200px-Yamato Takeru(bronze statue,Osaka)01

Yamato Takeru

Yamato Takeru is a legendary prince and hero from the Yamato dynasty. He is the son of the 12th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Keiko. He was originally known as Prince Osu. His story is told in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, and mentioned in the Kogo shūi. Anthropologist C. Scott Littleton believes that the legend of Yamato Takeru and King Arthur both are descended from a northeastern Iranian legend.

<After he killed his older brother, Ōusu, his father, in fear of his brutal temperament, sent him to Izumo Province (eastern part of Shimane Prefecture) and to the land of Kumaso (Kumamoto Prefecture) to take care of some bandits. Ōsu managed to defeat the bandits by dressing up in a maidservant while they were at a drinking party. One of the leaders praised Ōsu and gave him the title of Yamato Takeru (The Brave of Yamato).

Keikō then sent him to the eastern land, where people were disobeying the imperial court. Yamato Takeru then met his aunt, Yamato-hime, who was the highest priestess of Amaterasu at Ise Grand Shrine. He told her that his father wanted him dead and she, in compassion, gave him the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven), which he later renamed Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Grass Cutting Sword) which Susanoo took from inside the eight-headed serpent, Yamata-no-Orochi. With the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, and continued his journey east.

During the trip across the sea, because of the sea god's anger, a strong storm blew in and his wife, Ototachibana-hime, sacrificed herself to sooth his anger. Once in the eastern land he defeated many enemies. He and a local old man composed the first sedōka in Kai Province with Mount Tsukuba (Ibaraki Prefecture).  On his journey home, he blasphemed a local god of Mount Ibuki. Out of anger, the god cured him with a disease and he fell ill.

Yamato Takeru died durring the 43rd year of his father’s reign. It is believed that he died in the Ise Province. After he died, his soul turned into a white bird and flew away.

In Popular Culture

  • 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.

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