To-no-Wosite and Ukesuteme
We have described how the teachings of To-no-Wosite were brought to China from Hinomoto many millenia ago. We have also presented the story of Ukesuteme who became the spiritual master, Mother of the West, known to Taoists as Xi Wangmu.
To no Wosite and Taoism
We now come to the title of this series, “The Root of Taoism is in Wosite Japan.” It is derived from this part of Beace’s post:
In other words, the root of Taoism (Shinsen thought) is To-no-Wosite and the Jomon philosophy and culture that were introduced to the continent from Japan.
Beace is stating the the root of Taoism is threefold, all stemming from the Wosite civilization:
(1) To-no-Wosite teachings
(2) Jomon-Wosite philosophy
(3) Jomon-Wosite culture
Ukesuteme Becomes Mother of the West and Deity of Longevity
The To-no-Wosite practice that had become obsolete was revitalized around 1000 BCE. It was Ukesuteme-san, Nisi-no-Haha Kami, who revived it. This accomplishment was so great that her story became a myth of a utopia that does not exist in this world.
Ukesuteme seems to have been very long-lived. She went back to Japan for the third time and met Ninikine-san (grandson of Amateru). She arrived in a special palanquin called minekoshi which she had had made for travel over mountain peaks (mine) which duly amazed Ninikine. She received from him the Michimi-no-Momo (longevity peach) as a souvenir. Its name means that it bears 3,000 fruits, in other words there are many peaches on the tree. She was pleased to take it back to Korohin. She was close to 80 years old at the time.
Peaches of Longevity
The illustration below is from Beace’s post. The verse is from the Hotuma Tutaye. It reads as follows.
Mitimi no momo o / tamaware ha
hanami no momo ha / marenari to
kunitu to ni nasu
The michimi peach / which she received / is rarer than the flowering peach / and she took it with her as souvenir.
The Huainanzi (a 2nd century BCE Taoist classic) records a story of Han Wudi (seventh Han emperor, died 87 BCE) visiting the Queen Mother of the West and eating peaches together. Note that Wosite was written around 600 BCE, more than 400 years earlier. In Chinese lore, the description of the peach changed to: “peach that blooms and bears fruit once every 3,000 years” as it became a symbol of longevity and immortality.
Nisi-no-Haha had a very long life. And it is not such a strange story, for the land of Japan has since ancient times been famous for longevity. It is influenced by the unique food culture of not eating much meat. This is what Ukesuteme had learned from Amateru on her second visit.