Amaterasu the Sun Goddess
Amaterasu (Amaterasu-O-Mikami) the sun goddess was born from Izanagi when he washed out his left eye while purifying himself after his journey to the underworld. Having been placed in charge of the heavenly realms, she attracted the jealousy of her younger brother, Tsukiyomi (Tsukiyomi-no-mikoto). With both of them vying for the responsibility and their arguments causing upheaval in the earthly realms it was decided that she should rule the day with her brightness and warmth, whilst Tsukiyomi should be in charge of the night, essentially separating the quarrelling siblings and restore peace. Amiterasu’s youngest brother ,Susa-no-o, was given the responsibility to rule the sea but instead of doing so he complained and wept, demanding to see his mother in the underworld. Before he departs he requests to bid his sister goodbye, and ascends to meet her in the heavenly realm. Amaterasu is suspicious of her brother, as he is known for his violent temper and guile.
As he approaches she arms herself, clad in armour and hair tied in war-like fashion. She grabs her quiver containing 1500 arrows and her sword and performs shiki, a ritualistic stamping of the feet into the ground, which is still performed by Sumo wrestlers today. To show his sister that he has no evil intent Susa-no-o suggests a friendly contest of exchanging items and producing offspring from them. Having won the contest by virtue of his sword fragments producing three female deities in Amaterasu hands compared to the five male deities produced by him with the jewels given by Amaterasu, he goes on a exuberant rampage, destroying rice fields and dykes and tops it off with a flayed horse being thrown into the weaving hall in the palace of Amaterasu. In protest she withdrew into a cave, taking the light with her and placing a massive boulder in front of the entrance.
Now that the world was without light, all despaired and calamities were mounting. the eight million Kami convened in the dry bed of the heavenly river to figure out what to do to get Amaterasu to leave the cave again and retake her place in the heavens. They commissioned the the smith kami Amatsumara to make a metal mirror and another kami to make long strings of magatama beads. Uprooting and then replanting a sacred evergreen sakari bush, they hung the jewel beads and blue and white cloth onto its branches in front of the cave. Ama-no-uzume, one of the most active, powerful and crafty female kami started dancing in front of the cave on an upturned bucket. Becoming ecstatic and dancing ever wilder and louder, she started to expose her breast and genitals, drawing laughter from the other kami. Intrigued by the commotion outside the cave Amaterasu went to the entrance to peer out, demanding to know what all the levity was about. Ama-no-uzume told her that they were happy as they had found a better deity than Amaterasu, then showed her the mirror. to have a better look she opened the cave further and was grabbed and pulled into the open by Amanotachikara-o-no-kami, the strong deity. Amenofutotama-no-mikoto, a ritual expert kami, swiftly closes the cave with a sacred robe, ensuring that Amaterasu stayed outside. Light returned to the land.
Amaterasu is the main Deity in Shinto, her main shrine at Ise is rebuilt every twenty years from plain wood harvested in a nearby sacred grove. The mirror (Yata-no-Kagami) and magatama beads (Yasakani-no-Magamata) are two of her sacred regalia the third being the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, a reconciling gift from her brother Susa-no-o.