CURRENT STATUS: Full health after a good weekend!
Before I say anything, I want to say that this post is dedicated to a former-blogger-come-back and internet pal, Quodlibet. He was in Japan a few years back, and shared with me one of his more memorable trips within the country. Inspired, I decided I had to go check the place out for myself. This post is all about that.
Kyushu is an island with a lot of mythos about it. I’ve written about the set of mountains that are shaped like a resting Buddha, and about the Battleship Island, Gunkanjima. And let’s not forget that many of the backgrounds and scenery from the legendary Ghibli film Princess Mononoke were inspired by actual places on Yakushima Island in Kumamaoto, Kyushu. And did you know?? The author of the fantastical manga One Piece originally hails from Kyushu!!
Well a little while back, and after some chatting and story sharing with Quodlibet, I decided to take a trip down island to that little place called Takachiho. Not much there – lots of farms and trees and… oh yeah… THE CAVE OF THE SUN GODDESS AMATERASU!!
Click the image to see more work by Deviant Artist GENZOMAN and more info about Amaterasu!
Fellow Japanophiles will know that Amaterasu is the Shinto sun goddess. The Japanese Emperor is said to be a direct descendant of her. Japanophiles will also be aware of the old tale of Amaterasu’s brother Susano, and how he smashed Amaterasu’s rice fields and shrines in a drunken rage, going so far as to kill some of the goddess’s handmaids. (The two appear to have some sibling rivalry!) Angered, Amaterasu hid herself away in a cave and, being the sun goddess, plunged the world into darkness in the process.
This cave is referred to as Ama-no-Iwato (the Gate of the Celestial Rock Cave) … AND
…………………the path to said cave was under construction when I went.
…………………..u_u *face palm* :Q
Not a 15 minute’s walk from Ama-no-Iwato was the cave where people gathered to pray for Amaterasu to come out during her long hermitage…
The (other) Cave
…and it was there that I found a very interesting, little sight to be seen…
Can you see them?
Tens of thousands of tiny little rock statues…
…all built and lined up to pray that Amaterasu would come out of her cave and bring light back to the world.
Cute little stones, eh? Almost like something out of a Miyazaki Film!
“Super interesting!” I thought; especially since in Canada we have a very similar-looking type of statue:
While Inkushuk originally functioned as land markers used by First Nations Peoples boating up and down the coast (and nowadays most often as art), I felt that this similarity was pretty radical one. There have been times in human history when people miles and miles apart, totally separated by water and mountains, have conjured up very similar ideas. Uncanny, really. Or is it? Perhaps it’s all just part of our collective psyche… Collective Unconscious.
(Quadra Island, BC)
My party and I couldn’t help but participate in this centuries-old art.
As myself and Quodlibet have already, I totally recommend taking a trip down to Takachiho and the Ama-no-Iwato Shrine (Miyazaki Prefecture). For anyone interested in Japanese lore (and who happen to be in the area) it is a must. Hopefully you’ll be able to go when the road to Amaterasu’s cave is open.
Thank you to Quodlibet for the heads up on the place, and for sharing with me his stories of the time he spent there.
Peace out, all. Until next time.