For the Okami character, see this character page.
In the Japanese Shinto religion and mythology, Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun and ruler of Takamagahara, the heavens (or universe). Her full name is Amaterasu-Ohomikami or Amaterasu-Omikami, which means "Her Great Divine Augustness Who Shines Brightly in the Heavens." The earliest records of Amaterasu's worship date back to the 8th century text Kojiki, which is a collection of ancient myths and records.
Within the Shinto religion, Amaterasu is mainly dedicated at the Ise Grand Shrine complex in Ise City in southern Japan, southeast of Kyoto and Osaka. For at least 1,200 years this site has been a central location for Amaterasu's worship, though the complex also enshrines over 100 other gods and has been continually taken down and rebuilt every 20 years. Allegedly, the Ise Grand Shrine houses the Yata no Kagami, the sacred mirror--and one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan--used to lure Amaterasu out of her hiding in a cave.
Up until the modern era, the Japanese considered themselves to be descended from Amaterasu, especially the emperor, through the blood of the mythical first ruler of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. The idea would briefly survive the Westernization of Japan after the Meiji Restoration well into the rush of nationalism during World War II. With the victory of the Allied Forces in the Pacific, Emperor Hirohito was forced to deny his relation to Amaterasu with an issue known as the Humanity Declaration. However, through careful wording, Emperor Hirohito may have in fact not denied that the Japanese royalty were still descendants of the sun goddess, though this claim is not made by Japanese scholars. Additionally, to this day the clergy of the Ise Grand Shrine's inner cloisters, where the Yata no Kagami is purportedly kept, must come from the Japanese Imperial bloodline, though in modern times it is likely more out of tradition than an admittance of divine status.
Birth from Izanagi
After escaping from Yomi, land of the dead, and learning that his wife Izanami was now an evil, rotting manifestation of death, Izanagi initiated a purification ritual to cleanse himself of the underworld's darkness. From the acts of stripping his garments and washing his body, multitudes of gods were born.
In the the final step of the ceremony, Izanagi washes his face, which causes the most important gods to be created. From washing his left eye Amaterasu is born; from his right, Tsukuyomi; and from his nose, Susano-o. These gods referred to as Izanagi's "Three Precious Children," he gives them each power and dominion: Amaterasu, given a special jeweled necklace called the Yasakani no Magatama, would rule over the sun and heavens; Tsukuyomi, personage of the moon, would rule over the nighttime; and Susano-o was given the power of the seas and storms.
The Retreat into the Cave, Amano-Iwato
During a quarrel with Susano-o, the violent storm god destroyed many of Amaterasu's shrines and maidens, which frightened her and caused her to hide in a cave. However, because she is goddess of the sun, Amaterasu's disappearance prevented day from occurring and the world was swathed in darkness.
The gods enacted a plan to draw her back out. First, Ame no Uzume performed a show involving her dancing on a tub and ripping off her own garments. The other gods laughed uproariously at Ame no Uzume and, as predicted, the joyful noise it created made Amaterasu curious enough to peek out of the cave. Then, by way of the sacred Yata no Kagami mirror placed strategically by the other gods, Amaterasu saw her own grossly incandescent reflection and was drawn out to more closely examine it.
Quickly, the god Tajikarao closed off the cave behind her and prevented her from retreating back inside. Futotama-no-Mikoto then persuaded Amaterasu to join them again in the heavenly realm, to which she agreed. The cave into which Amaterasu fled is now known as Amano-Iwato, "Heavenly Rock Cave" or "Cave of the Sun God."
Other stories involving Amaterasu include her feud and marriage with Tsukuyomi when he killed the goddess of food, Uke Mochi, at a banquet. From that point on, Amaterasu would refuse to look upon Tsukuyomi, which is a mythological explanation for the natural phenomenon of the Moon trailing the Sun in the sky and day and night being separate.
Amaterasu would also encounter the Hare of Inaba in Western Japan. While traveling around with the other gods in Inaba looking for land to establish a palace, the Hare approached the party and bit off part of Amaterasu's garment, leading them to a high plain named Ise ga Naru. The gods established themselves there, and the Hare of Inaba disappeared.
The Founding of Yamato
Born around 700 B.C., Kamuyamato Iwarebiko, Amaterasu's great-great-great-grandson marked the end of the Age of the Gods. Together with his older brothers, Kamuyamato sought to reign over the ancient Japanese land. Unfortunately, they were defeated in battle by a warlord named Nagasunehiko because they fought towards the east, with the sun in their eyes. Amaterasu then sent the three-legged crow Yatagarasu to guide Kamuyamato to the eastern land of Yamato. Once there, Kamuyamato gathered his forces and attacked Nagasunehiko victoriously. Under the name Jimmu, he then assumed control over the entirety of Japan. Yamato to this day is a word that can refer to Japanese things in general.
In Shin Megami Tensei
Amaterasu is encountered frequently in the Shin Megami Tensei series, though not to the extent of figures like Cu Chulainn or Odin despite her status as the most important of the Japanese pantheon. She is always a Light-Law aligned demon as part of the Amatsu, Megami, or similar demon clans.
Amaterasu has been designed by Atlus artists Kazuma Kaneko and Shigenori Soejima for different games within the series. Kaneko's design, drawn for 1994's Shin Megami Tensei II, is the one most commonly seen and features her floating with a flowing robe and sun crown. This design also incorporates her wearing the Yasakani no Magatama necklace. Shin Megami Tensei II's versions of her brothers Tsukuyomi and Susano-o also feature them wearing the Yata no Kagami mirror and wielding the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi blade respectively, so the "Three Precious Children" of Izanagi are seen with one each of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan.
Shin Megami Tensei
Amaterasu technically makes her first appearance in the PC-Engine version of Shin Megami Tensei. She is level 60, and reuses the sprite shared by other Japanese goddesses like Kikuri-Hime.
Shin Megami Tensei II
Amaterasu appears in Shin Megami Tensei II as a level 59 demon of the Amatsu clan.
She is also in the center of a sidequest once Aleph reaches the Underworld, old Tokyo. A group of mutants plead to Aleph to revive the guardian spirit of Tokyo, Taira no Masakado, to restore order. Since the events of Shin Megami Tensei's bombing of Japan by ICBMs, the Kunitsukami, Japanese gods of earth, waged war on the Amatsukami, Japanese gods of heaven of whom Amaterasu is included. Masakado attempted to intervene between the two groups of gods, but his body was torn apart and scattered across the Underworld. The most mighty Amatsu gods, Take-Mikazuchi, Tajikarao, Tsukuyomi, Omoikane, and Amaterasu were then defeated and sealed within a cave.
Aleph finds the six body parts of Masakado across the Underworld by fighting Kunitsu gods such as Sarutahiko, Ooyamatsumi, Onamuchi, and Kotoshironushi. An NPC has the sixth piece, Masakado's head, and can be bartered with. Once all the pieces are found, the Master of the Cathedral of Shadows will fuse them together into a corrupted form of Masakado, who is bereft of his soul. However, the mutants Aleph talked to earlier hold Masakado's soul and once it is fused with his body, Masakado becomes pure again. He then helps Aleph break the seal on the cave where the Amatsu gods are imprisoned and Aleph can free them of their bindings one-by-one.
Amaterasu in particular will detail the circumstances of their imprisonment. Prior to the bombing of Japan in Shin Megami Tensei, which was initiated by YHVH and enacted by Thor posing as an American ambassador named Thorman, the Kunitsukami saw the coming chaos as the perfect chance to steal power from the Amatsukami, so they aligned themselves with YHVH's forces. With the help of the "Hebrew gods," the Kunitsukami then imprisoned the Amatsukami within the cave. Amaterasu laments what happened, promising to not let such things separate the two groups of gods again, and leaves to heal her wounds. The player also now has access to fuse the Amatsukami in the Cathedral of Shadows.
Shin Megami Tensei if...
In Shin Megami Tensei if..., Amaterasu is again part of the Amatsu clan, but this time is level 72. As if... uses a great deal of assets from previous games, Amaterasu uses the same sprite from Shin Megami Tensei II. She can be fused by combining Tsukuyomi and Susano-o.
Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis
Amaterasu is the highest level demon of the Tenjin clan in Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis. Like many demons in Spiral Nemesis, Amaterasu's sprite is all-new and features a unique-but-similar design with sun crown and flowing robe.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner
In Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner, the inaugural entry in the Devil Summoner spinoff series, Amaterasu is a representative goddess of one of three skill paths available for the protagonist's partner, Rei Reiho, the other two being the goddess Ishtar and the angel Gabriel. She appears in an in-game FMV but does not otherwise appear in the game.
Giten Megami Tensei
In the obscure PC release Giten Megami Tensei: Tokyo Mokushiroku, the sun goddess is part of the Megami clan, using her Shin Megami Tensei II design. She is the second most powerful goddess in the game, second only to Ishtar.
Shin Megami Tensei: NINE
Shin Megami Tensei: NINE marks the first appearance of Amaterasu rendered in 3D, based on her Shin Megami Tensei II artwork. Again part of the Amatsu clan and its most powerful member, she is level 76 with high elemental resistances and access to skills like Megidolaon and Diarahan.
She also appears in Shin Megami Tensei Online: IMAGINE, as much of that game's assets are taken from NINE.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's iteration of Amaterasu is unusual, as she is depicted wearing garments closer in appearance to the shirts and pants seen on 6th century Japanese statuary. Also unorthodox is that she is part of the normally all-male Deity clan. She can be encountered in random battles in Masakado's Bandou Shrine at the end of the game, which too is a special case as normally Light-aligned demons are not encountered in the series outside of boss fights.
Amaterasu can only be fused via a triple sacrificial fusion. While visiting the Cathedral of Shadows at the Full Kagutsuchi phase, the player must combine (Avatar) Yatagarasu and (Kishin) Take-Mikazuchi and then sacrifice (Megami) Ame no Uzume. Amaterasu starts at level 56 and voids Fire, Expel, and Death.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
In Persona 4, Amaterasu appears as the second form of Yukiko Amagi's Persona, taking the place of Konohana Sakuya. Yukiko acquires Amaterasu if the player maxes out Yukiko's Social Link. Soejima's design builds on Konohana Sakuya's, but makes her body glowing and luminescent.
Amaterasu allows Yukiko to learn high-level fire and healing spells, such as Maragidyne and Salvation, respectively. While Amaterasu will now void fire attacks, she retains Konohana Sakuya's weakness to ice.
Devil Survivor includes Amaterasu as a level 63 Megami, though Devil Survivor: Overclocked bumps her level up to 73. She also appears in Devil Survivor 2, again as a Megami, but this time at level 77.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Amaterasu is a level 79 Megami. Like in Nocturne, she has natural immunities to Fire, Expel, and Death. She comes with the abilities Maragidyne, Mediarahan, and Debilitate and her Demon Source will infer the skills Salvation and Repel Fire.
Amaterasu is also at the center of one of the game's many EX missions, called "Marebito, the foreign god." Beginning in Sector Eridanus, the player can encounter Ame no Uzume on the second floor of the sector's central tower, who tells that Amaterasu has gone missing and asks the player to help find her with the aid of the Demonica Suit's applications.
Ame no Uzume mentions the player seek the help of Ame no Futotama, who is on the first floor of the next sector, Fornax. He also cannot find hide nor hair of Amaterasu, admitting that she must be wearing something called the Marebito Robe. Seeking the player's help as well, Futotama hands over the Tamashiro Mirror, which will reflect her true form.
Based on clues from both gods, the location of Amaterasu's hiding is back in Eridanus. Indeed, only a few steps away from where Ame no Uzume recruits the player is a fake wall that leads to a scannable unknown demon. This is revealed to be the mysterious robed and spherical-headed figure named Kinmamon, who is mumbling incoherently about joining the "central mothers." The player can then hold up the Tamashiro Mirror to Kinmamon, exposing Amaterasu under the costume. After a short reunion with Ame no Uzume and Futotama, Amaterasu explains that she was drawn uncontrollably to the Schwarzwelt out of a desire to become one with the mother goddesses. This vignette may refer to the long-obscured and ancient relationship between Amaterasu and Kinmamon, the latter of whom is refered to as "Marebito."
Before the gods leave for Takamagahara, they reward the player with the Sound Jewel, which can be modified by Irving to add Gate Search E to the Demonica Suit.