The Pilgrimage to Ise
Early tribes of Japanese people frequently had women as chiefs. Mythology was used politically, changing with the ruling class and times. It was mainly used to control people and elevate the ruling class. Amaterasu, was the Sun Goddess, the deity from whom the emperors descended, and whom they jealously guarded.
One of the legends of Amaterasu: when she was displeased and hid in a cave, the people tried many times and ways to coax her out, finally hanging an octagonal mirror in front of the cave and telling her that they had chosen a new Goddess. Curious, she came out and saw her reflection for the first time. Pleased, she stayed with her people.
1. Shinto Shrine at Ise - Contains the octagonal mirror believed to contain Amaterasu's image. The shrine is a quiet study in rhythmic form and is totally rebuilt to exact specifications every 20 years since the 3rd century. Its simplicity represents purity and dignity.
2. Waves - Amaterasu was born of water.
3. Sun and rays - The emblem of Japan and Amaterasu.
4. Carp - Love, courage, endurance, dignity, good fortune, resignation to Fate.
5. Cherry tree - Prosperity and the flower emblem of Japan.
6. Stones and rocks - Sacred objects of Shintoism.
7. Pillar (tree) - Represents the presence of deity.
8. "Three Treasures" (Mirror, sword, jewel) - The Imperial families monopolized Amaterasu's cult until Medieval times and claimed these treasures.
9. Beads in circle - Continuity, endless duration.
10. Jewel - Hidden treasures of knowledge, truth, compassion, wisdom.
11. Sword - Courage, strength.
Legend of the Shrine of Ise:
"I wish to reside in this province of Ise where the divine wind blows and the waves from the eternal land dash repeatedly against the shore successively."