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Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Kami in Folk Religion
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, for example in Ōgaki (Gifu Prefecture), and in Hachiōji (Tōkyō). The central kami enshrined at such sites is usually Empress Jingū or Konohanasakuyahime. The worship of Konohanasakuyahime is based on a legend found in Kojiki and Nihongi, according to which the kami gave birth to three offspring in the midst of a raging fire. In fact, however, kami of childbirth are better known throughout most of Japan as elements of popular local cults. In such cases, the cultic beliefs have undergone syncretism with Buddhism, forming such objects of worship as Koyasu Jizō and Koyasu Kannon. Frequently represented as a mother holding a child, the image of Koyasu Kannon is believed to have been influenced by Chinese beliefs in the similar goddess the "Compassionate Mother Guanyin."

-Inoue Nobutaka
Stone image of the Jizō bodhisattva who provides safe childbirth

Wakayama Prefecture, 1998

©Fujii Hiroaki

Replicas of female breasts offered to kami as part of prayers for safe childbirth

Wakayama Prefecture, 2004

©Fujii Hiroaki

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