Ame no Minakanushi no Kami (天之御中主神)
Ame no Minakanushi no Kami is one of the gods (Shinto) who appear in Japanese mythology.
He is one of the five pillars of Kotoamatsukami (literally, separate heavenly gods) who were involved in the Creation.
Ame no Minakanushi no Kami as described in "Kojiki" (the Records of Ancient Matters)
In Kojiki, Ame no Minakanushi no Kami is described as the first god who made an appearance in "Takamagahara" (the Plain of High Heaven or the Japanese Olympus) at the time of the creation of heaven and earth (Japanese mythology). Kojiki further describes that a couple of kami appeared later and soon disappeared, namely Takamimusubi and Kamimusubi. These three pillars of gods are called "Zoka-sanshin" (three kami of creation), who are said to be genderless 'hitorigami' (god without gender).
Ame no Minakanushi no Kami as described in "Nihonshoki" (The Chronicles of Japan)
There is no description of this kami in the main version of Nihonshoki, and one is found only in the fourth of the six "alternate writings" quoted in its Section 1.
It is stated there that a kami called Kuninotokotachi no Kami first appeared and then did another by the name of Kuninosatsuchi no Mikoto; then follows a statement that 'the god in Takamagahara is called Ame no Minakanushi no Mikoto.'
From these descriptions it is not clear which god came into being first.
Other alternate writings quoted in Nihonshoki state differently about the god who first appeared; Kuni no Tokotachi no Mikoto (main version, the first, the fourth and the fifth alternate writing); Umashiashikabihikoji (the second and the third alternate writing); Ame no Tokotachi no Kami (the sixth alternate writing)
The name of this kami implies that it is the presiding god sitting in the middle of heaven (Takamagahara). He is regarded as the origin of the cosmos or as the cosmos itself.
No mention whatsoever is made either in Kojiki or Nihonshoki of this kami's subsequent deeds, and this kami is said to be 'Chukushin' (literally, a god without form). It is considered that this kami is a conceptual god created in the course of the formation of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki mythology under the influence of the Chinese thought of the Lord of Heaven.
Taneatsu HIRATA (a scholar of Japanese classical literature in the late Edo period) read a number of proscribed books concerning Christianity and was strongly influenced by its idea of god as the creator of all nature. He states in his book "Tama-no-mihashira" (the True Pillar of Spirit) that it was Zoka-sanshin including Ame no Minakanushi no Kami, Takamimusubi no Kami and Kamimusubi no Kami that created all nature prior to tensonkorin (the descent to earth of the grandson of the sun goddess) at which time this world took on its shape. These three kami are regarded as the ultimate gods in "Fukko Shinto" (revived Shinto), and in particular Ame no Minakanushi no Kami is ranked first.
This kami had not been the object of worship for long since the Japanese mythology hardly contains any description of it and as this kami is not directly related to people's daily lives. Only after the medieval period did it begin to be worshipped in temples and Onmyodo (way of Yin and Yang; occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements). At present there are two groups of shrines sacred to this kami, namely the group of Myoken-sha Shrine (originally, some still currently, sacred to Myoken; the bodhisattva Myoken who is the deification of the North Star) and the group of Suiten-gu Shrine (originally sacred to Suiten; the god of waters derived from the Hindu god of waters Varuna).
Myoken-sha Shrine group has its origin in the belief in Taoism's supreme god residing in the heaven's center (Tien-Huang-ta-ti). The worship of Ame no Minakanushi no Kami was amalgamated with the North Star worship and the Big Dipper worship, and further with Buddhism's Myoken worship (worship of the bodhisattva Myoken, alias Myoken-san), forming the base for Atsutane HIRATA to establish a teaching theory which regards this kami as the god of the Big Dipper. Furthermore, Ame no Minakanushi no Kami was worshipped in Daikyoin (Great Teaching Institute) early in the Meiji period, and several shrines altered their enshrined deity to this kami. Such shrines as Chiba-jinja Shrine which has strong connection with Chiba clan, Kunohe-jinja shrine with Kunohe clan and Chichibu-jinja Shrine in Saitama Prefecture all enshrine Ame no Minakanushi no Kami through the Myoken worship link. There are over 50 Myoken-sha shrines in Chiba Prefecture, counting only those which have registered as a religious corporation. An innumerable number of small Myoken-sha shrines are located all over Japan.
Suiten-gu Shrine was originally a temple sacred to Buddhism's god Suiten, but Suiten was replaced with Ame no Minakanushi no Kami at the time of the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism, based on the notion that the divinity of Varuna (a god from whom Suiten derived) was the primordial god and so was that of Ame no Minakanushi no Kami in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki mythology.