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Amaterasu - Japanese Goddess of the Sun

            Since the early stages of humanity, humans have used creation myths and legends to explain phenomena they could not decipher scientifically. Whether it be a myth about how the universe burst forth into existence, or how a zebra got its stripes, myths are used to explain what man cannot. The Japanese Shinto myth of the deity Amaterasu-O-Mikami is one of many stories that depict how natural phenomena, such as the sun, came to be. This worshipped and revered goddess of the sun, not only brought the bright star to our sky, but also became an iconic figure in Japanese culture. She represents a strong feminine leader, who helped women gain more respect in Japan's past and present society. .
             Amaterasu-O-Mikami is the celestial sun goddess of the Shinto religion. According to the book, Japanese Mythology A to Z by Jeremy Roberts, her name translates to "Heaven Shining Great Deity" (Roberts 4). She is one of the most worshipped beings in the Shinto's collection of gods, called the Shinto Pantheon (Roberts 4). The imperial family of Japan claims they are the descendants of this goddess, who is the most significant god of the heavens. The story of Amaterasu originated from one of the Shinto's sacred texts, the Kojiki. This book has a variety of myths and legends that starts with the creation of the world, gods, goddesses, and Japan (Roberts 4).
             According to the creation myth from the Kojiki, and the book, Japanese Mythology A to Z, Amaterasu is the child of the gods Izanagi and Izanami, both gods of creation. Izanami gave birth to the numerous islands of Japan, but died after giving birth to Kagu-tsuchi, the fire god. Izanagi tried to retrieve his wife from Yomi, the land of the dead, where she resided after her death. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful in his mission, for Izanami had eaten the food that was cooked in the underworld, meaning she could never return. When Izanagi was purifying himself upon his arrival from the underworld, Amaterasu was born from one of his eyes.

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