Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE ENSHRINEMENT OF AMATERASU


('Nihongi,' I, 175-6)

The following entry in Nihongi (see P. 94), for the twenty-fifth year of the Emperor Suinin's reign (5 B.C. " according to traditional dating but more probably around A.D. 260), describes the founding of the great shrine to Amaterasu at Ise. The moving of the Sun Goddess no doubt refers to the transporting of the mirror thought to be her embodiment.

Third month, 10th day. The Great Goddess Amaterasu was taken from [the princess] Toyo-suki-iri-hime, and entrusted to [the princess] Yamato-hime no Mikoto. Now Yamato-hime sought for a place where she might enshrine the Great Goddess. So she proceeded to Sasahata in Uda. Then turning back from thence, she entered the land of Omi, and went round eastwards to Mino, whence she arrived in the province of Ise.

Now the Great Goddess Amaterasu instructed Yamato-hime saying: 'The province of Ise, of the divine wind, is the land whither repair the waves from the eternal world, the successive waves. It is a secluded and pleasant land. In this land I wish to dwell.' In compliance, therefore, with the instruction of the Great Goddess, a shrine was erected to her in the province of Ise. Accordingly an Abstinence Palace was built at Kawakami in Isuzu. This was called the palace of Iso. It was there that the- Great Goddess Amaterasu first descended from Heaven.


Adapted from Aston's translation, by Wm. Theodore de Bary (ed), Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), PP. 34-5

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