Japanese Mythology and Folklore – Yatagarasu

At Kumano district, the yatagarasu (八 咫 烏) are sacred ravens and messengers of God. They are also said to have three legs, symbolizing the three Kumano clans (Uji, Suzuki, and Enomoto). There are two things that make yatagarasu a mythological creature. To begin with, it is a raven from three legs. Second, 八 means “eight” and 咫 is a measurement that indicates the extension between the little finger and the thumb. However, in ancient texts, 八 ​​was used many times to refer to large quantities. Therefore, we are talking about a crow of large dimensions.

yatagarasu sculpture

It is said that yatagarasu they teach wisdom, benevolence, and courage. The raven is generally seen as a bearer of bad omens. On the other hand, due to its excellent sense of direction it is also considered as guide in unknown lands or courier in remote places. Among the Japanese myths is the story of the Emperor Jinmu Tenno who came to Kumano and got lost inside a mountain. He yatagarasu showed him the way. Even in Japanese history it is said that in the time of war between the clans Genji and Heike, Nasu no Yoichi was born in Karasuyama Castle after a crow carried a golden oracle.

yatagarasu lantern

As is common to many Japanese mythological creatures, its origin is probably Chinese. Shang yang It is the name given to the raven raven, the pet of a monk or prophet that causes rain when there is drought. It is sometimes depicted as a three-legged rooster.