Soon after being expelled from heaven for tricking his sister, Amaterasu, Susanoo descended to Earth where he met an old man and a young girl, both of whom were crying. He asked why they wept, and the old man told Susanoo of his misfortune. He had once had eight daughters, but every year an eight-headed dragon known as the Yamata-no-Orochi emerged from the nearby river and ate one of them; they knew the beast would soon return to take his last remaining daughter. Upon hearing of their plight, Susanoo agreed to help them by tricking the dragon into drinking several vats of sake until it became intoxicated and fell asleep. As the dragon slept, he drew his sword and hacked the creature to bits until the river ran with its blood.
This depiction of Susanoo and the dragon by the famous Kuniyoshi (1798 – 1861) shows Susanoo watching the creature swim before he makes his attack.
Another artist’s rendition of Susanoo and the eight-headed dragon, this time by the great Yoshitoshi (1839 – 1892).
Once again, our hero slays the dragon and saves the day in this version by the famed Kuniteru (1808 – 1876).