The Three Sacred Treasures of Japan

By | May 27, 2019

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Sanshu no jingi, The Three Sacred Regalia. Source: (

Many monarchies have regalia which represent centuries of tradition and history. These, such as in the United Kingdom include crowns, jewels, scepters, and orbs. But few are quite like the Imperial regalia of the Japanese Emperor. In fact, nobody, but the most senior Shinto priests and the Emperor has even seen them: The Sword, the Mirror, and the Jewel, known altogether the Sanshu-no-Jingi.

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Amaterasu emerging from the cave. (painted by Kunisada, 1855) Source: (Wikipedia)

The Legend

In legend, the Jewel with the Mirror were used to lure the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu-ōmikami from a cave when she hid there from her brother, Susanoo, the storm god thus darkening the world. Her reflection in the mirror drew her out. These and then the sword was then given by the gods (divine spirits called kami) to Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandson of with the authority to pacify Japan. These passed into the possession of Ninigi’s great-grandson, Jimmu the semi-legendary first emperor of Japan who ascended to the throne in 690 AD. The three treasures are said to have been bestowed upon him by the gods and are a confirmation of the emperor’s divine right to rule.

Even though the emperor in Japan today does not have any true power, these objects have continued to pass down to the ruler as a matter of tradition and continuity.