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Drawing of the god Susanowo.

Susanowo

Susanowo was the god of the sea and the storms according to the ancient Japanese religion Shinto, which means "the way of the gods". Susanowo was born from the nose of the primeval god Izanagi. He had a furious and impulsive temper. In fact, his name means "impetuous." He was able to create ravaging storms that could cause tremendous damage.

Once, his sister, the Sun goddess Amaterasu was so distressed by his fierce temper that she decided to hide herself in the cave of heaven. Unfortunately, without Amaterasu, who ruled the realm of light, darkness surrounded the world. Evil spirits left their hiding places. However, using a mirror the assembly of the gods induced Amaterasu to come out of the cave. Light once again invaded and colored the world.

To prevent another similar accident, the gods banished Susanowo in the province of Izumo and confiscated his beard, nails and other possessions. Thereafter, Susanowo had to overcome many dangerous adventures. Once he killed a monstrous serpent with eight heads and found the sacred sword Kusanagi. Today the sword, along with a precious mirror and jewel, represent the insignia of the imperial family of Japan. After many adventurous journeys, Susanowo went to live with his mother Izanami in the underworld.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF