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Kami in Folk Religion


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Chinjugami

A kami acting as a tutelary of a circumscribed geographical region or area of land. Believed to have originated with the qié-lán-shen (Jp. garanjin), tutelary deities of temple compounds in China, the growth of kami-buddha syncretism (shinbutsu shūgō) led to the dedication (...

Daikokuten

One of the "seven deities of good fortune" (shichifukujin), Daikokuten is most commonly seen carrying a "wealth-pounding" wooden mallet in his right hand, holding a treasure sack over his left shoulder, and standing upon rice bales. Daikokuten's identity is said to have originated in the Indian dei...

Daikunokami

  A generic term for kami worshiped by woodworkers and carpenters (daiku). One of the typical figures worshiped by carpenters in the Kyoto and eastern Japan regions is the seventh-century imperial regent Shōtoku Taishi, based on the popular Taishi cult and the legend that he was in charge of sup...

Dōsojin

"Tutelary of roads," a generic name for a kami often found dedicated at village borders and intersections as a guard against noxious spirits and evil kami that bring pestilence and disasters to the local community from outside. Frequently called sae no kami, dōrokujin, funado no kami, or shaku...

Ebisu

Together with Daikoku, one of the most popular and well known of the "seven deities of good fortune" (shichifukujin). The opulent image of this kami holding a fishing pole or a sea bream is known intimately by people throughout Japan. In addition to those shown above, the name Ebisu has been writte...

Gyogyōshin

A general term for tutelaries of fishing invoked by fishermen in hopes of abundant catches and safety on the seas. A wide variety of kami serve as the centers of cults to fishing deities, including funadama (the guardian spirit of a ship), Ebisu, Ōdama, and Ryūjin (dragon kami). The funad...

Hinokami

  "Kami of fire," a kami with dominion over the nature and use of fire. According to the Kojiki and Nihongi, the kami called Homusubi or Kagutsuchi was the original kami of fire, and this kami became the object of popular cultic faith as a tutelary of protection from fire. While a necessity of everyd...

Hōsōgami

"Smallpox kami," a kami believed responsible for the spread of epidemics of smallpox (hōsō). Alternately, a tutelary of smallpox with the power to prevent such epidemics. The first smallpox innoculation center in Edo was established in 1858, but until such centers were widely distribu...

Ichinokami

  Tutelary kami of the marketplace, believed to protect trade and marketplace order and to bring prosperity. Also known as Ichihime. No specific kami originally existed as an object of worship (saijin) in the role of marketplace kami, but the concept of a tutelary of the marketplace likely develo...

Ienokami

  "Kami of the home." In general, any kami acting as a tutelary of and bringing prosperity to the home. A wide variety of kami are enshrined (see saijin) in the role of "kami of the home," however, making it difficult to comprehend them in any systematic way. Concrete examples include kami enshrined ...

Ikigami

A person either worshipped while alive as a kami, or revered for his or her exemplary "kami-like" existence. Venerated for their remarkable power and charisma, individuals worshiped as living kami are usually persons of high station, such as the emperor, or individuals who demonstrate paranormal po...

Jinushigami

"Land-master-kami," a tutelary of an area of land. Also known as jigami, tochigami, chi no kami (or ji no kami), and jinushisama. Land tutelary kami have been enshrined since ancient times, as evidenced by the mention of jigami and tochigami found in the early work Hitachi no kuni fudoki, in its se...

Kajishin

A kami of smithing and of metal forging enshrined by people who work in those industries. In premodern times, blacksmiths (kaji) included both those living sedentary lives in towns, and those who, together with bellows-makers (tatarashi) and metal casters (imoji), would join itinerant iron-working ...

Kamadogami

"Kami of the oven." A household tutelary enshrined at the cooking stove, fireplace, or other place within the home where fires are normally tended, and generally considered to be the "kami of fire" (hi no kami). Frequently, a domestic Shinto altar (kamidana) is found nearby, where the kami's wood o...

Kazenokami

  "kami of wind," also known as fūjin. Japan's geographic setting, in an area exposed to strong seasonal winds, makes the wind an important factor in everyday life, farming, and maritime industries. As a result, Japan has been home to beliefs in tutelaries of wind since ancient times. Anothe...

Konjin

"Tutelary of metal," an itinerant kami originating within the cult of Onmyōdō (Yin-Yang divination), associated with varying compass directions in space, and believed to change position in accordance with the year, lunar month, and the season. Konjin's current location in space at any giv...

Koyasugami

A tutelary of pregnancy, safe childbirth, and the healthy growth and development of children. According to the ancient historical work Sandai jitsuroku, a shrine called Koyasu Jinja was found in the province of Mino in ancient times, and a number of shrines by the same name can still be found today...

Mikumarinokami

  "Water-dividing kami," tutelaries of the allocation of running water. The root kumari possesses the same significance as the modern kubari (allocate, distribute), and mi is an abbreviated form of mizu or water. Mikumari no kami are most often found enshrined at stream headwaters, or at the distribu...

Oni

A misshapen supernatural demon or devil visiting this world from the other world, bringing with it disaster or blessing. Due to their fearful spiritual power, oni were considered ambivalent beings possessing the power of both good and evil, and were thus the objects of both worship and avoidance. W...

Oshirasama

A tutelary of the home (ie no kami) found throughout Japan's northeastern region; also referred to as Oshirabotoke ("the Oshira Buddha"). Although Oshirasama is commonly viewed as a tutelary of agriculture and silkworm production, little agreement has been reached regarding the etymology of the nam...



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