Many of Japan’s traditions and ideas are unfamiliar to those outside of Japan. Therefore, JAPAN Forward and Jinja Honcho have collaborated to bring readers an explanation of the key concepts of kami, matsuri, shrines, myths, and many other traditions and beliefs which form the core of Japanese culture.
The “Soul of Japan” series provides an introduction to Shinto and Ise Jingu, focusing in this segment on one of the earliest recorded stories of kami from the Kojiki and Nihonshoki.
Amaterasu-Omikami is considered the most revered ancestor of the Tenno — the Emperor of Japan — and symbolizes the unity of all kami.
The tale of her grandson, Ninigi-no-mikoto, begins with her sending him to pacify the terrestrial world. For this task, she endowed him with the mirror, the jewel, and the sword that appeared in the Amanono-Iwato story.
These are the Three Sacred Treasures, which comprise the Imperial Regalia of Japan and have been inherited to this day by the Imperial Household. Of these, she instructed him to place the sacred mirror in the Imperial Palace and worship it as he would her.
Amaterasu-Omikami also granted Ninigi-no-mikoto an ear of rice to give sustenance to the people. Ensuring that Japan would forever be looked after by her descendants and that her lineage might last in perpetuity, she sent Ninigi-no-mikoto to the terrestrial world with several distinguished kami to assist him.
Landing on the island of Kyushu, Ninigi-no-mikoto built his palace and there began the establishment of the nation of Japan.
In later years, the great-grandson of Ninigi-no-mikoto chose present-day Nara as the new site for the nation’s capital. There he was enthroned as the ﬁrst Tenno and proclaimed Japan a nation.
The modern Tenno is the 125th in an imperial lineage which can be traced directly back to Amaterasu-Omikami. Today, the Tenno exists as a symbol of the national character and traditions of Japan.
OTHER PARTS OF THE SOUL OF JAPAN SERIES:
- [Soul of Japan] What is Shinto?
- [Soul of Japan] Kami, the Divine Powers of Nature
- [Soul of Japan] Matsuri, The Sacred Rituals of Prayers and Festivities
- [Soul of Japan] Jinja: Places of Worship Infused with Nature’s Energy
- [Soul of Japan] The Divine Age of Shinto
- [Soul of Japan] Amano-Iwato, the Celestial Cave
- [Soul of Japan] Ise Jingu: a Place to Pray for the Imperial Family and the Nation
- [Soul of Japan] The Enshrinement of Amaterasu-Omikami at Jingu
- [Soul of Japan] Imperial Rituals of Matsuri at Jingu
- [Soul of Japan] Shikinen Sengu, the Ritual of Rebuilding and Renewal
- [Soul of Japan] Visiting a Jinja
Source: Jinja Honcho
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