The Forest of Myths *RERUN
The Chugoku mountains of western Japan were the setting for various stories about the Japanese gods in Japan's ancient chronicle, the "Kojiki," which was compiled 1,300 years ago. The people there also preserve the ancient Kagura dances for the gods. We visit the villages to discover some examples, including a secret Kagura that is presented only once every few years just for the villagers' own eyes, a mysterious Kagura staged only once in 33 years in order to send the spirits of their dead to the afterlife, and a colorful new Kagura which makes the young go wild. This is a glimpse into the world of the people of the Chugoku mountains, who still live close to their gods.

The Omoto Kagura

The Omoto Kagura is performed by the people of Gotsu, Sakurae and several municipalities in Ochi. Each community only does it once every several years.

Tatara Iron

The Nittoho Tatara district of Okuizumo in Shimane Prefecture is the only place in Japan where craftsmen still make iron and steel by an ancient method received from their forebears. Their steel is used to make the Japanese swords.

The Legend of Yamata-no-orochi (The Eight-headed Serpent)

The "Kojiki" relates that an eight-headed serpent called Yamata-no-orochi lived on Mount Sentsu, which now straddles the border of Shimane and Tottori Prefectures. This mountain used to be called Torikami. There are various interpretations of the serpent's slaying by the god, Susano-o but we introduce a local one in which Yamata-no-orochi stands for the mountain and its rivers which bring disastrous floods.

Worship of Kibitsu-hiko and the Demon Ura

In olden times, the nation known as Kibi stretched across the Bizen and Bichu regions of Okayama Prefecture and Bingo in Hiroshima Prefecture. It was known for its excellent iron making techniques. We visit the Tsukuri-yama tumulus, the 4th biggest burial mound in Japan, which suggests that Kibi rivaled even Yamato in the Kansai region as a seat of power. The city of Okayama holds an annual summer festival on the theme of how Kibitsuhiko slew the demon, Ura.