Meoto Iwa

The Meoto Iwa (“Married Couple Rocks”) are two giant rock stacks on the sea shore of Futami, Ise. The larger rock, measuring 30 x 131ft, is known as o-iwa (“male rock”), and the smaller one is called me-iwa (“female rock”). Unlike Stonehenge, these rocks are natural formations. But like Stonehenge, they have deep spiritual significance. They are linked by a huge…

Ise Jingu Shrine 伊勢神宮

The Ise Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū), located in the city of Ise, Mie Prefecture of Japan, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Officially known simply as Jingū (神宮), Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū (内宮) and…

Amaterasu 天照

Amaterasu (天照), Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神/天照大御神/天照皇大神) or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami (大日孁貴神?) is a part of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is seen as the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. The name Amaterasu derived from Amateru means “shining in heaven.” The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami,…

Izanagi and Izanami

Izanagi (いざなぎ, recorded in the Kojiki as 伊邪那岐 and in the Nihon Shoki as 伊弉諾) is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and his name in the Kojiki is roughly translated to as “he-who-invites” or Izanagi-no-mikoto. He is also known as Izanagi-no-Okami. In Japanese mythology, Izanami-no-Mikoto (Japanese: 伊弉冉尊…

Kojiki 古事記

Kojiki (古事記 “Records of Ancient Matters” or “An Account of Ancient Matters”), also known as Furukotofumi, is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century (711–712) and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei. The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four…

Kagura dance

Kagura (神楽, かぐら, “god-entertainment”) is a Japanese word referring to a specific type of Shinto theatrical dance—with roots arguably predating those of Noh. Once strictly a ceremonial art derived from kami’gakari (神懸, かみがかり, “oracular divination”) and chinkon (鎮魂, ちんこん, “spirit pacification”), Kagura has evolved in many directions over the span of more than a millennium….

Shinto Shrine

A Shinto shrine (神社 jinja, archaic: shinsha, meaning: “place of the god(s)” is a structure whose main purpose is to house (“enshrine”) one or more Shinto (神道 Shintō) kami. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects, and not for worship. Although only one word (“shrine”) is used in English, in…

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto 月読尊

Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto or Tsukiyomi (月読 also known as Tsukiyomi-no-mikoto, 月読尊), is the moon god in Shinto and Japanese mythology. The -no-mikoto ending is a common honorific suffix for the names of gods, of similar meaning to “the grand, the great, the exalted”. The name “Tsukuyomi” is a compound of the Old Japanese words tsuku (月, “moon,…