Amano Iwato and Amano Yasukawa

The cave from the legend of Amaterasu

By Ekaterina Bespyatova    - 2 min read

Amano Iwato Shrine, they say, stands on the very spot where Amaterasu the Sun Goddess hid herself from the world after getting upset with her brother, as narrated in one of the most popular Japanese legends. It is also here that all the other gods gathered in council and Ame-no Uzume performed her famous dance.

Every Shinto shrine has a holy object of worship that not only represents the enshrined spirit but also acts as a repository that literally holds the essence of the god. It’s called a go-shintai and most often is a man-made object: a mirror, a sword, and so on. But in some cases the go-shintai is part of the natural world: there are holy mountains, holy trees and holy waterfalls. In the case of Amano Iwato, it’s a holy cave—Amaterasu’s cave.

You cannot actually go there. You can’t even see it without a special guided tour with a priest—even then they only take you to a spot where you can peek at it from the opposite side of the river. But there’s another cave that you can see and enter—the one where the gods’ council took place—and it’s absolutely amazing.

It’s about a ten-minute walk from the main shrine complex, where the river gorge widens up a bit. The place is called Amano Yasukawara. There are hundreds of small cairns left by visitors, and the sight of the rock piles covering all the flat surfaces around is mesmerizing. There’s a torii gate and a shrine inside the cave itself. It’s famous as a “power spot,” a place where your wishes come true.

I don’t know about wishes, but the power of the place is almost tangible to me. I’ve been to Amano Iwato twice, and I think I’ll be back again.

Getting there

15-minute bus ride from Takachiho Bus Center (1-2 hourly intervals)

More info

Find out more about Amano Iwato Shrine.

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Ekaterina Bespyatova

Ekaterina Bespyatova @ekaterina.bespyatova

My name is Ekaterina and I enjoy looking at the world through my camera’s viewfinder. I travel a lot and capture what I find beautiful – in nature, culture, people. Japan is a place I have a special connection with – I’ve spent 7 years living in Tokyo and I’ve travelled across the country extensively, often to remote and less known locations. I have a large collection of photos from years of my Japan travels that I hope to eventually put online. And that collection constantly grows, because I always go back – there’s so much yet to discover. ​Check out my travel blog Amenohi Travels to see more. ​*** ​Здравствуйте, меня зовут Екатерина, и я люблю смотреть на мир через объектив фотоаппарата. Я много путешествую и снимаю то, что мне кажется красивым - природу, людей, созданное людьми. ​С Японией у меня давняя и глубокая связь. Я прожила 7 лет в Токио, объездила всю страну из конца в конец и регулярно возвращаюсь за новыми впечатлениями. За годы путешествий по Японии у меня скопилась большая коллекция фотографий, которые я планирую постепенно сделать доступными онлайн. Своими впечатлениями от поездок я делюсь здесь - а также на страницах своего сайта Amenohi Travels.

Original by Ekaterina Bespyatova