Quick Facts – The Japanese Goddess Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto

Copyrighted and written by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014

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Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto or simply Uzume is the Shinto Goddess of myrth, revelry, dawn and dance. She is also praised as “the Heavens’ forthright female”. As a reference to her capacity as a Goddess of dance Uzume translates to “whirling”. A name suiting her well, since she is also associated with life-giving streams and waters. Lore has it that when Susano, God of storm, vandalized the Sun-deity Amaterasu’s rice fields, she withdrew into a cave and refused to come out until he had apologized. The world was thrown into darkness and despair. The Gods could not convince her to return to earth, but clever Uzume turned over a large tub near the cave entrance and began a whirling, joyful dance atop it. When the sound of feet on the tub was not enough to lure Amaterasu out of her hiding place, Uzume began tearing off her clothes, prompting the crowd to cheer and laugh. Curious now, Amaterasu carefully peered out of the cavern entrance and found herself face to face with her own reflection in a mirror placed at the cavern entrance by Uzume. Thus Uzume convinced Amaterasu to return into the sky instead of hiding her beauty and light away.
As a reward for restoring the world to balance, her brother Ninigi married Uzume to the God who guards the Floating Bridge to Heaven.
The dances of Uzume are still found in today’s folk rite of waking the dead, the one of planting seeds and the Kagura, traditional dance-mime.

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