immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)


Teaching Resources

Akakura Mountain Shrine

Sacred Beings


The Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom the Japanese imperial line claims descent, is venerated at Akakura Mountain Shrine.

The Kojiki recounts an episode in which Amaterasu, offended by the defiliments of Susano, retires into a cave, depriving heaven of her light. She is lured out by other gods, who errect a mirror at the cave's mouth, convincing her that she is confronted by a beautiful rival.

According to some accounts, the site of Akakura Mountain Shrine was determined through a revelatory vision of Amaterasu descending as a ray of golden light from the sky.

Amaterasu's presence is evoked each year at the Mountain Opening ceremony, as the congregation raises a sacred rice straw rope upon which is affixed the Japanese national flag, the Hinomaru, centered on the sign of the rising sun.

Related Internet Resources


"Alone among Women": A Comparative Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu Theology by MATSUMURA Kazuo


THE KOJIKI. The relevant sections of the Kojiki on Amatersu's retreat into, and emergence from, the cave are found in the Kojiki chapter "Door of the Heavenly Rock Dwelling":

SEE: Sacred Texts: Shinto
A very helpful on line compilation of sacred texts in Shinto and related Japanese religious traditions, including excerpted translations of the Kojiki, the Nihongi and the Yengishiki.

Amaterasu Omikami

This glossary entry is part of the Glossary of Shinto Names and Terms
(A helpful on line dictionary of Shinto terms, prepared by the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University.

Japanese Mythology

Click on "Amaterasu" or go directly to:

Goddesses of Mt. Fuji

This fascinating page (part of the Women's Early Art website) contains passages from "Sacred Mountains of the World," by Edwin Baldwin, University of California Press, 1997, about Konohana Sakuya Hime, the principal goddess of Mount Fuji.

Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University)