Kagura to Tokudashi

From Ancient Myth to Modern Peep-Show

In Japan, an old Shinto-ritual is celebrated annually which includes the performance of a ritual striptease in which the dancing priestess exposes her yoni in full view of the participants. The ritual is known as Kagura (Jap., that which pleases the gods). It is, in fact, an annual celebration which commemorates an ancient myth concerning the goddesses Amaterasu and Ama-no-Uzume.

Tokudashi, Japan In this story, public exhibition of the Yoni is used to initiate a process of change, both on an individual level (freeing Amaterasu of her self-imposed prison) and on a social, even planetary scale (the return of light and warmth necessary to the survival of life).

Amaterasu, the Shinto-Goddess of the sun - and as such of light and life - had been sexually assaulted by her brother and was, quite naturally, deeply angered and depressed. Wounded, indignant, angry and in pain she left the world of which she wanted no part anymore, and took to hiding in a cave; thus withholding light and warmth from the Earth and from humanity.

Realizing the dangers involved, other deities assembled and tried to convince or seduce Amaterasu to come out again and to shine; but to no avail. After several such attempts had failed to persuade the sun to come out of hiding, it was Ama-no-Uzume, aptly named the Dread Female of Heaven, who had a bright idea that was to lure Amaterasu out of hiding. She stood up and positioned herself in front of all the assembled deities, and she began to dance the dance of life. Enticed by her performance, enticed by her charms, everyone watched (except Amaterasu in her cave).

Once she knew that she had everyone's undivided attention, she finally lifted her skirt and exposed her Yoni, her sacred genitals, for all to see. At that, all the assembled deities clapped their hands in applause and roared with laughter and understanding; and the sound carried far, even into the cave of the Sun-Goddess. Most curious as to what this was all about, curious at how anyone could be joyful while darkness had fallen, Amaterasu left her hiding, came out of her cave; and once more she was among the living, once again there was Light.

Tokudashi, Japan In our times, such ritual display and worship of the Yoni has been forced underground - in Japan and elsewhere - and has, at least in Japan, become part of the sex-industry. However, although the cultural context and the setting of the original myths and rituals have radically changed, the Tokudashi is essentially - down to small details such as light penetrating darkness - a modern continuance, or a changed revival, of the old Japanese Kagura.

With this in mind, it is especially noteworthy that both Buruma and Lustbader describe the women on stage as matriarchal goddesses or as queens and goddesses; and the yoni as magical organ or as inner sanctum; terms that usually do not appear in the context of sex-shows or pornography - as such literature is sometimes called.