Although mirrors have a high importance, most likely many people overlook them in a Shinto shrine. Usually mirrors are placed at the entrance of the most respected part of the shrine to highlight the religious setting. Mirrors are significant in Shinto, because the reflective surface is thought to be capable of revealing without prejudice the true aspect of any person or object placed before. Furthermore, the mirror is considered one of the three sacred objects (other two items: sword, jewel).
The first connection of Shinto with a mirror originates from early mythology: Legend holds that the sun goddess Amaterasu caused the world to become completely dark after taking refuge in a cave, because her god brother was ravaging around the earth causing much destruction. After her brother had calmed down, the goddess refused to come out of the cave. The other gods tried their best, but were unable to coax her from her hiding place, until music was played and a mirror was hung from a tree within sight of Amaterasu. The goddess was so intrigued by the reflected image of her beautiful face that she came out of the cave, bringing dawn back; therefore returning light to the world.
So do remember when you see a beautiful sunrise, it is all because of a mirror set at the right spot!
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤).
Do note further related readings to be found at: