|Main||Origin||Quotes and Fun Facts||Gallery|
The Hare of Inaba is a hare that is seen as a trickster, but also as a guide for Amaterasu in the Ise ga Naru version of the myth. In the Izumo myth, the hare tricks sharks to get to an island, but the sharks find out and bite off the hare's skin. Okuninushi and his brothers passed by and spotted the hare as it called for help. His brothers told the hare to wash itself in sea water, which would hurt, but Okuninushi told the hare to bathe in fresh water and roll in cattail pollen. The Hare, now in it's original state, revealed itself as a god, and in gratitude, the Hare told Okuninushi that he would marry Princess Yakami.
Another version of the tale of the Hare of Inaba is found in the Kojiki, the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, which dates from early in the 8th century (711-712). The legend appears in the first of the three sections of the Kojiki, the Kamitsumaki, also known as the Jindai no Maki, or "Volume of the Age of the Gods". This section of the Kojiki outlines the myths concerning the foundation of Japan prior to the birth of the Emperor Jimmu, the first Emperor of Japan. In the Kojiki version of the myth, a hare tricks some wanizame into being used as a land bridge in order to travel from the Island of Oki to Cape Keta.A Cape Keta is now identified with the Hakuto Coast in present-day city of Tottori. The hare challenges the sharks to see whose clan is larger--that of the sharks, or that of the hares. The hare had the sharks lie in a row across the sea. The hare then hopped across them, counting them as he went. Nearing the end, the hare exclaims that he has deceived the sharks in order to use them as a bridge. The last shark attacks the hare, ripping his fur from him.
Ōkuninushi and his eighty brothers were traveling through the Inaba region to woo Princess Yakami of Inaba. While the brothers were on their way to visit the princess, the flayed hare stopped them and asked them for help. Rather than helping the hare, they advised it to wash in the sea and dry itself in the wind, which naturally caused it great pain. In contrast Ōkuninushi, unlike his quarreling elder brothers, told the hare to bathe in fresh water from the mouth of a river, and then roll in the pollen of cattails. The body of the hare was "restored to its original state", and after its recovery, revealed its true form as a god. In gratitude, the hare told Ōkuninushi, the lowest born in the family, that he would marry Princess Yakami. The Hare of Inaba legend emphasizes the benevolence of Ōkuninushi, who was later enshrined at the Izumo-taisha. Japanese scholars have traditionally interpreted the struggle between the kind Ōkuninushi and his wrathful eighty brothers as a symbolic representation of civilization and barbarism in the emergent Japanese state. The version of the Hare of Inaba legend told in the Kojiki has been compared to similar myths from Java in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India.
Though, often seen as a mischievous Youkai, the Hare of Inaba is actually a God.