To under stand Japanese culture and its inheritance without the knowledge of Japanese mythology. I’ll write a series of 5 posts on the important myths. In this post, let us see “Iwato Gkure.” 合掌
Susanoh acts violently
As stated in the previous post, Izanaki asked Take Haya Susanoh no Mikoto (建速須佐之男命) to rule the ocean but he didn’t live up to the duty and cried over his deceased mother. Izanaki was so furious that he deprived Susanoh of the status of Kami and ousted him.
Susanoh decided to tell what happened to him to Amaterasu Ohmikami and leave Takama no Hara to see his mother.
When he went to Takama no Hara, it was shaken as though an earthquake occurred. Amaterasu misunderstood him and thought he would take Takama no Hara away from her by force.
To clear up the misunderstanding, they agreed to do Ukei. Ukei is a kind of oralce. They gave birth to Kami from the other’s belongings.
After the Ukei, Susanoh claimed he was an winner because three female Kami were born from his sword. Then he behaves violent all of a sudden.
The following is important ones what he did. They are important because it tells what Tsumi is. Tsumi is usually translated as crime. Tsumi he made is:
- He destroyed the rice paddy in Takama no Hara: Violating the social norm.
- He peeled the skin of a horse and threw it to the weaving house. A weaver was shocked to death: Violating the sacredness.
Rice cultivating is the most important for us. As told in Japanese mythology 5 (not yet written), the ancestor of emperor succeeded the rice cultivating Amaterasu did. In addition to it, his deeds have something to do with Misogi.
Amaterasu hides away
The origin of the Imperial Regalia
Due to his behavior, Amaterasu was scared to hide away into a huge cave called Ama no Iwato. She is Kami of the sun.The whole world was in complete darkness and “the evil spirits” were floating around in Takama no Hara. This incident is called “Iwato Gakure.”
All the Kami gathered to cope with the situation: Taking Amaterasu out of the cave. The following is the important ones they prepared.
- A huge mirror. We believe Mirror is to invites one’s soul.
- Magatama: Magatama is jewelry. We believe Mirror is to have the power to invites one’s soul.
Magatama. They made a kind of wreath with them.
The mirror and Magatama are ones of San Syu no Jingi. San Syu no Jingi (Three Sacred Treasures) are the imperial Regalia consist of Yatano Kagami (八咫鏡), Yasaka Ni no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉), and Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙剣). The ones they prepared were the origins of Yakatano Kagami mirror and Yasaka Ni no Magatama. Kusanagi no Tusrugi was found in the belly of huge serpent by Susanoh. I’ll tell you the stroy in the next post.
They made Sakaki plant ornamented with the mirror and the wreath of the Magatama. It is Gohei. Gohei is a Yorishiro as described in this post and it originally used in this story.
Ame no Uzume lured Amaterasu out
Then, Ame no Uzume turned a bucked around and danced on it. She was almost in naked and other kami roared with laugh. Amaterasu wondered what happened. “What happened?”, she asked. Ame no Uzume replied, “There is a Kami greater than you. We are in pleasure.” Then other Kami showed the mirror to Amaterasu. She found her face in the mirror. She came out of the cave slightly to make sure what was going on.
All of a sudden, a Kami called Tajikaraoh took her by the hand and pull her out of the cave. Then a Kami called Futodama put a Shimenaw rope over the entrance of the cave and said, “Do not enter the cave again.” The sun rose again.
Shimenawa is a rope with Shide. Shide (紙垂) is a gold zigzag shaped piece in the photo. It stands for thunder. Shide indicates sacredness as described in this post.
The dance of Ame no Uzume implies Mitama Furi. Mitama Furi is a way to come sprit alive. When we make a sprit come alive, we shake it. For example, sprit(s) of Kami is in Mikoshi in Matsuri and we shake the Mikoshi in order to come alive the sprit inside.
Ame no Uzume danced on the bucked. It’s a metaphor of the cave Amaterasu was in. When she danced on it, Amaterasu was “shaken” inside. What Susanoh did worn her out and Ame no Uzume made her come alive. It is believed that Iwato Gakure implies a solar eclipse. The sun was weak and they believed they had to make come alive to see it again.
Susanoh was ousted from Takama no Hara and he fights against a huge serpent to save his future wife. Don’t miss it. One of the most exciting story in Japanese mythology, BAAAH!!!