Amaterasu – The Japanese Sun Godess

Amaterasu emerges from the cave. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Amaterasu emerges from the cave. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

As you might already know, in Japan there are two main religions: Buddhism and Shintoism. The lines between these two religions are sometimes very blurred, and it’s hard to distinguish what part of a tradition comes from where. And at other times it is clear as day. One thing that is clear is the gods, or Kamis, of Shinto, with their leader at the top: Amaterasu (天照), or Amaterasu Ômikami (天照大神).

The name Amaterasu can be translated into “shining in heaven”, and Amaterasu Ôkami can be translated to “Great Kami that shines in heaven”, and is a more than fitting name for the Shinto deity of the Sun and the Universe. It is also believed that the Emperors of Japan have all been direct descendants from Amaterasu.

The oldest stories of Amaterasu can be found in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki (the two oldest records of Japanese history). She is the sister of Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon and the night. These three siblings were all born of a higher deity named Izanagi-no-Mikoto (one of the Gods that is said to have created the islands that today make up Japan) after he had been through the Underworld. While purifying himself, Amaterasu was born when he washed out his left eye, Tsukuyomi was born from the washing of the right eye, and Susanoo from the washing of the nose.

Amaterasu and other Kamis (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Amaterasu and other Kamis (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

It is believed that Amaterasu and her brother (and husband) Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon and night, where to rule the heavens together. However, one day Tsukuyomi killed the god of food, Uke Mochi, because he was disgusted with how she produced the food. (She either threw it up, or blew it out of her nose.) When Amaterasu found out what her brother had done, she refused to look at him, and labeled him as an evil god, and split night from day.

Amaterasu also bickered and fought with her other brother Susanoo a lot. One event that is told about is when Susanoo became restless and decided to go on a rampage. This rampage led to Susanoo destroying Amaterasu’s rice fields, killing her servants, and throwing a horse into her loom. Amaterasu, full of fury and grief, decided to hide in a Ama-no-Iwato (天岩戸, “the heavenly cave”), and there was no sun anymore. Not until the rest of the Kamis had managed to cheer her up again, and Susanoo apologising to her by giving her the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (one of Japan’s Imperial Regalia), did she decide to come back out, and the sun was back. (According to some stories, the famous Onmyodo practitioner Abe-no-Seimei also helped cheering up Amaterasu.)

The temple for worshiping Amaterasu is in Ise, in Mie Prefecture. It is said that the three Regalias of Japan, the mirror, the jewel, and the sword, are all housed at this shrine.

Amaterasu from the game "ôkami" (Photo courtesy of, all rights reserved by Capcom)

Amaterasu from the game “ôkami” (Photo courtesy of, all rights reserved by Capcom)

Since Amaterasu is one of the three main Kamis in Japanese culture, she has also been the inspiration on popular culture. Her name appears as a fire technique in “Naruto”, and in “One Piece”. There are cards named after her in “Yu-Gi-Oh” and “Cardfight!!! Vanguard”. And the Capcom game “Ôkami” has Amaterasu herself as the protagonist, in her wolf-shape. Even the Canadian/American Sci-Fi-series “Stargate SG-1” has Amaterasu as a minor antagonist.

The sun has played a big role in many religions and cultures, and as you can see Japan is no exception. So next time you are outside and feel the warm sun on your skin, it might just be Amaterasu showing her warmth. ^_^

A Geek In Japan – Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony

Another book from our mini- library that you have to check out!


Author: Hector Garcia
ISBN 978-4-8053-1129-5
Tuttle Publishing

Chapter 1 – The Origins of Japanese Culture
Chapter 2 – The Traditional Arts & Disciplines
Chapter 3 – The Unique Japanese Character
Chapter 4 – Curiosities & Symbols
Chapter 5 – The Japanese at Work
Chapter 6 – Japanese Society & Daily Life
Chapter 7 – Japan Today
Chapter 8 – The World of Manga & Anime
Chapter 9 – Modern Japanese Music
Chapter 10 – Movies & Television
Chapter 11 – Visiting Tokyo
Chapter 12 – Traveling Around Japan

This book, A Geek In Japan, reinvents the culture guide for the Internet age. Packed with articles and photographs, it ranges from the touchstones of traditional culture like bushido, geishas, Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism to chapters on traditional arts and disciplines like ukiyo-e, ikebana, Zen meditation, martial arts, and the tea ceremony. There are also cultural code words and values; society and daily life; business and technology; the arts; and symbols and practices that are peculiarly Japanese. A quarter of the chapters are devoted to pop cultural genres, with attention to the stars, idols, and urban subcultures – otakus, gals, lolitas, visual kei, and cosplay – associated with them. For visitors to the country, the author includes a mini-guide to his favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo as well as tips on other places of outstanding interest.





We are very excited to share with you this amazing event. Nippon Collection will be holding their first….

KIMONO salon ~for beginners~


Date: May 24th (Saturday) & 25th (Sunday)12:00-18:00

(You will be asked to pay a drink fee of 500 yen at the door)

Venue: 105, 3-28-5 Chidagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

You will get:

→ Cheap but good quality KIMONO and YUKATA (casual type of Kimono for the summer)!
→ One and only Japanese designer’s accessories!

There will be English speaking KIMONO advisers who will help you find the best KIMONO style! You can also chat with everyone over a nice cup of Japanese tea!

Click here for more information →
Or contact Nippon Collection at →
Click the join button here →

Don’t forget to like Nippon Collection’s page on Facebook!

Koinobori 鯉のぼり

Koinobori, which in Japanese means “carp streamer,” can often be found hanging in front of houses, shops and rivers around this time. These carp streamers that are made by drawing carp patterns on cloth (or paper), are hung to celebrate Children’s Day on May 5th, the last day of Golden Week.

In the past, Children’s Day was actually celebrated to honor boys. The carp was chosen as a symbol for this day because of its strong will and great power to swim up the river, against the flow. Adults hoped that boys would grow to become determined and courageous like carps. On the other hand, Hinamatsuri or Doll’s Day on March 3rd was celebrated to honor girls. Traditionally, on this day, girls would receive dolls that were passed down to their own grandmothers and mothers.

Although there is still a tendency among many Japanese families to celebrate boys on Children’s Day, it has definitely become a more general event for all Japanese children. Happy Children’s Day to all the children in Japan and around the world!

Koinobori made by children from an elementary school near Mitakadai in Tokyo.

Check out this traditional Children Day’s song!

The Book of Tea

The Book of Tea written by Kakuzo Okakura (or Okakura Tenshin, as he is known in Japan) is a beautiful book about the spirit of chanoyu (the practice of Japanese tea ceremony).

This book was first published in English in 1906, not long after Japan surprised the world by defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War that ended in 1905. It is said that Okakura wrote this book in an attempt to expose to the West a more delicate and traditional side of Japan and to show that despite Japan’s rapid modernization and growing economic and military power, Japan was and still is an aesthetically beautiful nation.

Although Japanese tea ceremony today is mostly practice by women, it is originally and traditionally a practice that the samurai warriors engaged in. Through this book, Okakura provided the West with an alternative vision of Japanese warriors and also for modernized Japan, which at that time was striving to become like the “masculine” West.

Today, even 100 years after this book was published, people still turn to this book to learn about Japanese cultures and values. Although times have definitely changed and the practice of tea ceremony itself may not be as common and popular anymore, this book continues to provide an insight of the way Japanese people perceive beauty.

This version of “The Book of Tea” that we have in our library is also perfect for those who are studying Japanese as it is written in both Japanese and English. When you open a page, you will find the Japanese translation on the left and the original passage written in English on the right. How convenient!


Bushido – The Soul of Japan

Starting from today, we will be introducing the books that we are available in our mini-library. We recently bought a number of Japan-related books and we hope that we can slowly add more to our collection. If you have any books that you would like to recommend to us (related to Japan of course!), please let us know through g-mail, twitter or facebook!

Today we will be introducing the book:


“Bushido – The Soul of Japan”

by Inazo Nitobe

If you have watched “The Last Samurai” or any other movie related to samurais and samurai culture, you probably have heard the characters mention at some point, the idea of bushido.

Bushido which implies “the way” of the samurai life is similar to the term “chivalry,” in that they both refer to a warrior’s moral code of conduct.  However, the Japanese bushido is slightly more complicated and particular.

The seven virtues of bushido, according to Inazo Nitobe are:

  • Justice – 「儀」 (ぎ・gi)
  • Courage – 「勇」 (ゆう・yu)
  • Benevolence – 「仁」 (じん・jin)
  • Politeness – 「礼」(れい・rei)
  • Sincerity- 「誠」 (まこと・makoto)
  • Honor- 「名誉」 (めいよ・meiyo)
  • Loyalty – 「忠義」 (ちゅうぎ・chugi)

In this book, Nitobe first thoroughly examines each of these virtues. He then goes on to explain how these virtues are strongly rooted in Japanese society and provides his insight on the future of bushido.

It is interesting to note that Inazo Nitobe, who was an educator and civil servant to the Meiji government, wrote this book in English in 1900. Like Tenshin Okakura, who wrote “The Book of Tea” first in English as well, he hoped that he could be some kind of bridge between Japan and the West. Since Japan at this time was rapidly Westernizing and constantly trying to promote itself as a modernized nation like the West, books such as “Bushido” and “The Book of Tea” were read with great fascination as it exposed the more traditional and delicate side of Japanese culture.

Students of COSMOS may borrow this book and any of the other books in our collection 🙂

HELLO! はじめまして!

COSMOS is a Japanese language school located in Hanzomon, Tokyo.

The founder of COSMOS established this school recently as a second job in hope to support foreigners living in Japan, especially those who intend to stay here for a longer period of time.

Because we are a start-up company and it has only been several months since we opened this school, we must admit our school is not very big. We are located in a room in an apartment, just a minute away from Hanzomon station. However, we take great pride in being able to provide our students quality Japanese language classes in a comfortable and “at-home” environment.

For those who are new to Japan or for beginner Japanese language learners, you are pretty much in charge of what you want to learn and what you want to focus on in class. If you speak basic Japanese but aren’t so confident in reading and writing, we will prepare exercises for you that will help you improve those skills. If you on the other hand, have studied Japanese through textbooks but cannot form sentences quickly when trying to speak Japanese, we provide more conversation-based classes, using various topics and settings.

For those who have studied Japanese for years and are hoping to either brush a certain skill or learn advanced Japanese, we have classes that focus on analyzing newspaper articles or writing essays. If you have a specific curriculum that you would like to follow, that is also possible. Just consult with us first so that we can provide a great class for you.

Plus regarding homework, that is completely up to the student if she/he wants it or not. We are very flexible when it comes to our student’s needs as well as their schedule so if that’s the kind of school you are looking for, please drop by sometime and take a class!

If you would like to register for a free trial, please contact us at the following address: