The story of Amano-Iwato begins with the tale of the divine couple, Izanagi-no-kami and Izanami-no-kami,who give birth to the Japanese islands and various other kami in the time after heaven and earth become separated.
Among their descendants were three venerable kami. The first, Amaterasu-Omikami, whose name is a title literally meaning “great kami who lights the heavens”, is associated with Takamanohara, the Celestial plain. The second, Tsukiyomi-no-kami , is associated with the moon and the night and the third, Susano’o-no-kami, is associated with the sea.
Of these three, Susano’o-no-kami did not properly tend to his duties and abandoned the sea despite being admonished. He then ascends to Takamanohara where he causes much mischief.
Amaterasu-Omikami cannot bear his troublemaking, and takes refuge, hiding herself in a celestial cave. Bereft of Amaterasu-Omikami’s natural brilliance, the celestial and terrestrial world become dark and gloomy, and there is much confusion in the land.
The kami gather to discuss how they might work together to solve this grave problem. To coax Amaterasu-Omikami out of the cave , they fashion a jewel , the Yasakani-no-magatama, and a mirror , the Yata-no-kagami and decorate a tree with these sacred objects. Then they hold a matsuri, and performed a sacred dance in front of Amaterasu-Omikami’s cave. Intrigued by the merriment , she peeks outside and eventually agrees to return to the world, bringing back her peaceful light that harmony and order might be restored.
Susano’o-no-kami ,regretting his mischief, descends to earth and slays the Yamata-no-orochi, a monstrous,eight-headed serpent, freeing many from its devastation. After the serpent’s death , Susano’o-no-kami dedicates a special sword he discovers in the serpent’s tail , the Ameno Murakumo-no-tsurugi, to Amaterasu-Omikami.