I fled to a rock cavern after my brother, Susa the Impetuous, came to the High Heavens and wrecked havoc, tangling me in the threads of my loom.
I went inside and rolled a rock in front of the cave’s mouth. All went dark outside. In the cavern, bright light streamed from my body in rays. Pools of water gleamed on the floor, slime upon the walls glistened with many colors, and the small rock-plants flourished in the sudden heat. Wherever I am, there is beauty, and so I lay in a bower and slept.
I awoke to the song of the Eternal Singing Birds. I raised myself up. My heart went out to the poor birds who sang in the long night.
Then I heard the sound of dancing and high revel. The gods were merry in the dark. Why? I sat still and listened. The Plain of High Heaven shook, and the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities all laughed together. I rose, went to the door of the cavern, and rolled back the great stone a little way.
I stood, panting, in all my array, and a beam of my light fell upon a maiden who was dancing before me. The other deities were in darkness and they had gone silent. Then I spoke: “I thought that because I had hidden myself, the Plain of High Heaven would have gone dark, and black dark would come to the Land of Reed Plains. How, then, does the Dancing Maiden perform, adorned with garlands? And why do the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities laugh together?”
Then the Dancing Maiden said: “O Thine Augustness, we rejoice and are glad because there is a goddess more illustrious than thyself.”
Fury and grief rose in me. I covered my face with my long sleeves so that the deities should not see the tears that rolled down my cheeks like falling stars. Then the youths of the Court of Heaven stood by the sakaki tree and they cried, “Lady, look and behold the new paragon of Heaven!”
At first I refused to look, but then I let slip the sleeves that covered my face. I gazed at the bright one in the tree. I was so dazzled by her beauty that I came forth slowly from the rocks of the cavern. My light flooded High Heaven, and below the rice ears waved and shook themselves, and the wild cherry rushed into flower. And all the deities joined their hands in a ring about me, Ama Terassu, Goddess of the Sun. Then the Dancing Maiden cried, “O Lady, Thine Augustness, you have seen your own reflection in the mirror! How could any Deity be born to compare with thee, the Glory of Heaven?”
So with joy they bore me back to my place in High Heaven.
Ama Terassu, Goddess of the Sun. The Story of Susa, the Impetuous, Japanese Fairy Tales. Illustration by Warwick Goble.