History That – Konohanasakuya-Hime
Hello all, this is Adasifs. I’m returning with a brand new blog segment called “History This”, posted on Thursdays. What will it be about? HISTORY! Just little history and mythological tidbits and contexts that are present in anime. These posts are largely focused upon, providing historical contexts to historical/mythological references in anime, games and Japanese media.
Onto some housekeeping things. Firstly I’ll provide all my sources but I refuse to reference. Referencing is one of my personal hells. My only concession is the odd footnote here and there. Secondly – sources. I can’t read Japanese. This was written with an utter reliance on written western resources. Thirdly – will I be analyzing extensively? I should but I’m lazy. I think I’ll only recount and provide context.
Now onto the first post! This post is dedicated to Patrick.M and the persona of his waifu, Yukiko from Persona 4 – Konohana Sakuya.
Konohana Sakuya Hime is a Shinto goddess. She has a few alternate names – 木之花開耶姫, 木花咲耶姫 and 木花開耶姫. Her names have been translated into Ko no hana Sakuya , Princess-Blossoming-Brilliantly-Like-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees* and Kami Ata-tsu-hime. There are probably more translations but those are some of the ones I have found. All her names reinforce her aspect as a flower princess – especially for cherry blossoms.
Konohana Sakuya Hime is an alterego (a persona is actually quite different but the details of Jungian psychology can be saved for another day) that grants Yukiko powers in battle within Persona 4. Her design, much like her name, reflects her aspect of a cherry blossom goddess. Her powers are focused around healing and fire spells – a direct reference to her stories. Her primary stories can be found in the Kojiko and the Nihongi. She is mentioned to be the daughter of the mountain god Ohonyamatsumi and the younger sister of Iwanaga-hime,
Within the Kojiko, she met Ninigi who promptly asked for her hand in marriage. Her father agreed to the match and sent along Iwanaga-hime alongside with Konohana Sakuya-hime. However Iwanaga-hime was Konohana Sakuya-hime’s opposite, the princess of rocks and as ugly as her sister was beautiful. Ninigi sent Iwanaga-hime back to her father due to her ugliness. Ohonyamatsumi sent back a message stating that he had sent both his daughters so Iwanaga-hime would ensure that Ninigi’s offspring would live eternally and Konohana Sakuya-hime would ensure that their lives would be as flourishing as a blooming flower. Ninigi’s rejection of Iwanaga-hime ensured that his offspring now had short lives.
It is in this story, her role as a flower princess is highlighted to represent earthly life. In the Nihongi, her associations with fire appear. After her marriage, Konohana Sakuya Hime was accused of infidelity by Ninigi after she became pregnant after one night. Angered at his accusations, she prepared an utsumuro and stood within it. She declared that if the children were his, they would not be harmed by the fire. She set fire to the hut and stayed within it, where upon she gave birth to three children. Her children Hoderi, Hosuseri and Hoori were unharmed by the fire.
Whether Konohana Sakuya-hime survived the fire differs from legend to legend. It is not mentioned in either the Kojiki or Nihongi texts but most additions do mention that she survived. While she appears to have had very little association with Mt. Fuji, there are shrines dedicated to her at the locale. Other various legends that have featured Konohana Sakuya Hime prominently include her creation of sake and that she acts to prevent Mt. Fuji from erupting.