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Myths of Okinagatarashihimë

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Okinagatarashihimë, also known as Jingū Kōgō, is an important figure in the early myths of Japan. The wife of a Tennō (emperor), she was possessed by the kami and delivered an oracle saying that her husband should conquer the Korean peninsula. He ignored this and died, so she took his place, leading the conquest while pregnant with her son, the next Tennō. After returning to Japan, she ruled on her son’s behalf for 69 years. The legends also contain a number of descriptions of rituals to honour the kami, and, historically, have been considered to report the origins of the Hachiman kami.

The legends are important both for their impact on international relations (Imperial Japan used them as an excuse to colonise Korea) and for what they tell us about early Shinto rituals and the origins of certain jinja. They are surprisingly obscure, even within Japan, possibly because of the difficult recent history that they have.

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