UZUME – This daughter of the gods Izanagi and Izanami was the goddess of dancing, a skill that served her in good stead in two major Shinto myths. When the sun goddess Amaterasu had hidden herself away in a cave, Uzume danced naked as part of the plot concocted by the god of wisdom Omoigane to lure Amaterasu back out into the world.
In the other major myth Uzume is part of the retinue of the god Ninigi when Amaterasu sends him down to rule over ancient Japan. Their descent was blocked by Sarutahiko, the god who guards Ukihashi, the floating bridge between Takamagahara (“High Plain of Heaven”, the home of the Shinto deities) and the Earth. (Sort of a Shinto version of Heimdall, who guards the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard in Norse myths) This god was taking his duties so seriously he was even barring the way of Ninigi’s divine entourage until Uzume charmed him by dancing topless.
Sarutahiko fell in “love” with Uzume and she agreed to marry him in exchange for his vow of fealty to Ninigi. A 2,000 year old shrine at Tsubaki still honors this Shinto deity power couple, who are said to be the ancestors of the clan of Japan’s female Heian court dancers called the Sarume.
Uzume’s dances were also said to have the power to raise the dead in Shinto beliefs.
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