- Sanshu no shinki
- The three imperial regalia. Literally, the three divine receptacles. In the Nihongi they are referred to as the three treasures (mikusa-no-takara-mono). They are the mirror (yata no kagami) preserved at Ise jingu, the sword (ame-no-muraku-mono-tsurugi, kusanagi no tsurugi) at Atsuta jingu, and the string of jewels (yasakani no magatama) kept at the imperial palace. Replicas of the first two are kept with the third in the Kashiko dokoro shrine of the imperial palace in Tokyo, since possession of the 'three sacred treasures' is held to be evidence of the legitimacy of the emperor. The regalia are kept hidden. The mirror is enclosed in numerous boxes and wrappings, the sword is said to be about 33 inches long and enclosed in wood in a stone box. Nothing is publicly known about the shape or colour of the jewels which are also kept concealed. The regalia are piously believed to have been handed down from Amaterasu to Ninigi then down through the generations of emperors. The divine transmission is not mentioned in the Kojiki or Nihongi, though the legendary emperors Chuai (192-200) and Keitai (507-31) are according to the Nihongi ceremonially presented with a mirror, sword and jewels, or in the case of Keitai an 'imperial signet'. The sword was lost by Emperor Antoku in the defeat of the Taira clan in 1185, two years after the rival emperor Go-Toba had acceded to the throne without the regalia. Following these inauspicious events the successful Minamoto regime at Kamakura placed much greater emphasis on the proper transmission of the imperial regalia as necessary elements in the accession ceremony. There are various interpretations of the meaning of the regalia. At one level they can be seen as charms or protective amulets as well as symbols of legitimacy, but with the rise of Ise or Watarai Shinto allegorical meanings with a strong Buddhist-Confucian flavour were attributed to the three treasures, such as that the mirror signifies truthfulness, the sword wisdom or courage and the jewels benevolence.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.