Opening the Stone Door

Japonsko 2016

Zápisky, postřehy a fotky z mé cesty po Japonsku na podzim roku 2016.

Tento text je na blogu aj v slovenskom jazyku: Otvorenie kamenných dverí.

Takachiho is one of the most important places in Japanese mythology – goddess Amaterasu was hiding in the cave there. I was sent there by my two “Japanese grand fathers”, when I told them I was heading to Kyushu. They had no idea, how much this old story has been resonating with me for the past year. And I had no idea that the mythological cave story does exist in our real world.

Those important factual details can be found in my photos below. Takachiho is located in the middle of Kyushu, no trains and almost no bus connection either. A small town surrounded by mountains has one of the oldest shrines in Japan along with a beautiful canon with a wild mountain stream. I was lucky, as usual. On the way back from the river I found myself in a middle of a celebration in the shrine. I stayed there for a moment, watching ritual dances and then moved on with the parade to the center. After that I went back to the hills, seeking to find the mystical cave.

The legend says that one day Amaterasu, the goddess of sun, got really upset about the cruelty and brutality of this world and decided to lock herself up in the cave of Takachiho. The world got into the darkness and cold, so after some time gods realized they got a bit over the edge – the world will definitely come to its end without sun. But Amaterasu was determined to stay inside of cave and refused to return.

So the gods came up with a plan. They made a huge party in front of the cave – they drank, danced and sang. Amaterasu heard that noise, slightly opened the stone door of her hideout and she asked in surprise: “How is that, you are celebrating when there is no world without me? Have you gone crazy?” Another goddess answered to her: “One goddess came to us and she is much shinier and more beautiful then you are. We are celebrating to honor her.”

“Shinier and more beautiful than me? I want to see her.” said Amaterasu and opened the door a bit more. Other gods were prepared for that and put a mirror right in front of her. When Amaterasu saw that beauty and light she could have never imagine, amazed she made a step forward towards it. At that moment the gods blocked the way back to the cave and she had no choice but to stay in the world.

Well, maybe it was not so difficult for her, since she has already recognized her beauty and light and through herself she also realized the beauty and light of this world.

Later on, when first people appeared on earth, they started worshiping sun and Amaterasu sent then the mirror with the message “Revere this mirror as it were myself”.

There might not be a stronger or more instructive story in Japanese mythology than this one. There might not be in any other mythology.

Since those days mirror has been one the three Imperial Regalia of Japan and a very important symbol in Shintoism as well. In Ameno Iwato temple, there is mirror on every altar.

I dedicate this article and photos to Hiroshi and Hisashi – the two Japanese gentleman who always direct me right to places which I need to visit. And also to Donna, the young lady walking on “the floating bridge of heaven”.
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