A study on "a sumo match between Nomino-sukune and Taimano-kehaya"
—Focusing on the correlations between "the theory assuming that a water god
got degraded into the Kappa" and the legend of the Star Festival —

Masaya TAKEMURA (Institute of Sport Culture in 21st Century)


  There are three traditional accounts as to where Kappa, one of the legendary Japanese
folk creatures comes from. From a folkloristics perspective, however, Kunio Yanagita
claimed it was a degraded form of a water god. Supposing that claim is true, degradation
will be the origin. There is, however, no mention of it in those accounts.
  In Nihon Shoki, the oldest official chronicle of Japan, there are two mentions of Nomino-
sukune. These mentions are part of the "Emperor Suinin Jyou," a collection of events dur-
ing the reign of Emperor Suinin ; one is about the origin of sumo and the other is about
the origin of haniwa, earthenware figures. In the early eighth century, "Sumaino-sechie"
one of the Imperial Court ceremonies was set on the seventh day of the seventh month and
sumo was held on the same day along with the Star Festival. According to the chronicle,
"a sumo match between Nomino-sukune and Taimano-kehaya," took place on the seventh
day of the seventh month in the seventh year of Emperor Suinin's reign. This intentional
setting shows a clear reason for having "Sumaino-sechie" on the seventh day of the sev-
enth month and having a poem-composing ceremony for the Star Festival and sumo on the
same day. There must have been some sound reasons, but no documents showing this have
not been found.
  This paper starts examining the intention by assuming that the prototype of the Star
Festival was disgrace. The prototype of the Star Festival is the act of sacrificing animals
and humans to the water god. In the Jindaiki section of Nihon Shoki there are some evil
acts by Susanoo (a god) mentioned. One of them was the act of throwing a skinned cow
into a place where weaving was in process and thus hurt a weaving girl It can be said
that the account was described with the prototype of the Star Festival in mind. The evil
acts by Susanoo are the origin of amatsu-tsumi or sin and are regarded as a disgrace,
something to be purified. Thus, the prototype of the Star Festival was set as a disgrace.
  A disgrace means events or acts which are not in compliance with social order and that
order is set by the ones in power. In due course, those events or acts will become some-
thing that must be purified. This paper lists the outlying regions that don't obey the ruler
and the insurrection within the government as these examples. Designating the acts of dis-
grace gives justification to ruling that region and epuration of the insurrection, solidifying
the authenticity of power.