The meaning of her full name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is “the great kami (goddess) who shines in the sky.”
Amaterasu is the goddess incarnate as the Sun who governs the Universe and the main deity of Japanese Shinto. The royal family of Japan is believed to be descended directly from this important goddess. She represents fertility and makes the plants that give life not only humans but also gods grow. As the guardian of the Japanese, she continues to be represented by the emblem of the rising sun on the Japanese flag.
According to Kojiki, Amaterasu was born when Izanagi, a primordial male deity washed his left eye during a purification process. Izanagi entrusted him with his necklace and he was given power over the heavens. His brother, the storm god Susanowo, was born when Izanagi washed his nose and was given the power of the oceans.
Some of the Amaterasu symbols are:
The original mirror that reflected Amaterasu was made by the blacksmith of the gods and is kept in the Grand Shrine in Ise in central Japan and is called Yata no Kagami. To this day, the sanctuary accepts visitors, and the building where the mirror is kept can be seen, although the mirror itself has been hidden for 1,500 years.
The mirror is said to have eight sides, as eight represents the number of perfection in Shinto. All mirrors are considered sacred to Amaterasu and it is a way to connect with her and reflect the state of the viewer’s soul.
A Japanese proverb says:
“When the mirror is dark, the soul is not pure.”
Necklace: As mentioned above, at the time of her birth, Amaterasu received the sacred necklace from Izanagi. A jewel in this necklace is also said to be enshrined in the Grand Shrine of Ise.
Amaterasu is the guardian of the Japanese and in her role as protector, the solar sword represents their martial attributes. It is also an indication of his ability to lead his people to war when necessary. The mirror, the necklace, and the sword are considered the three emblems of the Imperial Japanese Regalia and the three symbols of Shinto.
Shinto is the indigenous pre-Buddhist religion of Japan and is the most important religion today. It is worth noting that Japanese Shinto that focuses on honoring nature and the concerns of everyday life is frequently practiced with Buddhism, which focuses on the concerns of the afterlife.
Many Buddhist deities are also considered to be Shinto Kami (god).