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Amaterasu

Amaterasu (天照大神 or Amateratsu) is a Shinto Goddess of the Sun and mythical ancestress of the Royal family of Japan. Her full name is Amaterasu-o-mi-kami and it means glorious goddess who shines in the heavens.

Amaterasu was born from the eye of a primordial god Izanagi[?] when he was purifying himself in a river. She became the ruler of High Celestial Plain (Takamagahara).

Kojiki[?], earliest Japanese sacred chronicle, recounts ancient tale, which is a version of a Missing Sun myth[?]: When her unruly brother, storm god Susanowo, ravaged the earth and ruined his sisterís rice fields, garden and temples, Amaterasu was so embarrassed that she retreated to a cave. The world was plunged into darkness. Other gods failed to make her come out.

Then goddess Ama-no-Uzume[?] got an idea. He hung a mirror onto a nearby tree, organized a celebration and performed an erotic dance before the cave. It made other gods laugh so loud that Amaterasu got curious and peaked out. She saw her own reflection in the mirror. Other gods pulled her out and convinced her to return to the sky.

Later she sent her grandson Ninigi no Mikoto[?] to pacify Japan; his great-grandson became the first emperor Jimmu Tenno. With him he had the sacred sword, jewel and mirror that became Japanese imperial regalia.

Amaterasu is also credited to creating a cultivation of rice and wheat, use of silkworms and weaving with a loom. Her most important shrine is located in Ise[?], Japan in the island of Honshu. The temple is torn down and rebuilt every twenty years. In the temple she is represented as a mirror.

She is celebrated every July 17 with street processions all over the country. Festivities in December 21, the winter solstice, celebrate her coming out of the cave.

Until the end of World War II, the Japanese royal family claimed descent from Amaterasu, and the emperor was officially considered divine.



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