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Amaterasu


Amaterasu (天照), Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神/天照大御神?) or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami (大日孁貴神) is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. The name Amaterasu derived from Amateru meaning "shining in heaven." The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is "the great august kami (Gama or God) who shines in the heaven". The Emperor of Japan is said to be a direct descendant of Amaterasu. She became the ruler of the sun and the heavens along with her brother, Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon and ruler of the night. Originally, Amaterasu shared the sky with Tsukuyomi, her husband and brother until, out of disgust, he killed the goddess of food, Uke Mochi, when she pulled "food from her rectum, nose, and mouth". This killing upset Amaterasu causing her to label Tsukuyomi an evil god and split away from him; separating night from day. According to legend, Amaterasu bequeathed to her descendant Ninigi the Yata no Kagami mirror, Yasakani no Magatama jewel or orb, and the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi sword. This sacred mirror, jewel, and sword collectively became the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. The Ise Shrine located in Honshū, Japan houses the inner shrine, Naiku dedicated to Amaterasu. Her sacred mirror, Yata no Kagami is said to be kept at this shrine as one of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. At this shrine, a ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu is held every 20 years to honor Amaterasu. The main shrine buildings are destroyed and rebuilt at a location adjacent to the site. New clothing and food is then offered to the goddess. This practice is a part of the Shinto faith and has been practiced since the 690s.

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