Basic Information

Nickname: The Dragon with Eight Heads, The Eight-Forked Dragon
Type/Species: Hydra-Eastern Dragon
Origin: Japanese Mythology

About Yamata-no-orochi

Yamata-no-orochi annually ate the daughters of two earthly deities, Ashi-nadzuchi and Te-nadzuchi, for seven years. The eighth year, the dragon prepared to consume their last living daughter, Kushi-nada-hime. [2]

Both the deities wept, because Yamata-no-orochi reared eight formidable heads and lashed eight whip-like tails. [2] His eyes were red like winter-cherries. [2] He filled the length and space of eight hills [2] and the eight valleys between them. [3]

On his way to consume the final daughter, Yamata-no-orochi, the eight-forked serpent, found eight bowls of sake, an alcoholic beverage brewed from rice. [1] He drank and drank and drank, each head to its own bowl, until Yamata-no-orochi became very, very drunk [3] and he fell asleep. [1]

Susa-no-o easily cut off all of Yamata-no-orochi's heads and tails. [3] In the eighth tail, the storm god pulled out the sword Murakumo-no-Tsurugi. [3]

Physical Description

An enormous dragon with eight heads and eight tails. [2] He is also described as having red eyes and cypress and fir trees growing on his back. [2,3]

Quick Facts

  • Yamata-no-orochi had eight heads. [1]
  • His tail contained a divine sword. [1]
  • Susa-no-o tricked Yamata-no-orochi with the use of sake. In some versions, the sake was poisoned. [1]

Related Articles


  1. Piggott 16
  2. Davis 29
  3. Davis 30

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.