuh-BEE-koe

      Suseri -SOO-suh-ree

      Amaterasu -Uh-maw-tuh-RAWS-ooo

      Ninigi- Nih-NEYE-gee

      Takamagahara – Taw-kuh-maw-guh-HARR-uh

  6. Pingback: Fantasy Pantheons: Deities are more fun when there’s more than one - Evil Machinations

  7. Rene Bramb

    I love a god who is kind to animals!

  8. Kudos for the great website you’ve created. Your enthusiasm is definitely inspiring. Thanks again!

  9. John Cola D

    The link for the top 10 dieties in Shinto Mythology dose not work 😦 i would really like to read it please. Your page is helping me so much with my reasearch.

  10. M Waid


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