Japanese Myths: Hoori and the Sea King's Daughter
Japanese myths are often used, as myths are, to explain how things came to be. To connect the mythological age to the modern age. This is especially true in Japan where dates are sometimes given, though usually only approximate dates. There are also many Japanese myths that concern real, historic people:
A long time ago, there were two brothers who were princes, gods actually. The older one was called Hoderi and the younger Hoori. Hoderi was a great fisherman and Hoori a great hunter. One day they decided to have a contest to see who was better at the other's sport. Hoderi gave Hoori his lucky fish hook to use. Unfortunately, Hoori was not so lucky and not only did he catch no fish, he lost the hook. Hoderi, enraged, told him to not come back till he found it. Hoori went to sea in a small boat hoping for the best.
After some time, Hoori met and married the Sea King's daughter. She took him to live in her home under the sea and they were very happy. Over time, Hoori came to miss Japan and his bother. One day, he found the missing hook in a small fish and told his wife he wanted to visit his brother to return it. Although she was pregnant at the time she agreed.
Back in Japan, Hoori's wife asked him to build a small hut for her to have her child in. She said that once she entered the hut Hoori was not to enter or even look inside. When it was time for the baby to be born she went into the hut. Hoori, of course, did look in, and to his horror saw a dragon giving birth. Terrified, he ran away, but thought better of it after awhile and returned. The hut was now empty except for the baby, a boy. Hoori's wife had returned to the sea because he broke his promise.
Hoori never saw his wife again, but she sent her sister to take care of the baby. When he was grown, he married his aunt and their son was Temmu, the first emperor of Japan.
Historically, Temmu was a real person. He became emperor of Japan in 673 AD, establishing a line of descendants that has continued unbroken until today. He commissioned the earliest book of Japanese myths, the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), to be written.