Showing posts with label kaido. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kaido. Show all posts

Saturday, December 18, 2021

More Ebisu on the Hita Kaido

 

A few days ago I posted 7 shots of Ebisu statues I found along the Hita Kaido while walking day 52 of my walk around Kyushu. There were A LOT of Ebisu staties. here are another seven. That was not all I saw in this one day, and if I had gone looking I am sure I would have found even more.


Usually depicted with a Sea Bream tucked under his left arm, ad a fishing rod in his right, this suggests that Ebisu was originally a fishing god, but by the Edo period, when these statues probably date, he was more well known as one of the Seven Lucky Gods.


Among the Seven Lucky Gods, Ebisu is singled out as being the only Japanese god of the seven. He is very often paired with Daikokuten. Originally a Hindu deity, Daikoku is written with the same Chinese characters as Okuni, so he became equated with Okuninushi. Okuninushi's son, Kotoshironushi, is featured in the ancient myths as always fishing, so the two became equated with Daikoku and Ebisu.


The Meiji government cemented this identification when they decided that the head shrine for Ebisu in Japan was to be Miho Jinja. Located in Mihonoseki at the tip of the Shimane peninsula, a site where Kotoshironushi enjoyed fishing.


In the Kansai region,  a different origin of Ebisu is given. In the origin myths, the first child born to Izanami and Izanagi was Hiruko, the "Leech Child". Born deformed, it was determined that this was caused by Izanami, the female, speaking first in their wedding ritual. They redid their wedding "correctly" and all future children were born OK. Hiruko was cast out in a boat and is believed to have landed on Awaji Island.


The characters for Hiruko can also be read as Ebisu. Ebisu is also an old name to refer to foreigners and in the north of Japan some stories suggest that Ebisu was a "foreign" god of the Emishi/Aimu.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Ebisu Along the Hita Kaido

 


Christmas Eve, 2013, and I begin the 52nd day of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage. With totally clear skies I begin heading out of Kurume with everything still in shadow covered in white frost.


The route I will be following is eastwards up the Chikugo River on the south side towtds Hita in Oita. It was a major transportation route in the Edo Period sometimes called the Hita Kaido, sometimes the Bungo Kaido.


What became apparent after only a few kilometers of walking were the large number of Ebisu statues along the route.


Ebisu was primarily a kami connected with fishing and whaling. In many parts of the country every little fishing harbor will have a small Ebisu shrine.


In the Edo Period, with the rise in popularity of the Seven Lucky Gods, of which Ebisu is a member, he also became associated with business success.


Along this route I found Ebisu statues in every little shrine, on the sidewalk in the villages, and alongside the rice paddies.


I know that along the Nagasaki Kaido as it runs through what is now Saga there was a cult of Ebisu, and as the Nagasaki Kaido connects with the Hita Kaido, maybe this is an extension of that cult.