Thursday, 18 October 2012

Amaterasu Omikami 天照大神

I have chosen five final Kami to look at and research in more depth for the sake of this brief. I want to collect as much context for each one as possible, so that my illustrations will be informed and accurate.

Amaterasu Omikami 天照大神
As Amaterasu is the godess of the sun and universe and the most known deity of Japanese mythology, I thought it essential to include her in my final illustrations. Her name derived from 'Amateru' which means 'shining in heaven'. The meaning of her full name Amaterasu-ōmikami means 'The great August Kami who shines in heaven'. The emperor of Japan is said to be a direct descendant of Amaterasu. 

She is the sister of Susanoo, god of sea and storms, and Tsukuyomi, god of the moon. All three were born from Izanagi (the first man). Amaterasu labelled her brother and husband, Tsukuyomi as evil after he killed the godess of food, Uke Mochi, which separated night from day/ sun from moon. 

Amaterasu fell out with Susanoo after she challenged him to prove his sincerity, and there were differences in opinion on the winner. So he went on a rampage and destroyed her rice fields. In reaction to this, she hid from him in a 'heavenly rock cave' Iwayato, which hid the sun for a long period of time. Susanoo was punished by being banished from heaven which is called Takamagahara, but they later reconciled when he gave her the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi sword. 

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. As part of the Shinto faith, a ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu is held every 20 years to honor Amaterasu.

To worship just Amaterasu, excluding all other Kami is known as 'the cult of the sun'.

Amaterasu is played by Kyōko Fukada in the film Onmyoji II, which also includes a Yamata-no-Orochi, an eight headed, eight tailed serpent/ dragon like creature. 

Susanoo slaying the Yamata-no-Orochi by Utagawa Kunitero 歌川国輝 (1808-1876).

In the 2006 video game Okami, Amaterasu is depicted as a white wolf with red markings, although this is not true to the traditional Shinto faith.

Deviant art of Lady Amaterasu in the Okami video game.

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