The digging minigames happen occasionally throughout Ōkami's storyline, two of which are optional. When completed, it will allow Amaterasu to: Proceed with the story, receive a special item, or gain another brush technique. The objective of the minigame is to get the digging partner to the bottom of the level, while protecting them from danger. Once they have reached the bottom, they will signal Amaterasu to dig in that spot, which completes the game. There is also a time limit to which Amaterasu must complete the game.
Each digging minigame features Amaterasu and a partner NPC traversing a descending series of block floors, with the goal of guiding Amaterasu's partner to a region on the bottommost floor before time runs out. Aside from the bottommost floor, each floor consists of a horizontal row of blocks, which can come in the following varieties:
- Black rocks, which are unbreakable
- Water rocks, which are similarly unbreakable but also contain a pool of water that will slow down Amaterasu's partner as they attempt to swim out of it
- Gray rocks, which can be destroyed with Power Slash
- Light soil, which can be destroyed by digging into them from above or headbutting them from the side
- Hard soil, which are mostly similar to tan blocks but require two digs or headbutts instead of one to destroy; powering up these abilities with Digging Champ and Hardhead allows Amaterasu to destroy brown blocks in just one go instead of two, identically to tan blocks
- Spiked rocks, which are unbreakable and can injure both Amaterasu and her partner, subtracting a number of seconds from the timer
In addition to these, Amaterasu can also find buds that provide time crystals when Bloom is used on them, adding 30 seconds to the timer, as well as bags of Yen inside certain light soil blocks. Breaking the block will allow Amaterasu to collect the Yen, though the bags do not respawn upon restarting the minigame if Amaterasu has already collected them.
Throughout the minigame, Amaterasu can use a variety of brush techniques to aid both herself and her partner:
- Using Power Slash on Amaterasu's partner will force them to start moving in the opposite direction
- Galestorm will blow Amaterasu's partner in the direction of the wind by one block, or two if two loops are drawn in a single stroke; since their feet do not touch the ground while they are airborne, this can allow them to cross spiked blocks and water rocks
- Using Bloom on Amaterasu's partner will temporarily make them run instead of walk, allowing them to cover horizontal distance faster
- Drawing a dot on an area where green holy smoke appears will make shrubbery grow; doing this on the ground Amaterasu's partner is standing on will elevate them by one block and throw them forward in the direction they are facing, allowing them to move on top of a block right in front of them
- Using Waterspout on a water rock will create a two-block-tall geyser that both Amaterasu and her partner can use while it's active
- Cherry Bomb can destroy gray rocks and soil blocks (both light and hard), though its wide blast range can create the risk of accidentally destroying blocks needed for progress
Once Amaterasu's partner has reached the goal on the bottommost layer, they will stand in place and gesticulate while a glowing spot appears on the ground below them. Digging into the glowing spot will clear the minigame.
The first digging minigame takes place in Sasa Sanctuary when Amaterasu first goes to the bathhouse out back. A sparrow is trying to bring the hot springwater back because it went dry when Orochi cursed the land. Mr. Bamboo appears, due to the fact Sasa Sanctuary is now open, and decides to help Amaterasu. He introduces the game to her, telling her the basics.
Another game is in Taka Pass, but Galestorm is needed to access the game. Amaterasu must first have that technique and then locate a treasure hunter named Bingo. He will tell her that he senses a treasure nearby, which is a hole under a pile of leaves. After blowing the leaves away with Galestorm, he asks for her help to find the treasure.
The third game is in Sei'an City when it is plagued by the poison fog. Amaterasu must search through the dried up canal and find a carpenter named Naguri. He will inform her of the situation in the city and the reason why Lake Beewa, the lake that the city is built on, has dried up. He then considers asking her for help, being that wolves are good at digging, and they set out to restore the water.
The fourth game is, once again, in Sasa Sanctuary, after defeating Blight and cleansing the air of the fog. Kaguya has gone to Sasa Sanctuary to figure out where she came from. There, she finds Mr. Bamboo and tells him of her quest. She then creates a hole in the ground and jumps in to find what has been drawing her there. Amaterasu jumps in after her.
The fifth, and last, game is in the Dragon Palace. There are two hallways there, one that leads to the Water Dragon's garden, and another that leads to a Mermaid spring. Unfortunately, the spring has dried up and covered with a tough rock. Amaterasu must first learn the Digging Champ ability to start the game. After digging through the rock, the lead dancer will notice that Amaterasu is trying to help. She will then join up with her to find the water source of the spring.
The first game is rather simple, and the easiest. After helping Mr. Bamboo find the source of the hot spring water, water will fill up the spring. The sparrow thanks both Amaterasu and Mr. Bamboo and grants them freedom of using the hot spring whenever they want, much to Amaterasu's dislike. Shortly afterward, a constellation appears, which turns out to be Nuregami, the goddess of water. She then grants Amaterasu the power of Waterspout.
With Bingo's treasure hunt, it is rather unique. Instead of getting him to the bottom, Amaterasu must help him get all the way to the right of the level, horizontally, for the treasure is buried at the bottom right. Be extremely careful not to get him stuck at the bottom level when you are not close enough to the end. The reward for finding the treasure is receiving the treasure, which is a Sun Fragment.
The completion of the third game brings water back to Sei'an City. This allows Amaterasu to proceed with her journey. In the next area of Sei'an, there is a bridge that is inaccessible until Amaterasu restores the water, gives Benkei a fishing rod, and helps him catch the Cutlass Fish.
After aiding Kaguya with her quest, a rocket appears out of the ground. Kaguya, after saying her goodbyes to Mr. Bamboo and Amaterasu, boards the rocket and flies away to the moon. Before she departs, she gives Amaterasu the Fire Tablet, a Holy Artifact that grants her the ability to swim through lava. This is needed to see Queen Himiko, the ruler of Sei'an City.
The last game, like Bingo's Treasure Hunt, is unique as well. Amaterasu starts off at the bottom and must work her way to the top to join the Dancer, and then guide the Dancer to the bottom. After restoring the Mermaid spring's water, Amaterasu must then draw a swirling line in the middle when the dancers are running around it. Nuregami appears and grants Amaterasu another Waterspout ability, which is called Fountain. This power allows her to use Mermaid Springs for free, without using a Mermaid Coin.