Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ise Grand Shrine in Japan is actually several shrines (over 100) all dedicated to the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu.  Therse shrines have been around quite a while (since at least 4 BC). 

What will you see whe you get here?  Nothing.  This is a very sacred place and you're not getting in there.  But if you could, the main shrine (Naikū) has a mirror.  Not just any mirror, the Yata no Kagami, the eight handed mirror from Japanese mythology.  Now mirrors are honored for their reflective honesty, but this one more than others.

Many years ago, Amaterasu went into a cave and decided not to come back out.  They used this mirror and the Yasakani no magatama (a special necklace of jade) to lure her out again (she's not the only goddess to do things for a necklace, a Norse goddess slept with ugly dwarves to get one).

Eventually the mirror was given to Amatersu's grandson when he went to Japan.  From there it went to the Imperial family.  Now, the Shrine houses it (the priest of the shrine must come from the Imperial family).

Since the sun is a symbol of birth and rebirth, the shrine itself goes through a birth and rebirth process every twenty years.  They tear it down and rebuild it.  The next time it will get rebuilt is 2013.

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