Amaterasu – The Goddess of the Sun

Thanks to many “adjustments” made due to political motives, past mythology experts, by drawing graceful genealogical trees (and, in some cases, very far-fetched), proved that bloodlines of imperial families originated from the Sun Goddess. The emperor was not without reasons holding the name of “the child of the Sun.”

For a long time Amaterasu was worshiped in palace temples, until the royal advisors came to the conclusion that it is politically incorrect for the emperor to worship another divine being while having divine origins himself.

Nevertheless, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu did receive compensation.

In order not to lose the blessings of the Goddess by hurting her pride, the temple in her honor was built outside the walls of the imperial palace. Main temple dedicated to Amaterasu is located in Ise, Mie prefecture, and is still one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan. The temple is built of wood and has not been changed in terms of architecture for centuries. Due to the instability of the wood as a construction material, the temple is being completely rebuilt every 21 years. This custom has been started in the 17th century. Previously, the total renovation of the temple in Ise was made every 20 years.

Ancient Japanese believed that Amaterasu has two “faces” – the good and the bad one, but bad, in contrast to other gods, does not bring death and destruction, but only suppresses growth stimulated by the good side of the Goddess. What is more, Amaterasu held not only the office of the Goddess of the Sun, but also was the queen of the priestesses – in this respect she was required to weave, with her priestesses-weavers, garments for the gods. In addition, within her weaving duties laid, as suggested by some authors, also creating garments for priestesses who led the ceremonies associated with the worship of the Sun.

The Mirror is an item strongly associated with Amaterasu, but I will tell more on that in the next post 🙂


  • Littleton C. Scott – Japanese Mythology
  • Delmer M. Brown – Introduction w „The Cambridge History of Japan – Ancient Japan”, Cambridge University Press
  • Matsumae Takeshi – Early Kami Worship w „The Cambridge History of Japan – Ancient Japan”, Cambridge University Press

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