Kitsune Mythology in Inari Shrines

Torii gates at the Inari Shrine As a deity, Inari is one of the most confusing kami of the Japanese Shinto/Buddhism tradition. 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…

Who were the Saio?

Women held few positions of power in ancient Japan, but one of the notable positions I've come across is the Saio (or the Saiin that I recently discover whom I think served a different shrine). The Saio was the unmarried, young female relative of a Japanese Emperor.  She was also known as Itsuki no Miko and…

Japanese Yokai: Kitsune, Pocket foxes, and more

The Kitsune are mythological creatures from Japan. Kitsune is actually the word for "fox" but in this sense it also means "fox-spirit". Kitsunes are normally seen as seductresses (as they're more commonly female) or tricksters but they have a wide range of cool abilities.   *Please take this with a grain of salt as I am…

Japanese Women: Mochizuki Chiyome and the Kunoichi

Ever since the West has been in contact with the Japanese, the ever powerful, mysterious, and seemingly magical ninjas have captured Western imagination. Ninjas were a secret group of special forces, high trained, spies in Medieval Japan. Although popularized today, traditionally ninjas commonly did not wear the all black costume that we imagine them in,…