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Amaterasu-ōmikami

Article writtenSep.3rd, 2020
Amaterasu-ōmikami is the god of the sun, often known as the main enshrined deity of Ise Grand shrine. She is the presiding god of the heavens, and also believed as an Imperial ancestor.
Interpretation may vary depending on the historical materials
Interpretation may vary depending on the historical materials

Basic Information

Amaterasu-ōmikami

Amaterasu-ōmikami is the god of the sun, often known as themain enshrined deity of Ise Grand shrine. She is one of the three most precious gods,Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko, born with Susanō-no-mikoto and Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, and is the presiding god of the heavens.

Amaterasu-ōmikam is said to be the a Imperial ancestor, and is enshrined in many shrines around Japan.

Name
Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大御神)
Some other names
Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神)
Ōhirume-no-muchinokami (大日孁貴神)
Amaterasu-sume-ōmikami (天照皇大神)
Gender
Female god
Mythology
Kojiki
Nihon Shoki

Mythology

Izanagi-no-mikoto's misogi and the Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko

After escaping from Yomi, Izanagi-no-mikoto did a misogi at Awakihara to wash off the kegare of Yomi. 12 gods were born from the clothing he took off. When he bathed in the river, two gods of calamity emerged from the kegare, and also, three gods correcting calamity were born too. He then purified himself at the bottom, the middle and the surface of the river, and the three Wadatsumi gods and three Sumiyoshi gods were born.

At the last, when Izanagi-no-mikoto washed his left eye, Amaterasu-ōmikami was born, and Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto when he washed his right eye, Susanō-no-mikoto when he washed his nose, were born too. These three gods are called Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko, meaning the three precious children. Izanagi-no-mikoto told Amaterasu-ōmikami to rule Takamagahara, Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto to rule Yoru-no-osukuni, and Susanō-no-mikoto was to rule the seas.

However, Susanō-no-mikoto refused to go rule the seas and cried out loud. This caused storms to rage, trees to die, and evil spirits to fill the world. Izanagi-no-mikoto questioned Susanō-no-mikoto, but since he answered that he wanted to go to Ne-no-katasukuni, where his mother Izanami-no-mikoto is, Izanagi-no-mikoto purged Susanō-no-mikoto.

Afterward, Izanagi-no-mikoto confined himself in the Kakuri-no-miya in Taga in Awaji.

Ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto

Susanō-no-mikoto, before going to Ne-no-katasukuni, thought he would visit Takamagahara to see his sister, Amaterasu-ōmikami, to say farewell. But this caused the mountains and rivers to rage, and the land to tremble, so Amaterasu-ōmikami thought that Susanō-no-mikoto came to invade Takamagahara and met him armed. Susanō-no-mikoto said that they should have an ukei, to clear himself of suspicion.

First, Amaterasu-ōmikami washed Susanō-no-mikoto's Totsuka-no-tsurugi with the water of Ame-no-manai and chewed it. From her breath, the three goddesses were born. Then, Susanō-no-mikoto chewed Amaterasu-ōmikami's magatamas, and from his breath, five male gods were born.

Susanō-no-mikoto said that, since gentle goddesses were born from his sword, he won the trial and proved innocent and he was able to enter Takamagahara.

Iwato-gakure

Susanō-no-mikoto, was allowed to enter Takamagahara, got himself carried away and ran riot. The gods made complaints to Amaterasu-ōmikami but she didn't punish her brother. But at the last, when Amaterasu-ōmikami had Kamumiso weaved in a weaving shop, Susanō-no-mikoto threw in a skinned horse through the roof. In the chaos, a weaver accidentally got struck by a shuttle and died.

Amaterasu-ōmikami was terribly grieved for this event, and she shut herself inside a cave called Ama-no-iwato. Without Amaterasu-ōmikami, the god of the sun, the world plunged into darkness, and suffered various calamities. The troubled gods of the heavens gathered and talked about what they should do, and various rituals were held, led by Omoikane-no-kami.

First, they gathered some tokoyo-no-naganakidoris and made them crow at once. Then had Amatsumara and Ishikoridome-no-mikoto make the Yata-no-Kagami, and Tamanōya-no-mikoto made the Yasakani-no-magatama. Amanokoyane-no-mikoto and Futodama-no-mikoto then practiced a fortune-telling and decorated an uprooted sakaki tree with the Yata-no-Kagami and Yasakani-no-Magatama and fuhaku. Futodama-no-mikoto dedicated this as a gohei and read a norito. At the last, Amenotajikarao-no-kami hided next to the Ama-no-iwato.

Amenouzume-no-mikoto danced and sung on top of an overturned tub, tearing off her clothing in front of the other gods, causing an uproarious laughter.

Hearing this laughter, Amaterasu-ōmikami grew curious why everyone is laughing and happy, and asked why. Amenouzume-no-mikoto answered that an honorable god has came, so everyone in joy. Amanokoyane-no-mikoto and Futodama-no-mikoto showed Amaterasu-ōmikami the Yata-no-Kagami. Amaterasu-ōmikami thought the reflection in the Yata-no-Kagami was the honorable god, and leaned out more to see closely.

As Amaterasu-ōmikami leaned out, Amenotajikarao-no-kami caught her hand and pulled her out of the Ama-no-iwato. At the same time, Futodama-no-mikoto placed a shime-nawa across the entrance so she cannot go back in. Since Amaterasu-ōmikami came out of the Ama-no-iwato, light was restored to the world.

Susanō-no-mikoto, who caused this incident, was expelled from Takamagahara.

Kuni-yuzuri

After Ōkuninushi-no-kami's Kuni-zukuri, Amaterasu-ōmikami said that the Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni should be ruled by her own son, Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto, and ordered him to descend to Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni. Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto went to Ame-no-ukihashi and looked down, but seeing the unsettled lower world, he turned back. Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto talked withAmaterasu-ōmikami.

Takamimusubi-no-kami and Amaterasu-ōmikami gathered the gods to the dry riverbed of Ame-no-yasukawa, had Omoikane-no-kami work on plans. Omoikane-no-kami and the gods talked and decided to send Amenohohi-no-mikoto. Although Amenohohi-no-mikoto descended to Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni, he was conciliated by Ōkuninushi-no-kami and didn't return.

Again, Takamimusubi-no-kami and Amaterasu-ōmikami gathered the gods, and decided to send Amenowakahiko. Although Amenowakahiko was sent, given the Ame-no-makakoyumi and Ame-no-habaya, he married Shitateruhime, Ōkuninushi-no-kami's daughter, planning to rule the Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni himself, and didn't return. Amaterasu-ōmikami and Takamimusubi-no-kami sent a pheasant called Nakime to make clear why Amenowakahiko doesn't return.

Nakime descended to Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni and told Amaterasu-ōmikami's words, but Amenosagume told Amenowakahiko that the bird is ominous and he should shoot it. So Amenowakahiko used the Ame-no-makakoyumi and Ame-no-habaya and shot Nakime.

The arrow that shot through Nakime reached where Amaterasu-ōmikami and Takamimusubi-no-kami is, in Takamagahara. Takamimusubi-no-kami took the arrow and said, if Amenowakahiko hasn't betrayed and this arrow was shot by an evil spirit, this arrow will not hit him, but if he has an evil thought, the arrow would hit him. Then Takamimusubi-no-kami threw the arrow back. The arrow hit Amenowakahiko killing him.

Once again, Amaterasu-ōmikami asked the gods who to send. Omoikane-no-kami said that Amenōhabari-no-kami or his child Takemikazuchinō-no-kami should be good, so Amenokaku-no-kami went to see Amenōhabari-no-kami. Amenōhabari-no-kami answered that sending his child Takemikazuchinō-no-kami would be better, and sent him with Amenotorifune-no-kami.

Takemikazuchinō-no-kami and Amenotorifune-no-kami descended to Inasa-no-obama in Izumo-no-kuni. Takemikazuchinō-no-kami stuck his totsuka-no-tsurugi in the beach, and sat on the tip of the sword. Then told Ōkuninushi-no-kami that he had come at the behest of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Takamimusubi-no-kami. And asked how he thinks about Amaterasu-ōmikami thinking that her son should rule the Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni.

Ōkuninushi-no-kami said that he cannot answer, and he should ask his child, Yaekotoshironushi-no-kami. Although Yaekotoshironushi-no-kami had went to catch birds and fish, Amenotorifune-no-kami brought him back. Takemikazuchinō-no-kami demanded him to hand over the country, and Yaekotoshironushi-no-kami said he would obey..

Then Ōkuninushi-no-kami said that Takemikazuchinō-no-kami should ask his child, Takeminakata-no-kami, and he is the last to ask.

Then, Takeminakata-no-kami came along and suggested they should have a contest of strength. However, Takeminakata-no-kami was easily defeated by Takemikazuchinō-no-kami and obeyed.

Takemikazuchinō-no-kami asked Ōkuninushi-no-kami again, and Ōkuninushi-no-kami answered that he would hand over the Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni as his children said. Thus, Takemikazuchinō-no-kami conquered Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni and returned to Takamagahara.

Tenson Kōrin

After, Takemikazuchinō-no-kami conquered Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni and returned to Takamagahara, Amaterasu-ōmikami and Takamimusubi-no-kami told Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto, to descend to Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni as he was ordered before. However, he said that when he was preparing to descend, his son, named Ninigi-no-mikoto, was born, so his son should descend.

When Ninigi-no-mikoto was about to descend, there was a god illuminating the way from Takamagahara and Ashiharanakatsu-no-kuni. So Amaterasu-ōmikami and Takamimusubi-no-kami told Amenouzume-no-mikoto to go ask the god who he is. The god answered that he is Sarutahiko-no-kami and he came to guide the way.

The five gods, called the Itsunotomonō, Amenokoyane-no-mikoto, Futodama-no-mikoto, Amenouzume-no-mikoto, Ishikoridome-no-mikoto and Tamanōya-no-mikoto were going to accompany Ninigi-no-mikoto. And also, the Yasakani-no-magatama, a mirror and the the Kusanagi-no-tsurugi were given to him, and Omoikane-no-kami, Tejikarao-no-kami and Amenoiwatowake-no-kami were going to accompany too. At the last, Amaterasu-ōmikami told Ninigi-no-mikoto to worship and treat the mirror as if it was her spirit, and also, Omoikane-no-kami to administer religious services and affairs of state.

Ninigi-no-mikoto, led by Amenōshihi-no-mikoto and Amatsukume-no-mikoto, descended to Kushifurutake in Takachiho. Ninigi-no-mikoto decided to built a palace and lived here.

Transfer to Ise

The Yata-no-kagami and Amaterasu-ōmikami's spirit were enshrined inside the Imperial Palace. However, under the 10th Emperor Sujin's reign, epidemics happened, killing more than half the people. This was thought that enshrining two powerful gods, Amaterasu-ōmikami and Yamato-no-ōkunitama-no-kami inside the palace is the cause, so Emperor Sujin decided to enshrine the two gods outside the palace. Amaterasu-ōmikami was entrusted with Princess Toyosukīrihime-no-mikoto, and Yamato-no-ōkunitama-no-kami with Nunakīribime-no-mikoto. Toyosukīrihime-no-mikoto built a himorogi of shikataki in Kasanui-no-mura to enshrine Amaterasu-ōmikami. But Nunakīribime-no-mikoto failed to enshrine Yamato-no-ōkunitama-no-kami.

After this, Toyosukīrihime-no-mikoto travelled to find a better place to enshrine Amaterasu-ōmikami. Yamatohime-no-mikoto, the fourth princess of Emperor Suinin, succeeded and travelled through Sasahata in Uda, Ōmi-no-kuni, Mino-no-kuni and then reached Ise-no-kuni. Here, Yamatohime-no-mikoto recieved Amaterasu-ōmikami's oracle, saying, Ise-no-kuni, where divine winds blow, waves from Tokoyo lapping on its shore, is remote but a beautiful place and the goddess would like stay in this province. Yamatohime-no-mikoto built a iwai-no-miya, that is the Isuzunomiya, in the upperstream of Isuzu river to enshrine Amaterasu-ōmikami.

Related shrines

Related shrines

These are some shrines those enshrine Amaterasu-ōmikami.

Kōtai Jingū
The Naikū of Ise Grand shrine. The head shrine. Located in Ise city, Mie prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterashimasusume-ōmikami.
Hirota shrine
Located in Nishinomiya city, Hyōgo prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-ōmikami-no-aratama.
Kanasana shrine
Located in Kamikawa town, Kodama district, Saitama prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Isono shrine
Located in Saijō city, Ehime prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-ōmikami-no-aratama and Takekunikoriwake-no-miko.
Sasamuta shrine
Located in Ōita city, Ōita prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-sumeōmikami, Tsukutomi-no-mikoto and Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto.
Nitta shrine
Located in Satsuma-sendai city, Kagoshima prefecture.
Enshrines Amatsuhikohikohono-ninigi-no-mikoto, Amaterasu-sumeōkami and Masakatsuakatsukachihayahi-amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto.
Komagata shrine
Located in Ōshu city, Iwate prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-ōmikami, Amenotokotachi-no-mikoto, Kuninosatachi-no-mikoto, Akatsu-no-miko, Okise-no-mikoto and Hikoho-no-mikoto.
Hinomisaki shrine
Located in Izumo city, Shimane prefecture.
Enshrines Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Sada shrine
Located in Matsue city, Shimane prefecture.
Enshrines Sadamiko-no-ōkami, Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Hirakiki shrine
Located in Ibusuki city, Kagoshima prefecture.
Enshrines Ōhirumenomuchi-no-mikoto.
Amanoiwato shrine
Located in Takachiho town, Nishi-usuki district, Miyazaki prefecture.
Enshrines Ōhirume-no-mikoto in the Nishi-hongū, and Amaterasu-sumeōmikami in the Higashi-hongū.

Amaterasu-ōmikami is also enshrined in more than 5000 shrines around Japan, such as in Shinmei shrines and Kōdai shrines.

Related gods

Izanagi-no-mikoto
Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko were born in Izanagi-no-mikoto's misogi.
Izanami-no-mikoto
In Nihon shoki, Amaterasu-ōmikami's mother.
Susanō-no-mikoto
Amaterasu-ōmikami's brother. One of the Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko, born in Izanagi-no-mikoto's misogi.
Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto
Amaterasu-ōmikami's brother. One of the Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko, born in Izanagi-no-mikoto's misogi.
Tagirihime-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Ichikishimahime-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Takitsuhime-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Amenōshihomimi-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Amenohohi-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Amatsuhikone-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Ikutsuhikone-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Kumanokusubi-no-mikoto
Born in the ukei of Amaterasu-ōmikami and Susanō-no-mikoto.
Interpretation may vary depending on the historic material.
Interpretation may vary depending on the historic material.
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