Ok, so here is the deal with Isejingu…
A long, long, loooooong time ago in, there was this Sun Goddess named Amaterasu-Omi-kami. She actually popped out of a tear from her father’s left eye when she was born, but its beside the point. Anyway, she was very beautiful and had this bright white face, so bright that the whole world was lit by it. She just spent most of her days chillin’ I guess with the other gods, maybe playing Hanafuda or doing whatever it is that gods do when they are not godding, and spent every night in sweet dreams. So, she had a little brother named Susanoo-no-Mikoto who, being the God of Storms, used to get really wasted and terrorize the heavens. On one of his drunken rampages, he trampled all over her rice fields and threw his own shit in all her irrigation ditches and even all over her temples and palaces. He was just fuckin’ everything up and she was all telling him to stop but he was just too hammered. The guy was so completely shit-housed that he somehow got his hands on skinned horse (yeah I don’t know why either) and threw it at three of Amaterasu’s maidens who had nothing to do with anything. They were just working at their looms and this giant skinned horse comes flying outta nowhere and shattered their looms sending splinters all up into their poor little momos and killing em all. Well that was the last straw. Amaterasu had begged her brother to stop but the guy was just fubar-ed. She totally broke down and in protest went and locked herself in a cave.
Well, needless to say, her brother felt like a douchebag the next morning but it was too late. The world had already plunged into darkness without the beaming white face of the Sun Goddess. Without her, everything began to wither and die. After a few weeks and months of this, all the gods started to realize that this total darkness shit wasn’t gonna fly. So a bunch of them got together one night over beers, and devised a plan to get Amaterasu back outta the cave. They came a with a pretty ingenious plan the revolved around a mirror.
So it must have been around this time of year, Winter Solstice they say, that all the Gods from back in the day all gathered in front of Amaterasu’s cave. The plan was to first set up a mirror across from the entrance. Then this really hot Goddess named Ame-no-Uzume, who had these huge watermelon-sized bazoongas, with these massive blinding high-beams, got up on this wash tub and started strip-teasing the boys who just went wild. She was the Goddess of Merriment after all. She got all of the gods hootin’ and hollerin’ of yellin’ and cheerin’ and laughin’. Amaterasu peeked out to see what the hubbub was about. She asked the nearest god what was going on and he replied that there was a new goddess in town. When Amaterasu asked where she was, he pointed to the mirror.
Amaterasu Omikami had never seen herself before and when she caught her reflection, she stared at the radiance of her own form. She was so surprised she said “omo-shiroi”, which means both “white face”, which the Omikami had, and “fascinating”. When she was out of the way, the God of Pro wrestling, Tajikara-O picked up the giant rock and shut the cave behind her. Having lured her out of the cave, the gods all convinced her to go back into the Celestial Plain and all life began to grow again and become strong in her light. Once back in the Celestial Plain, she made sure that she was ready for another of one of her brother’s drunken rampages again by having a bow and arrow at her side.
Later she sent her grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto to pacify Japan at a time when everybody had their fundoshis in a wad about something. His great-grandson ended up becoming the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. He had this badass sacred sword, a big fat jewel, and that original mirror. It all ended up later becoming the Japanese imperial regalia bling-bling.
A few hundred years later, one of Emperor Jimmu’s grandson’s ended up forgetting the sword somewhere in Kyushu, took the mirror up to Ise jingu and stashed the jewel somewhere is his fatcat palace in Tokyo.
So when you go to Isejingu, even though nobody has seen the mirror thats inside for like 1400 years, you are basically as close as you can get to the OG herself, Amaterasu Omikami.
Again, the obligatory tourist shot:
And Yasuko getting her Amaterasu Omikami on…