Amaterasu – 天照 – The Sun Goddess Research
Amaterasu Ōmikami meaning “Great Divinity Illuminating Heaven” in Japanese is one of the main deities in the Shinto religion; the Celestial Sun Goddess from whom the Japanese Imperial family claims descent.
She was born from the left eye of her father, Izanagi, who bestowed upon her a necklace of jewels and placed her in charge of Takamagahara (“High Celestial Plain”), the abode of all the kami (forces of nature). One of her brothers, the storm god Susanoo, was sent to rule the sea plain. One of her brothers, the storm god Susanoo, was sent to rule the sea plain. Before going, Susanoo went to take leave of his sister. As an act of good faith, they produced children together, she by chewing and spitting out pieces of the sword he gave her, and he by doing the same with her jewels. Susanoo then began to behave very rudely—he broke down the divisions in the rice fields, defiled his sister’s dwelling place, and finally threw a flayed horse into her weaving hall. Indignant, Amaterasu withdrew in protest into a cave, and darkness fell upon the world.
The other 800 myriads of gods conferred on how to lure the sun goddess out. They collected cocks, whose crowing precedes the dawn, and hung a mirror and jewels on a sakaki tree in front of the cave. The goddess Amenouzume began a dance on an upturned tub, partially disrobing herself, which so delighted the assembled gods that they roared with laughter. Amaterasu became curious how the gods could make merry while the world was plunged into darkness and was told that outside the cave there was a deity more illustrious than she. She peeped out, saw her reflection in the mirror, heard the cocks crow, and was thus drawn out from the cave. The kami then quickly threw a shimenawa, or sacred rope of rice straw, before the entrance to prevent her return to hiding.
Amaterasu’s chief place of worship is the Grand Shrine of Ise, the foremost Shintō shrine in Japan. She is manifested there in a mirror that is one of the three Imperial Treasures of Japan (the other two being a jeweled necklace and a sword). The genders of Amaterasu and her brother the moon god Tsukiyomi no Mikato are remarkable exceptions in worldwide mythology of the sun and the moon.
I think that the Shinto religion is very interesting because of the devotion that japanese people have to the various deities and powers called Kami, through shrines and various rituals. Shinto is not a way of explaining the world. What matters are rituals that enable human beings to communicate with Kami who are not God or gods. The concept that they are spirits that are concerned with human beings – they appreciate our interest in them and want us to be happy – and if they are treated properly they will intervene in our lives to bring benefits like health, business success ect.
Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto tocoexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.