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Unformatted text preview: ar to consist of little more than torii. The Emergence of Japanese Civilization 13 Fig. 5 Torii at Miyajima in the Inland Sea (Consulate General of Japan, New York) After securing the submission of certain tribal deities in the “land of
luxuriant rice fields” (i.e., Japan), the Sun Goddess dispatched her grandson, Ninigi, to this land, commanding him:
Do thou, my August Grandchild, proceed thither and govern it. Go! and
may prosperity attend thy dynasty, and may it, like Heaven and Earth,
endure for ever.6 To seal her command, the Sun Goddess bestowed upon Ninigi a sacred
regalia, consisting of a Chinese-style bronze mirror, a sword, and a curved
jewel (magatama). Objects similar to those of the regalia have been found
in gravesites dating from the middle Yayoi period, and appear to have
symbolized local tribal rulership. In historical times, however, the mirror,
sword, and curved jewel have been used exclusively as tokens of the right
of the imperial family to rule. The mirror has been especially treasured
because it is believed—or was believed, until the end of World War II—to
represent the kami-body of the Sun Goddess. According to the mythology,
it was installed in a Shinto shrine at Ise after an emperor confessed that
he felt uneasy about having it nearby in the palace. The supreme sanctity of the Ise Shrine derives from the fact that since that time (or at least
from as early as we know) it has housed the sacred mirror of the regalia. 14 The Emergence of Japanese Civilization Ninigi descended from heaven to a mountaintop in southeastern
Kyushu, but seems to have done little to assert his rule over the “land of
luxuriant rice fields.” It was his great-grandson Jimmu who, after conducting a campaign to the central provinces, where he destroyed aboriginal enemies, performed rites to his ancestress, the Sun Goddess, that
signified his assumption of the status of first emperor of Japan. Sometime in the early historical period (the late sixth or early seventh centuries) the Japanese, under the influence of certain Chinese calendrical considerations, calculated the date of Jimmu...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13