Inari (god)

From Academic Kids

Inari(稲荷) is the Shinto god of fertility, rice, and foxes. Inari's foxes, or kitsune, are pure white and act as his messengers. Inari is often identified with the Buddhist deity Dakiniten.

The entrance to an Inari shrine is usually marked by one or more red torii and some statues of kitsune.

 Inari Shrine
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Fushimi Inari Shrine

Inari is a popular deity in Japan, with temples located in most places throughout. The main shrine is the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Fushimi, Kyoto, Japan, where the paths up the shrine hill are marked with vermilion torii and statues of foxes, which are always adorned with a red bib out of respect. These statues are at times taken for a form of Inari. Offerings of rice, sake, and other food are given at the shrine to appease and please these messengers.

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Inari Shrine seal, Kasama Inari Shrine

Inari is variously depicted as either male or female. The god often appears as an old man, carrying a sack of rice, followed by two white foxes; however, Inari also frequently appears as a woman. It seems to be the case that, at one point, there existed two separate gods known as Inari — one male, one female; one a god of rice, the other a more general god of food and fertility. Over time, the separate gods became one composite mythological entity, who continued to be depicted as both male and female. The preferred gender of depiction varies by region and by one's personal beliefs. Because of Inari's close association with kitsune, Inari is also sometimes depicted as a fox. Folklore also attests to his shape-shifting abilities: on one occasion, Inari appeared to a wicked man in the shape of a monstrous spider as a way of teaching him a lesson.

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Kitsune statue

In some parts of Kyushu, a festival or praying period is started five days before the full moon in November; occasionally it is extended to a full week. This is accompanied by bringing offerings of rice products to a shrine to Inari each day and receiving o-mamori (protection charms). The festival is particularly popular in the countryside near Nagasaki.

External links

ja:稲荷神 pl:Inari sv:Inari

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