Grander mythological and supernatural themes were often depicted using a larger format, that of the triptych. Our selection includes three important prints of this genre – Nitta Shiro Tadatsune Encounters the Spirit of Mount Fuji (more), The Emergence of Amaterasu from the Cave (more) and Abe no Yasunari and the Fox Lady Tamamo no Mae.

Nitta Shiro Tadatsune Encounters the Spirit OF Mount Fuji

On a hunting trip on Mount Fuji with the first of the shoguns Minamoto Yoritomo, the 12th c. samurai Nitta Tadatsune and his band of warriors discovered an intriguing cave. The cave led them through dark and fearful caverns with interior waterfalls. In the depth of these caverns Tadatsune encountered a female spirit, whom Shinto identifies as the spirit of Mount Fuji and the Buddhists as Kannon. Many of Tadatsune’s men died in these treacherous regions. Tadatsune was gifted by the siprit and commended for his courage.

The Emergence of Amaterasu From the Cave

Amaterasu is the goddess of the sun in Shinto. Following a dispute with her brother, Susanoo, the storm of summer, and the latter’s consequent act of rage, Amaterasu is said to have hid herself in a cave, throwing the world in darkness for a long time. All the gods and goddesses strove to coax Amaterasu out of the cave, but she refused to be drawn. Finally, the kami of merriment, Ame-no-Uzume, placed a large bronze mirror on a tree, facing Amaterasu's cave. Then, Uzume clothed herself in flowers and leaves, overturned a washtub and began to dance on it, drumming the tub with her feet. Amaterasu peeked out of curiosity, and a ray of "dawn" light escaped from the cave. Amaterasu beheld her reflection in the mirror was dazzled by the beautiful goddess she saw. The god Ameno-Tajikarawo pulled her from the cave and the gods sealed it shut so she could not return. Surrounded by merriment, Amaterasu's depression disappeared and she agreed to return her light to the world. Uzume was from then on known as the kami of dawn as well as mirth.