The True Meaning of Putting a Mirror in Front of a Kamidana


One of the reasons why a mirror is put at shrines or in front of a kamidana (神棚), a household shinto altar, is in the strory of Yatano-kagami(八咫鏡)that appears in Kojiki(古事記) and Nihon-shoki(日本初期), the oldest Japanese books in existence. According to myths, when the offsprings of Amaterasu-oho-mi-kami(天照太御神)descended to the World of Reality, she left them with a mirror, saying “I want you to think of it as me and cherish it.”

  • appear 登場する
  • myth 神話
  • offspring 子孫
  • descend 降りてくる
  • leave A with B  AをBに預ける
  • think of A as B AをBと考える
  • cherish 大事にする

I feel a spiritually deep meaning in her saying. Anybody standing in front of a mirror can only look at themselves in the mirror. Those who don’t can’t. The words “I want you to think of it as me” is the declaration “human beings standing in front of the mirror are Amaterasu-oho-mikami herself.”

  • meaning 意味
  • declaration 宣言

That is, Amaterasu-oho-mi-kami, the Sun God, lies in everybody as Inner God and as long as you direct your mind to God, her divinity manifests itself on you just as you are projected onto the mirror. You’re not just being aware.

  • Inner God 内在神
  • as long as S+V SがVする限り
  • direct 向ける
  • divinity 神性
  • manifest oneself 顕現する
  • aware 気がついて

In ancient times, there used to be ape men, who were the origin of us human beings. One day, as the result of the mind of God being projected onto the physical bodies of ape men, human beings were born. Because of the projection, or because Inner God entered into their hearts, ape men were abel to change into human beings. Otherwise, they would have remained ape men. The description in the myths of the transfer of the mirror from Amatearsu-oho-mi-kami to her offsprings is the metaphorical expression of this change.

  • ancient 古代の
  • ape men 猿人
  • result 結果
  • otherwise さもないと
  • otherwise さもなければ
  • remain 残る
  • description 描写
  • metaphorical 比喩的な
  • expression 表現

What’ important is not to put a mirror in front of the kamidana but to remember, every time you stand in front of the mirror, that Amatearasu-oho-mi-kami lies in you. The mirror is nothing more than a symbol. If you know this meaning, you don’t need the mirror. Tanabata Festival is held today. Amaterasu-oho-mi-kami may be easy to appear from the bottom of your heart.

  • not A but B  AではなくB
  • remind oneself of A  Aを想起する
  • nothing more than A  A以上のものではい
  • bottom 底

生かして頂いて ありがとう御座位ます

I Ka Shi Te I Ta Da I Te    A Ri Ga To U Go Za I Ma Su

Thank you so much for keeping me/us alive.

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