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The statue of Ame-no-Uzume at Amanoiwato-jinja
Tablet at the Ama-no-Uzume shrine, Takachiho

Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto (天宇受売命, 天鈿女命?) is the goddess of dawn, mirth and revelry in the Shinto religion of Japan, and the wife of fellow-god Sarutahiko Ōkami. She famously relates to the tale of the missing sun deity, Amaterasu Omikami. Her name can also be pronounced as Ama-no-Uzume. She is also known as Ōmiyanome-no-ōkami, an inari kami possibly due to her relationship with her husband. [1][2]

Amaterasu's brother, the storm god Susano'o, had vandalized her rice fields, threw a flayed horse at her loom, and brutally killed one of her maidens due to a quarrel between them. In turn, Amaterasu became furious with him and retreated into the Heavenly Rock Cave, Amano-Iwato. The world, without the illumination of the sun, became dark and the gods could not lure Amaterasu out of her hiding place.

The clever Uzume overturned a tub near the cave entrance and began a dance on it, tearing off her clothing in front of the other deities. They considered this so comical that they laughed heartily at the sight.[3] This dance is said to have founded the Japanese ritual dance, Kagura.[4]

Amaterasu heard them, and peered out to see what all the fuss was about. When she opened the cave, she saw her glorious reflection in a mirror which Uzume had placed on a tree, and slowly emerged from her hiding spot.

At that moment, the god Ame-no-Tajikarawo-no-mikoto dashed forth and closed the cave behind her, refusing to budge so that she could no longer retreat. Another god tied a magic shimenawa across the entrance.[5] The deities Ame-no-Koyane-no-mikoto and Ame-no-Futodama-no-mikoto then asked Amaterasu to rejoin the divine. She agreed, and light was restored to the earth.

Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto is still worshiped today as a Shinto kami, spirits indigenous to Japan.[6] She is also known as Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, The Great Persuader, and The Heavenly Alarming Female.[7] She is depicted in kyōgen farce as Okame, a woman who revels in her sensuality.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Treasures of the Morikami". Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Iwato". Hamada City. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Frédéric, Louis (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Harvard University Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-674-00770-0. 
  4. ^ Lancashire, Terence (2004). "From Spirit Possession to Ritual Theatre: A Potential Scenario for the Development of Japanese Kagura". The Yearbook for Traditional Music (International Council for Traditional Music) 36. ISSN 0740-1558. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Addiss, Stephen; Groemer, Gerald; Rimer, Thomas, ed. (2006). Traditional Japanese Arts And Culture: An Illustrated Sourcebook. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0-8248-2878-3. 
  6. ^ "Tsubaki Sukeikai" (PDF). Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Herbert, Jean (2011). Shinto: At the Fountainhead of Japan. Taylor & Francis. p. 264. ISBN 0-203-84216-2. 

Littleton, C. Scott (2002). Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling. London: Duncan Baird Publishers. pp. 464–467. 

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