Background Informaiton

Origin: Japanese Mythology
Dragons Slain: Yamata-no-orochi

Susa-no-o, the Dragon Slayer

History: Susa-no-o, the storm god, was cast into the Yomi Land (Netherhell) when he managed to force his sister, the Sun Goddess, into seclusion with his mischievous ways. [1] His name means 'Swift-Impetuous-Deity' [1] or 'The Impetuous Male.' [2]

After descending from the heavens, he became well-respected, if not still mischievous. He spent his time in the Province of Izumo. [2] It is here that he laid eyes upon the terrifying eight-headed dragon Yamata-no-orochi. [2]

Susa-no-o arrived at the river Hi and heard the sound of weeping. He followed the sound and discovered a young woman and two elderly people, Ashi-nadzuchi, meaning 'Foot-Stroke-Elder,' and Te-nadzuchi, meaning 'Hand-Stroke-Elder.' [3] These were early deities weeping, so Susa-no-o inquired about their tears.

They explained that a monster would soon eat their daughter Kushi-nada-hime, meaning 'Wondrous-Inada-Princess.' They had eight daughters, and of all of them she was the last, the other seven fallen pray to the same monster. [3]

On the promise that Susa-no-o would marry Kushi-nada-hime, he promised to slay the serpent. He made his bride-to-be into a many-toothed comb and placed it in his hair for safe keeping. [3]

He ordered the two elderly parents to make eight bowls of sake, [3] an alcoholic drink brewed from rice. [2]

Susa-no-o saw Yamata-no-orochi, a huge dragon; eight hills long with fur and cypress trees growing down his back. [3] His eyes were winter-cherry, and his eight heads had eight matching tails. [3]

The hero took the bowls of sake and placed them in the path of the dragon. In some versions, the sake is poisoned. [2] The dragon, upon seeing the sake in his way, early drank it all, each head to its own bowl. Yamata-no-orochi became drunk and fell asleep. [4]

Susa-no-o, now with nothing to fear, took his ten-span sword and chopped the dragon into little bits. [4] In so doing, his sword became notched trying to chop up one of the dragon's tails. There he found a sword named Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, [4] now a part of the imperial regalia. [2]

The serpent being dead, Susa-no-o took the comb from his hair and turned it back into Kushi-nada-hime, [4] a minor goddess and his new bride. [2]

Quick Facts

  • Susa-no-o is the storm god [1]
  • The Earthly deities Ashi-nadzuchi and his wife Tenadzuchi suffered from the wrath of Yamata-no-orochi. [3]
  • The only surviving daughter of Ashi-nadzuchi and Tenadzuchi was Kushi-nada-hime. [3]
  • Susa-no-o tricked the dragon with sake. [2]
  • Susa-no-o found the sword Murakumo-no-Tsurugi inside the tail of the dragon. [4]


  1. Piggott 15
  2. Piggott 16
  3. Davis 29
  4. Davis 30

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