Inari okami japanese mythology

Inari and their fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru Little Fox in the late 10th century. This legend is the subject of the no] drama Sanjo Kokaji. In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of swordsmiths and merchants.

Represented as malefemaleor androgynous, Inari is sometimes seen as a collective of three or five individual kami. Inari appears to have been worshipped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in CE, although some scholars believe that worship started in the late 5th century. Worship of Inari spread across Japan in the Edo period, and by the 16th century Inari had become the patron of blacksmiths and the protector of warriors.

Inari is a popular figure in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs in Japan. More than one-third 32, of the Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to Inari.

Modern corporations, such as cosmetic company Shiseido, continue to revere Inari as a patron kami, with shrines atop their corporate headquarters.

Inari appears to a warrior. This portrayal of Inari shows the influence of Dakiniten concepts from Buddhism. Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva. Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures.

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Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami. Inari's female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakiniten, a Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini[5] or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods. Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities Inari sanza ; since the Kamakura period, this number has sometimes increased to five kami Inari goza.

However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inari, the oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrinethese kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigi, and Wakumusubi, in addition to the food deities previously mentioned. However, at Takekoma Inari, the second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi.

The fox and the wish-fulfilling jewel are prominent symbols of Inari. Other common elements in depictions of Inari, and sometimes of their kitsuneinclude a sickle, a sheaf or sack of rice, and a sword.

Another belonging was their whip—although they were hardly known to use it, it was a powerful weapon that was used to burn people's crops of rice.

inari okami japanese mythology

Izanagi to the right, Izanami to the left. The origin of Inari worship is not entirely clear. Scholars such as Kazuo Higo believe worship was conducted for centuries before that date; they suggest that the Hata clan began the formal worship of Inari as an agriculture kami in the late fifth century. By the Heian period, Inari worship began to spread. Inari's rank was subsequently increased, and byEmperor Suzaku granted Inari the top rank in thanks for overcoming rebellions.

At this time, the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine was among the twenty-two shrines chosen by the court to receive imperial patronage, a high honor. Inari's popularity continued to grow. The Fushimi shrine, already a popular pilgrimage site, gained wide renown when it became an imperial pilgrimage site in Bythe shrine's festival was said to rival the Gion Festival in splendor.Inari is the Japanese kami a type of god or spirit in the Shinto religion of prosperity, tea, agriculture especially riceindustry, and smithing.

A complex deity with many faces, Inari is variously referred to as male, female, and androgynous, depending on the context.

Japanese Mythology

Inari is an incredibly popular deity who has more shrines dedicated to them than any other kami in Japan; a third of all shrines in the country are Inari shrines.

Over the centuries, as Japanese society has changed and evolved its priorities, Inari has changed alongside the culture to take on new roles. This helps explain why people have viewed Inari variously as male, female, and androgynous. For example, in Shingon Buddhism, the concept of the divine feminine, daikinitenis connected to the power of foxes and thus to Inari, giving her additional powers from Buddhism—such as purifying light—she lacks in traditional Shinto depictions.

This prosperity applies in equal parts to agriculture and to industry, given the importance of Inari to craftsmen and smiths during the Edo periodfor during this period smiths became an important part of Japanese industry and the culture of samurai. This continues into the modern period, with many companies giving prominence to Inari; the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, founded nearly years ago and one of the oldest beauty companies in the world, counts Inari as their patron deity.

Pagans & Witches

The most common association with Inari is their relationship to agriculture, and especially to rice. This extends to the products made from crops, such as sake, the Japanese alcohol produced from fermented rice. A popular rice ball, called Inarizushi, is named for Inari. Starting in the Edo period, the Japanese began to associate Inari with different crafts, including wood-working, textiles, and especially blacksmithing and swordsmithing. In this context, people usually speak of Inari as a male god.

He guides the spirit of swordmakers, driving his hammer down on hot metal. By virtue of his association with success, Inari followed this cultural shift, expanding his domain into the realm of gold and other metals. The most common and well-known symbol of Inari is the fox, or kitsune. Kitsune are one of the most popular supernatural creatures called yokai in Japanese folklore. They are female spirits who use their wiles and cunning either to help or harm humans around them.

To harm one of these foxes is an affront to Inari. Many shrines dedicated to Inari have statues of foxes at their gates torii or elsewhere outside the shrines, replacing the lion-dog komainu statues. In this context, Inari is almost always female. While these are the most common traits, the presence of fox statues is the most consistent marker of Inari shrines, where worshipers often make offerings of rice and sake.

In total, there are at least 2, Inari shrines recognized in Japan today, making them the most common shrine in the country.

The oldest and most prominent of these shrines is Fushimi Inari-taisha, found in Kyoto. Despite not appearing in classical Japanese mythologyInari is one of the most prominent deities throughout Japanese history.

Almost as soon as it arrived, Buddhism quickly associated itself with Inari and Inari shrines at a time when Inari was closely connected to rice, agriculture, and tea.

Given the importance of these items to the culture and economy of Japan, Inari became known as the god of prosperity and success. During this early period, worship at Fushimi in Kyoto was established. Some legendary figures, such as the wizard onmyoji named Abe no Seimei, were said to be descended from kitsune and thus blessed by Inari. Japanese Buddhist sects such as Shingon have regarded Inari as their patron deity since their inception. Imperial patronage of Inari and Inari shrines during this time led to their prominence across Japan, and this prominence remained even as political power changed hands.

During the Edo period, worship of Inari began to change in ways that maintained their popularity. Though samurai had reigned in Japan for roughly the previous five centuries, the rise of blacksmiths and swordsmiths during the Tokugawa shogunate made the metal industries powerful. Inari therefore became the patron deity of smiths and swordsmen, a protector of warriors and merchants alike.

Their relationship with agriculture and tea did not change, however, leading Inari to become the kami associated with both these old domains and the new. After the Meiji Restoration reordered Japanese cosmology to favor State Shinto and thus traditional kami like Inari, the rise of capitalism and corporations meant that Inari became an incredibly popular deity during the Meiji, Taisho, and pre-war Showa periods Inari is one of the most well known kami in popular folk Shinto.

He or she is the god of rice and is related with general prosperity. In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of sword smiths and merchants. Primarily, however, Inari is associated with agriculture, protecting rice fields and giving the farmers an abundant harvest every year.

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One of the main myths concerning Inari tells of this kami coming down a mountain every spring when it is planting season and ascending back up the mountain after the harvest for the winter. Inari does not have one main image or gender, but rather has many associated images and is identified with other kami as well. Usually when one refers to Inari the two general images are of an old man sitting on a pile of rice with two foxes beside him, or of a beautiful fox-woman.

The kami directly identified with Inari are quite numerous. In earlier times, Inari was thought of as being three or sometimes five kami. There are two Buddhist versions of Inari as well. This Dakini later merged in the popular imagination of Japan with the fox-benefactress who brought food to all the people. Interestingly, the linkage between Toyokawa and Inari-Dakiniten may have begun on account of the foxes associated separately with each of these food goddesses. On the other hand, many scholars believe that Toyokawa and Inari have always been one and the same Smyers The fox kitsune in Japanese is closely associated to Inari.

These animals are believed to help protect the rice crops and help people in general. Some folk stories, however, portray the kitsune as tricksters and wicked animals. An example of a benign kitsune comes from a story recounted in The Fox and the Jewel about a mother whose child fell out the window of her second-story home. Astonishingly, the child landed unhurt in the yard below, though surrounded by shards of broken glass.

A jewel is also associated with Inari. These jewels represent spiritual and material wealth, fertility, and life; the types of things that are associated with prosperity.Inariin Japanese mythologygod primarily known as the protector of rice cultivation.

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The god also furthers prosperity and is worshiped particularly by merchants and tradesmen, is the patron deity of swordsmiths and is associated with brothels and entertainers. The fox, symbolizing both benevolence and malevolence, is sometimes identified with the messenger of Inari, and statues of foxes are found in great numbers both inside and outside shrines dedicated to the rice god.

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Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.Primarily, Inari is known as the god of rice and agriculture, but also of fertility, tea, sake, industry, general prosperity, and success.

At one point, Inari was also the god of swordsmiths and merchants. Inari is also sometimes seen as male, female, both, or neither. But, there is one other thing that Inari is known for and that is foxes. Inari is known as the god of foxes, called kitsune, in Japanese mythology. Another reason is said because foxes were popularly seen around rice fields which lent themselves to be the messenger of the rice god.

Kitsune Mythology in Inari Shrines

Another reason is a popular folktale that one night, a pair of foxes took shelter in an Inari temple and had kits there. Kitsunes are said to have a variety of powers and abilities. They range from shapeshifting, possession, illusions, will-o-wisp kitsune-bitalking, and other things. They also commonly have a small ball or jewel called a hoshi-no-tama that supposedly stores some of their powers in or their soul or the soul of their victim, etc.

Kitsunes are also said to be mischievous, quick to anger, holds grudges for lifetime, and are generally female.

inari okami japanese mythology

A variety of kitsune mythology can be seen connected to Inari shrines. Apparently some Inari shrines actually used to have real foxes at their shrines and a common myth is that a white female fox protects one level of the shrine, and the black, male fox protects the other level although the black fox is not a nogitsune.

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White is seen as a symbol of purity, while black is the opposite, and red is seen as a color of good fortune and happiness. Dakiniten is sometimes portrayed as riding on a flying white fox. So this association might be another reason why foxes and the color white goes hand-in-hand with Inari. Along with their hoshi-no-tama, the fox statues at Inari shrines will also usually come in pairs one female and one male and in their mouths or under their paws, they will hold jewels a symbol that grants wishesscrolls, keys, or another symbolic object.

They also sometimes might have red bibs called yodarekake on that are commonly seen on other types of statues in Japanese Shinto Shrines or Buddhist Temples. They apparently have especially become associated with Inari Foxes because the color is similar to that of the vermilion torii gates.

And each statue, even if they come in pairs, is uniquely different from each other like the way each fox in real life as a different personality. Inari foxes are connected with specific foods in Japan as well, and they are not only popular to eat, but they are also offered at shrines for devotees to offer to the foxes.In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of swordsmiths and merchants. Represented as malefemaleor androgynousInari is sometimes seen as a collective of three or five individual kami.

Inari appears to have been worshipped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in AD, although some scholars believe that worship started in the late 5th century. By the 16th century, Inari had become the patron of blacksmiths and the protector of warriors, and worship of Inari spread across Japan in the Edo period.

Inari is a popular figure in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs in Japan. More than one-third 32, of the Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to Inari. Modern corporations, such as cosmetic company Shiseidocontinue to revere Inari as a patron kami, with shrines atop their corporate headquarters. Inari's foxes, or kitsuneare pure white and act as their messengers.

According to myth, Inari, as a goddess, was said to have come to Japan at the time of its creation amidst a harsh famine that struck the land. Inethe word now used for rice, is the name for this cereal. What she carried was not rice but some cereal that grows in swamps. According to legend, in the ancient times Japan was water and swamp land.

Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva.

Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures. Some scholars suggest that Inari is the figure known in classical Japanese mythology as the Shinto male deity Uka-no-Mitama or possibly Uke Mochi ; others suggest Inari is the same figure as the Shinto female deity, Toyouke. Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami. Inari's female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakinitena Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini[6] or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities Inari sanza ; since the Kamakura periodthis number has sometimes increased to five kami Inari goza. However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inarithe oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrine, these kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigiand Wakumusubiin addition to the food deities previously mentioned.

However, at Takekoma Inarithe second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi. The fox and the wish-fulfilling jewel are prominent symbols of Inari. Other common elements in depictions of Inari, and sometimes of their kitsuneinclude a sickle, a sheaf or sack of rice, and a sword. Another belonging was their whip—although they were hardly known to use it, it was a powerful weapon that was used to burn people's crops of rice.

The origin of Inari worship is not entirely clear. Scholars such as Kazuo Higo believe worship was conducted for centuries before that date; they suggest that the Hata clan began the formal worship of Inari as an agriculture kami in the late fifth century.O-Inari is a genderless Kami in that Inari has been sometimes seen as appearing as a beautiful woman and at other times as a handsome man.

O-Inari Sama is not the Kami of foxes and Kitsune as often stated however Inari does have foxes as attendants and messengers. You will see them guarding shrines with their bright red bibs symbolizing the blood of life and they will always be in pairs, one holding a key and one holding a globe of fox-fire.

The symbolism here is very specific to the origins of Inari worship and Edo period life in the still rural areas of Japan. The key the foxes hold is to the rice granary, the most necessary food to survive a harsh mountain winter while the globe represents the warm fire against a cold winter and also to represent the soul.

This being said, many Japanese do see O-Inari Sama as a fox and depending on which temple you visit Inari is a fox or kitsune while others will swear it off as a strange folk belief that they are actively trying to dissuade people from believing. When I asked the Kannushi Shinto priest about this however, he told me that. As for Inari Okami, people believe what they want to believe.

I think Inari likes that I like that. As the popularity of Inari grew outwards from around the mountains and fields interesting things began to happen. Folks began seeing foxes and fox-fire seen as blue glowing orbs and began leaving out rice as an offering to appease them and ask for good harvest or good business.

These Inari foxes were said to be especially fond of sweet rice rolled in tofu wrappings, a very unique type of Japanese dessert forevermore dubbed O-Inari-zushi Sushi of O-Inari and it is made often for celebrations by shrines dedicated to O-Inari Sama.

inari okami japanese mythology

Because red is sacred to O-Inari Sama shrines in Japan that are dedicated to Inari will be decorated with red lanterns and brilliantly painted red tori wood arches. Devotees will often pay to have a tori put up in their name and over time, some of the larger and more popular shrines, have entire pathways shaded by hundreds of tori.

Many of the larger shrines also maintain cemeteries for their worshipers. When walking through an Inari cemetery you will find graves with elaborate headstones carved to look like shrines complete with red tori and their red-bibbed guardian foxes.

Many families, especially Shinto families, practice ancestor worship and the headstones are made to look like shrines for this very reason. The belief is that the family member can be reached through this mini-shrine. It becomes a ritual in itself to clean a shrine. Many families will also maintain an in-home ancestral shrine to keep the connection all year round. Thank you for reading, this is the most I could type right now. If you have any questions I will try my best to answer them.

Some books I recommend are:. For your altar — Foxes! Especially the typical white foxes with red ears white foxes are spirits and if marked in red they have dedicated themselves to service of Inari. Red, gold, and black candles. Rice, especially sweet rice, as an offering along with Sake Japanese rice wine or Plum wine.

If you can decorate with plants and foliage that is always appreciates as well as fox are shy and like to hide. Incense such as Sakura blossom will also be appreciated but if you can get Temple incense from a local Chinese store that is great as well.

Grant us safety from malevolent kami, and grant that my home and my body be protected from any malevolent deeds. If I commit an error, if I stray from my intended path, I pray that the kami help me correct my way.


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