Friday, February 25, 2011

Kami statues of Kunisaki


Many of the exterior trappings of the religion now called Shinto can be traced to the influence of Buddhism, but one aspect that never really took a hold is statuary of kami. A few do exist though, but not many, so here are some I found on the Kunisaki peninsular in north Kyushu.

Probably the most common kami statue is Ebisu, and that probably comes from Ebisu being primarily a "folk" kami. Like the one pictured above he is often holding a large Sea Bream.


This very beautiful statue was at the entrance to an Awashima shrine and shows the kami Sukuna Hikona who is now considered to be the kami of Awashima shrines. He is often connected with Okuninushi and the two of them are said to have been responsible for the spread of agriculture and also medicines. The ear of grain looks like millet and may be connected to a story wherein he climbed a stalk of millet and sprang off to Tokoyo no Kuni, the eternal land.


He was a very, very small kami, so tiny in fact that he slipped through the fingers of his father. He arrives in Izumo in a tiny boat made from a seed pod and wearing a single bird skin as a coat.


I have no idea who this is. It was among the carving around a shrine, and often these carving show buddhist stories, but this guy has a long beard and deosnt appear to be wearing buddhist clothes so he may well be a kami. If anyone has any ideas who he is or why he is chasing a fox, please let me know.


At Tenmangu shrines, dedicated to Tenjin, the kami name of Sugawara Michizane, statues of bulls are usually found. According to the legend the bull pulling his funeral cart just stopped and refused to move any further, so that is where he was buried.


  1. Very special pictures and article this time

  2. Very beautiful & interesting. I have never seen a Kami statue before.