Orochi or Yamata no Orochi is a famous creature often mentioned in Japanese Shinto. This terrible eight-headed monster once spread terror until it was destroyed by the god Susanoo.
For lovers of traditional Japanese culture, Orochi is no longer a strange name. This ferocious eight-headed snake-shaped monster has inspired many game creators and authors.
The Birth of the Great Snake Orochi
According to mythology Orochi was born from the wrath of the god Izanagi. The god of creation in Japanese mythology created this country by using a holy spear to stir the ocean, creating 8 different islands. One day, the goddess Izanami (wife of god Izanagi) gave birth to the fire god Hinokagu. Because the fire emanating from Hinokagu burned the goddess Izanami. In anger, Izanagi slashed Hinokagu into eight different pieces, each of which fell to the ground and became a volcano.
After being slashed, Hinokagu’s aura reincarnated back into the human world and became the Fire God. And the evil spirit born from guilt for mother and resentment for father still accumulates in 8 volcanoes, every 100 years will spread calamity to harm people. 8 flames with large lava flows combined to form the eight great snake Orochi. Each of Orochi’s heads corresponds to a sin that people commit (unfilial, untrustworthy, ignorant, stupid, insensitive, sinister, shallow, lustful).
Orochi and the battle with the god Susanoo
Orochi’s raging caused the folk to establish the custom of sacrificing girls every year. Once when Susanoo got into an argument with the goddess Amaterasu and fell to the ground, the god met the native couple Kunitsu Kami in Izumo district crying. Susanoo asked the reason, the couple immediately told him about the tribute ceremony for Orochi. They will have to sacrifice their last daughter, Kushiinadahime, to the great snake.
Susanoo immediately asked her to marry Kushiinadahime and then magically turned her into a comb to put on her hair so that Orochi wouldn’t sniff it. Because Orochi is so strong, Susanoo has to use a trick to defeat it. The god asked someone to cook heavy wine, divide it into 8 jars and store it at the door of the house. When Orochi came to take the sacrifice, 8 of its heads fell into 8 jars of wine and got drunk. Just waiting for that, Susanoo rushed out from hiding and cut off all 8 heads, finishing Orochi. From Orochi’s tail, the god found the divine sword Ama no Murakumo no Tsurugi. Since this is a treasured sword castle, Susanoo gave it to her sister Amaterasu to make peace.
Orochi in popular culture
Orochi has become a heavily exploited and frequent mythological figure in Japanese popular culture products. The Great Snake appeared in many different famous manga-anime series such as Naruto, Inuyasha, Yaiba, Dragon Quest: Emblem of Roto, Wanpaku Oji no Orochi Taiji… Many popular games also included Orochi in their plots such as: Onmyoji, Okami, Otogi, Warriors Orochi (1, 2, Z)… Orochi image is also exploited in Godzilla: King of the Monsters through King Ghidorah.