Yamata no Orochi

Yamata-no-Orochi (ヤマタノオロチ, 八岐の大蛇) is a famous monster from Japanese mythology. Specifically, an Asian dragon, which, unlike other depictions of Chinese or Japanese dragons portrayed as good, is depicted as evil and dangerous.

Yamata no Orochi's Legend

It was a Japanese dragon with eight heads and eight tails, with eyes as red as blood, and whose breath was poisonous. According to the Kojiki and the Nihon shoki, on his body, which spanned eight valleys and eight mountains, grew moss, cedar and cypress trees and on his belly flowed rivers of blood between his glowing flesh.

He was a native of Koshi province (now Hokuriku region) and lived near the Hi River in Izumo. He used to feed on a young girl once a year.

At the end of a battle on Mount Sentsū, he was killed by Susanoo who had provided the snake with eight tubs of refined sake eight times. Weakened by this drink, he could not resist Susanoo's Totsuka-no-tsurugi attacks. Susanoo then found the sword Ama no murakumo no tsurugi (天叢雲剣, lit. "Sword that gathers the heavenly clouds") in the tail of the monster that he had failed to slice, which he later gave to his sister Amaterasu.

One possible interpretation of the legend is that Yamata-no-Orochi actually symbolizes the valley and its floods or perhaps brigands or rival tribes. It is known that the ancient Japanese often demonized their defeated enemies, such as Tsuchigumo, Aterui nicknamed Akuro-ō, the king of the Evil Way, as well as the story of the oni and Momotarō (who would actually represent an ancient kinglet and his subjects subjugated by Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto).

Thus, the maidens devoured by the snake could have been human sacrifices to appease the cruelty of an Ara-Mitama (荒御霊), or conversely, tribes to buy peace from human enemies, Ame-no-Murakumo then being a metaphor for an excellent sword, with mystical properties, made from the iron sand of the river, domesticated by humans.

The power of this sword, both mystical and martial, was such that it enabled Susanoo to "disperse the clouds gathered in the sky" when he drew it, i.e. to overthrow all opposition or, on the contrary, to unify and consolidate his own kingdom.

Yamata no Orochi In popular culture

In view of its nature and its place in Asian culture, Yamato-no-Orochi has appeared several times in popular culture:

  • In the game Nioh, he is one of the bosses to face.
  • The Orochi-bito are a people of humanoid snakes in the Kamigawa cycle of Magic: The Gathering, inspired by the dragon.
  • In the manga Shaman King, one of the attacks of the character Ryu takes the form of this creature.
  • In the anime Kannazuki no miko, Orochi and his eight minions are the villains of the plot.
  • In the game Warriors Orochi, he is one of the creators of this merged world.
  • The game Ōkami uses this legend as its main plot.
  • In the game Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the events on Izumo Island are inspired by the battle between Yamata-no-Orochi and Susanoo, the Snake boss representing him.
  • In the Naruto manga, Orochimaru takes the form of this monster and is defeated by the Susanō technique of Itachi Uchiwa.
  • In the manga One Piece, one of Hancock's sisters, Sandersonia, uses a technique called "Hebigamitsuki, Yamata-no-Orochi". Moreover, the shogun of the Wa country is called Orochi Kurozumi who has a demon fruit inspired by the legendary creature.
  • In The King of Fighters, especially the 97, the 8 superpowers revive a being of the same name: Orochi.
  • The anime film Wanpaku ōji no orochi taiji is a children's adaptation of Susanoo's life, in which he also faces Yamata-no-Orochi.
  • In the manga Blue Seed, Yamata-no-Orochi attacks Kushinada from the very first episode; he is also the one who passes on his magatama to Kusanagi.
  • In The Secret World, the Orochi Group is a Japanese multinational corporation with eight subsidiaries, and acts as an antagonistic entity in the overall plot.
  • Since the fifth generation of Pokémon, the Solochi evolutionary family has referred to it.
  • In Attic Player episodes 1 and 2 about the game Takeshi no chōsenjō, both videographers refer to Yamata-no-orochi. Moreover, it is even a recurring character in that we learn that one of the recurring characters, Granolax (a small, harmless-looking but dangerous alien octopus, leader of the Shi-Nwa), is the reincarnation of the dragon in the channel's universe.
  • In the anime series Digimon Tamers, a Digimon named Orochimon is one of the minor antagonists, he has 8 snake heads, spits venom and asks for a tax in the form of sake from the Gekomon living in the area.
  • In the Yo-kai Watch license, the yo-kai Venoct (Octorgone in French) and all its derivations are inspired by Yamata-no-orochi.
  • In the manga One Punch Man the boss of the main arc is called Orochi and his hair attacks like 8 dragons diving on their target.
  • It seems that in general, the Kaiju King Ghidorah is partly inspired by Yamato-no-Orochi because of its evil nature and its many heads.
  • He is an eidolon in the MMORPG Aura Kingdom.
  • In the game Dragon Quest III, one of the bosses is named Orochi and is a 5-headed dragon.
  • In the Megami Tensei game series and its Persona spin-offs he is one of the many Shadow and Persona that can be fought or summoned respectively.
  • In the movie Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters released in 2019, the creature's name is referenced as "Titanus Yamata no Orochi" on a map showing various points of appearance of various titans, Yamata-no-Orochi having been sighted in Japan.
  • In Len'en Project, Adagumo no Yaorochi and Adagumo no Saragimaru are two characters born from one of the tails and arms of Orochi, a character greatly inspired by Yamata no Orochi.
  • The Monster roller coaster (Walygator Parc), before being relocated in France, operated from 1996 to 2007 in the Japanese park Expoland under the name of Orochi.