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The History of the Tatara

Hi'i River

The Hi'i is a major river in Shimane Prefecture that stretches some 153 kilometers, flowing northward from its source at Mt. Sentsu, forming the Hikawa Plains, and spilling out into Lake Shinji.

Tatara iron manufacturing prospered in the area around the upper reaches of the Hi'i River from ancient times because extremely good quality iron sand can be collected there. The situation is the same for the zones around the upper reaches of both the Hino River, which flows along the border with Tottori Prefecture, and the Iinashi River, which runs through the city of Yasugi. The Chugoku region probably became Japan's primary iron-manufacturing area also because good quality iron sand could be collected there.

The Izumo district is regarded as the country of myths, and the Hi'i River basin within that is a central location in the mythical stories associated with Japan's founding. For example, Mt. Sentsu is said to be the place where Susanoo-no-mikoto—younger brother of Amaterasu, the sun goddess and progenitor of the imperial line—landed on his journey from Soshimori in the Korean kingdom of Silla. The Torikami district at the foot of the mountain is famous as the setting for the Yamata-no-orochi tale (see the next section). Also, the Inasa beach on the Japan Sea, near the mouth of the Hi'i River is the site of the Izumo Oyashiro, a shrine dedicated to the deity Okuni-nushi-no-mikoto, and part of the traditions surrounding how Japan was entrusted by that deity to the imperial line.

The region is the setting not only for myths. Numerous examples of copper blades and copper slag in the hills near the entrance to the Hikawa Plains have been unearthed. This is also the location of the Kanba-kojin-dani and Kamo-iwakura ruins, which have become part of a major mystery in Japan's ancient history.


Izumo district


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