(5) Statues of wild boars, tigers, mice and foxes at temples and shrines in Japan


In temples and shrine sin Japan, we often see statues of wild boars, tigers, mice and foxes which are placed like Shishi-komainu guardian statues.



Wild boar statues

The kind of shrines where wild boar statues are found are the ones which deify Wake-no-Kiyomaro (or Kiyomaro of Wake, 和氣淸麻呂, 733-799), the most famous one being Goou-jinja Shrine (護王神社), located in front of the Hamaguri-Gomon (Gate) of the Imperial Palace, Kyoto.



Front view of Goou-jinja Shrine. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 10 October 2018.


The origin of Goou-jinja is said to have been a shrine for Gohouzenshin (護法善神, heavenly gods who protect Buddha and Buddhists) which was built after the death of Wake-no-Kiyomaro to enshrine his soul in the precinct of Jingoji Temple (神護寺) which had been founded in 781 AD by Kiyomaro himself at Mt. Takao in north-west Kyoto.[1] In 1851 in the late Edo Period, Kiyomaro was granted the Fist Senior Rank (正1位) and the title of Goou-Daimyojin (護王大明神) by Emperor Koumei (孝明天皇) who praised his historical deeds. In 1866 (the 7th year of Meiji) the Gohouzenshin Shrine was renamed as Goou-jinja Shrine, being ranked as Imperial Shrine of Special Status. In 1886 (the 19th year of Meiji), by the order of Emperor Meiji, new shrine was constructed at the present site and the deity was moved there from Mt. Takao. Princess Wake-no-Hiromushi (和氣廣虫), elder sister of Kiyomaro, was also deified.[2] The legends of “Plot of Usa Hachiman Shrine Oracle” in which Kiyomaro and wild boars were related were written in Nihonkouki, Shoku-Nihonki, etc.[3]


It was in the Heian Period when Wake-no-Kiyomaro and his sister, Mushimaro, came from Bizen Province (a part of the present-day Okayama Prefecture) to serve for Empress Kouken (孝謙天皇, reigned from 749-758). The Empress had once abdicated the throne but ascended the throne again as Empress Shotoku (稱徳天皇) in 764 (until 770) after the suppression of Abe-no-Nakamaro’s revolt. In 769, a Buddhist Monk, named Doukyo (道鏡), who had risen to power and became the Highest Monk under the favour of the Empress, received a divine revelation, via the priest of Dazaifu Shrine, which said that “If Doukyo is made ascend the throne, then peace will reign in the country.” He was certainly delighted. The Empress invited Kiyomaro and told, “In a dream, a messenger from the Hachiman Shrine emerged and said, ‘The god demands Mushimaro to be sent to Usa to receive his will.’ Since she is not strong enough to travel the distance, you shall go there instead of Mushimaro.” When Kiyomaro prayed at Usa in front of the shrine, a 30 feet tall figure that shone like a full moon suddenly appeared and told, “Ever since the creation of this nation, the sovereign and subject has strictly distinguished. No subject became sovereign. The imperial line must be continuous. Doukyo is irrational, arrogantly wants the sacred imperial treasures. An outlaw must be eliminated.” When Kiyomaro reported this to the Empress, Doukyo in anger made Kiyomaro and Hiromushi exiled to Oosumi and Bingo Provinces, respectively. Next year when Empress Shotoku passed away and the throne was succeeded by Emperor Kounin (光仁天皇, reigned 770-781), Doukyo who lost the support was exiled to Shimotsuke Province. Kiyomaro and Hiromushi were called back to the capital to serve for the government again.


Wild boars appeared during Kiyomaro’s travel to Oosumi Province. It was briefly written in Nihonkouki but in detail in the Legends of the loyal Wake-no-Kiyomaro (和氣淸麻呂忠義傳, Wake-no-kiyomaro chugi den).[4] “Doukyo cut the legs of Kiyomaro who was leaving from the capital. He tried to assassinate him at Mt. Ikoma in vain as a sudden thunderstorm obstructed the view and imperial soldiers came. On his way to Oosumi, Kiyomaro planned to drop at Usa Shrine to thank for the god’s will: It was when he came to Wakata Village, Usa District, Buzen Province, that some 300 wild boars emerged to protect him and escorted his palanquin about ten ri (ca. 40 km), before they disappeared into the forest. As soon as Kiyomaro prayed to the god, his wounds were healed and he was able to return on horseback.”


In the Legends of loyal Wake-no-Kiyomaro, it was also written that the Empress Shotoku’s despatch of the young Wake-no-Kiyomaro of thirty-five years old as an envoy to Usa Hachiman Shrine would have been recommended by Kibi-no-Makibi (吉備眞備), a senior advisor, who served the Empress ever since she was Princess Abe.


Wild boars protecting Wake-no-Kiyomaro’s palanquin (from a panel in Goou-jinja Shrine)



What was the true figure of the wild boars? The conjecture that they would have been the soldiers of a local lord who was loyal to the imperial court[5] was interesting to read.


In Goou-jinja Shrine, pairs of Shishi-komainu-like wild boar statues exist in front of the main gate and the warship hall, the inauguration date of which being the 23rd year of Meiji (1890) and the 18th year of Heisei (2006), respectively. There were several more single statues in the shrine’s yard.




Wild boar statues in front of the main gate (left) and the hall of Goou-jinja Shrine. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.




Wild boar statues in Goou-jinja Shrine. From the left: Side of the main gate, hand-wash basin at the hall, hand-wash basin at the rear of the hall, front of the holy tree. Photographed by M. I. 6 November 2018.



For reference, the hall of Goou-jinja Shrine and the portrait of Wake-no-Kiyomaro were depicted on the Ten Yen Convertible Note issued by the Bank of Japan in 1899 and circulated until 1939. The note was nicknamed Ura Inoshishi (lit. Rear wild boar) because on the rear side was a picture of a wild boar. The present writer remembers he saw an expired note in his childhood at his uncle’s house.




Ten Yen Convertible Note issued by the Bank of Japan. https://www.npb.go.jp/ja/museum/tenji/gallery/ura-inosisi.html



Wake Shrines which worship Wake-no-Kiyomaro exists also in Wake Town, Okayama Prefecture, and in Shukukubota, Makizono Town, Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture. The former is considered to have been founded long time ago as the shrine of Wake family by Otohikoou (弟彦王, a great-grandson of Nuteshiwake-no-mikoto (鐸石別命, a son of Emperor Suinin, 4th century) who is said to have settled in this district. This shrine which enshrines Otohikoou and his descendants, including Kiyomaro and Hiromushi was ranked as the Prefectural Shrine in 1919. The present hall was built in Meiji Era. The wild boar statues are rather new, built in the Heisei Era, according to Internet articles.


The site of the shrine in Kirishima City was identified in 1853 by Lord Nariakira Shimadzu of Kagoshima Clan as the place where Kiyomaro was exiled. The foundation of the shrine was petitioned in 1939 and the construction commenced in 1943 but completed after the War in 1946. In photographs in the Internet, wild boar statues seem to exist not only in front of the hall but also on the approach, although the details are not certain for the present author.




Left: Wake Shrine at Wake Town, Okayama Prefecture. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%92%8C%E6%B0%97%E7%A5%9E%E7%A4%BE

Right: Wake Shrine at Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture. http://kirishimakankou.com/guide/2013/06/post-62.html.



Wild boar statues in temples relates to Marishiten, a god of ancient Indian origin, Marīcī, which is the deified form of heat haze. According to the Buddhabhashita Marici Bodhisattva Sutra (佛説摩利支天經)[6], “He has a supernatural divine power, he always goes with the sun, the sun and moon cannot see him but he can see the sun. Man can neither see him, notice him, grasp him, seize him nor hurt him.” Since Marici is such an insubstantial entity that can never be injured or arrested, he was worshiped by warriors. The sutra also told the details for making figure of Marishiten as follows. “The figure should be similar to that of a nymph. Her height should be half a sun (ca. 3 cm) or one sun but less than two suns. She stands or sits on a lotus flower. Her crown, necklace and other accessories are elegant and must be neat. She has a fan in her hand which is similar to that of a nymph in front of Vimalakirti. Her right hand forms the Varada-mudra (wish-granting mudra). If you make such a figure and put it on your head or back or in your clothes, then due to the supernatural divine power you shall never meet a disaster and, in the place of your enemy, you shall win...”.[6a] Thus, it is said such warlords as Masashige Kusunoki and Toshiie Maeda put a small Marishiten figure in their helmet before they went to the front.[7]


The relation of Marishiten and wild boar is written in the Great Marici Bodhisattva Sutra (大摩里支菩薩經). In this case, “Marici has three faces and six arms. Three faces express angriness, Bodhisattva and a female child. Six hands hold such weapons as a bow, arrows, needles, wire, hooks, traps and truncheon, whereas the nymph-like figure has only one fan in one of the two hands. He rides on the back of a wild boar.”[7a] Among paintings and sculptures are some variation, ones with eight-arms, ones on a group of seven wild boars, etc.




Left and Middle: Nymph-like and Three-face-five-arm Marishiten pictures. Duplicated from the homepage of Kouyasan holy treasure house, http://www.reihokan.or.jp/syuzohin/hotoke/ten/marishi.html.

Right: Marishiten painted on the basis of Hokusai Katsushika Manga (illustrations), Duplicated from: https://www.ensenji.or.jp/blog/2478/.



Statues of wild boar found in front of the gate or in the precinct have no Marishiten on their back. This is considered not unreasonable as Marici is originally invisible.


Among sub-temples of Kenninji Temple (Rinzai  Sect of Zen Buddhism) is Zenkyoan Temple, dedicated to Marishiten, which was founded in 1333 by Rev. Daikansei-Sessho (大鑑淸拙正澄) from Fujian, China. The principal image has three faces and 6 arms and sits on a group of seven wild boars. Beside various common arms he has a wheel-like object behind his head, which must be a sudarshan chakra, i.e., a kind of discus weapon with 108 edges.


Four pairs of wild boar statues are placed in front of the hall, at the side of the approach from the main gate (south gate), in front of the west gate and at the side of the approach from the west gate. In addition, single wild boar statues were also found at the west approach and at the hand-wash basin. The design of the wild boar is various, some of the looked ferocious and some others, charming.




The main gate (Left) and the west gate (right) of Zenkyoan Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.




Left: The main hall of Zenkyoan Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.

Right: The three-face-six-arm Marishiten statue of Zenkyoan Temple. Duplicated from the homepage of the temple, http://zenkyoan.jp/about_marishiten/#c02.




Wild boar statues in front of the main hall (Left) and at the south approach of Zenkyoan Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.




Wild boar statues in front of the main hall (Left) and at the south approach of Zenkyoan Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.




Wild boar statues by the side of west approach (left) and at the hand-wash basin of Zenkyoan Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 6 November 2018.



At Kenninji Temple, the present writer went to see the original “Wind and Thunder Gods” painted by Soutatsu Tawaraya



The wind gad and thunder god painted by Soutatsu Tawaraya at Kenninji Temple. Duplicated from: https://www.kenninji.jp/gallery/.



Another example of wild boar statue is found at Choushoin Sub-temple of Nanzenji Temple in a northwest district of Kyoto.




Front view of Choushoin Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 10 October 2018.




Wild boar statues in front of the hall of Choushoin Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 10 October 2018.



Marishiten was adopted by the Nichiren  Sect of Buddhism as a Gohouzenshin (護法善神, heavenly gods who protect Buddha and Buddhists).[8] The present writer has leant that a Marishiten statue which is said to be the work of Prince Shotoku (聖徳太子) is held in Myosenzan-Tokudaiji Temple (妙宣山徳大寺), Ueno, Tokyo, and that a pair of wild boar statues stand in front of the hall of Eishozan Honpouji Temple (叡昌山本法寺), Nishijin, Kyoto, but has not visited those places.




Tiger statues

Tiger statues are seen in temples dedicated to Bishamonten (毘沙門天, Skt: Vaisravana), one of the Four Devas who protects the Buddhist world at four sides together with Jikokuten (持国天, Dhritarashtra), Koumokuten (廣目天, Virupaksa) and Zouchoten (増長天, Virudhaka). The fact that Bishamonten has a relation with tiger is only in Japan.


According to the legend of Shigisan Chogosonsiji Temple (信貴山眞言宗朝護孫子寺, Shingon  Sect)[9], it was in 582 AD during the reign of Emperor Bitatsu (敏達天皇) “When Prince Shotoku came to this temple in Yamato Province to beat Moriya Monobe, an Emperor's enemy (anti-Buddhist), and prayed, Bishamonten appeared in the air and gave a secret strategy. Incidentally it was the time of tiger, the day of tiger and the year of tiger. After defeating the enemy (in the 2nd year of Emperor Youmei, 587 AD), Prince Shotoku carved a statue of Bishamonten himself, built a temple and named it Shin-gi-san, i.e., a holy mountain to be believed and respected.” Later, Prince Shotoku founded the seven main temples, including the Houryuji Temple (法隆寺), to establish the regime with Buddhism as the national religion. In the early 9th century, the disease of Emperor Daigo was magically healed when Rev. Myoren prayed. Thus, the temple was granted a holy name, Chogosonshiji Temple.

The image of Bishamonten which Prince Shotoku saw at Mt. Shigi (Shigisan) would have been a Brockengespenst (Brocken spectre), although this interpretation may spoil the sanctitude of the story.

In Singisan, tiger statues of various designs were found on the approach to the Golden Hall of Chogosonsi Temple, four items as far as the present writer witnessed, but they all were not the paired guardian tiger statues.



A view of Shigisan Chogosonshiji Temple from the Great Gate (Photographed by M. Iguchi, November 2021).



Left: A Big papier‐mâché tiger in the rear side of The Great Gate; Right: The statue of a tigress with cubs that appeared next on the way to the Main Temple (Photographed by M. Iguchi, November 2021).
Left: A tiger statue in a cage just before the Seifukuin Temple (成福院); Right: Statues of tiger family in a cage in front of the Seifukuin Temple (成福院) (both photographed by M. Iguchi, November 2021). .



Kuramasan Kuramadera Temple (鞍馬山鞍馬寺, Kurama-koukyo Sect that became independent in 1947 from the Shingon Sect) in the North-Mountains in Kyoto is also related to tiger as the temple’s legend says as follows:
On the Tiger Day of 4th January in 770 AD, when Gantei (鑑禎), a senior disciple of Rev. Ganjin (鑑真), climbed up to Mt. Kurama on the back of a white horse, led by a dream, a witch appeared but he was safe by praying to Vaisravana. A humble hut he built and dedicated to Vaisravana is said to have been the origin of this temple.” In front of the temple’s Golden Hall was a pair of guardian tiger sttues.


The Golden Hall of Kuramasan Kuramadera Temple (Photographed by M. Iguchi, November 2021).



A pair of tiger statues in front of The Golden Hall of Kuramasan Kuramadera Temple (Photographed by M. Iguchi, November 2021).



 In addition to temples of Shingon Sect, tiger guardian statues are found also in Rinzai and Nichiren Sects temples as examples are shown below..


Tamonin Bishamondo Temple (多聞院毘沙門堂, Shingon Sect), Tokorozawa

Front view of Tamonin Bishamondo Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 16 October 2018.

Located at 1501 Nakatomin, Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, built by Lord Yoshiyashu Yanagisawa of Kawagoe Clan. According to the temple’s legend, Bishamonten statue of this temple had been carried by Shingen Takeda, a warlord, in his helmet for war.




Tiger statues in front of the hall of Tamonin Bishamondo Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 16 October 2018.

Inscribed as: Dedicated by Kawagoeya Shinzo, Edo Gofukubashi-gai, September 1866.



Ryousokuin Bishamondo Temple (毘沙門天堂, Rinzai Sect), Sub-temple of Kenninji Temple, Kyoto 

Front of the hall of Ryousokuin Bishamondo Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 9 October 2018.




Tiger statues in front of the hall of Ryousokuin Bishamondo Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 9 October 2018.

Dedicated by Isuke Takeuchi of Matsubara Karasuma and Shu Sasaki of Gionkouji, carved by Heishiro Tsuji.



Tamonsan Tengenji Temple (多聞山天現寺, Rinzaishu-Tokudaiji Sect), Tokyo

Riving quarter (front) and the hall (back) of Tamonsan Tengenji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 15 October 2018.




Left: Tiger statues in front of the hall of Tamonsan Tengenji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 15 October 2018. The statues were carved by Toubei Tachiuri of Kyobashi and dedicated by the group of believers of Tomisawa-cho.

Right: Tiger statues in front of the living quarter of Tamonsan Tengenji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 15 Octber 2018. The statues were carved by Choubei and dedicated by Sagamiya and Kuroki.



Chingosan Senkokoji Temple (鎭護山善國寺, Nichiren Sect) at Kagurazaka, Tokyo


Front and tiger statues of Chingosan Senkokoji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 October 2018.

The temple was originally founded at Bakurou-cho by Rev. Nissei, the 12th Chief Priest of Ikegami-Honmonji Temple, requested by Ieyasu Tokugawa. After fires, it was moved to Kouji-machi and finally at he present site in 1793. The statues were carved and dedicated by Shirouyemon Hirata and Choyemon Yanagisawa.



Shoruzan Seidenji Temple (松流山正傳寺, Nichiren Sect), Tokyo


Front and tiger statues of Shoruzan Seidenji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 15 Octber 2018.

Located at 1-12-2 Shiba, Minato, Tokyo. Originated from a hermitage of Emperor Goyousei (1586-1611). The principal image, Bishamonten, is said to have been the work of Rev. Dengyo (alias Saicho, 767-822). The tiger statues were dedicated in 1931.



All tiger statues shown above were dated. Among them, the figure of those which were worked and/or dedicated before late Edo Period (the end of the 18th century) did not look like real tigers. Live tiger were imported into Japan already in Adzuchi Period in the 3rd year of Genki Era (1572).[9a] In the Edo Period, tigers were popular, as they were shown to public in show-booths and painted by Jakuchu Ito (1716-1800), Rosetsu Nagasawa (1754-1799), et al., but the sculptors of such tiger statues as above are supposed to have not seen them.


The present writer has learnt that fine tiger statues can be seen in Kuramasan Kuramaji Temple in Kyoto and wish to visit theme sometime.




Mouse statues

Mouse statues placed at shrines which worship Ookuninushinomikoto (or Lord Ookuninushi, 大國主命) relate to a legend, written in Kojiki (古事記), which is briefly as follows.


“Ashiharashikowo-no-mikoto (or Lord Ashiharashikowo, 葦原色許男命), who later became Ookuninushi-no-mikoto, arrived at Nenokatasu Country (根堅州国) where Susanowo-no-mikoto (or Lord Susanowo, 須佐之男命) resided, and met Suseri-hime-no-mikoto (Lady-Princess Suseri, 須勢理毘賣命), daughter of Susanowo. They immediately fell in love with each other and had an intercourse. Susanowo who did not like to approve Ashiharashikowo to be his daughter’s partner put him into various trials. Ashiharashikowo was given a snake hut and a bee hive hut but he escaped danger by waving a scarf, which had been given by the princess, as she told. He won a swimming race. Finally he was invited to an archery competition and, in the grass field, surrounded by fire which was intentionally set by Susanowo but, guided by a flock of mice, fled for safe into a hole under the ground. After then, Susanowo gave an orders to Ashiharashikowo and Suseri to get rid of lice from his hair but the couple deceived him and, while he fell into asleep, rowed the boat far out to the sea.”[10] Thus, mice became the divine messenger (or kindred) of Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto. For reference, the above episode was written in The aged Susanowo-no-Mikoto,[11] a novel by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.


Daikokusha Shrine (大國社), a sub-shrine of Ootoyo Shrine (大豊神社) at the Higashiyama hillside in Kyoto is known as a shrine which worships Ookuninushi-no-mikoto (大國主命). The mouse statues of the present writer’s target found in front of the shrine looked old significantly old ones but they were really not, the year of dedication being inscribed as 1969. The round vessel and scroll held by the left- and right-hand side statues are said to represent sake (the medicine for perennial youth and long life) and the archive of knowledge, respectively, according to an Internet article[12].




The front and the mouse statues of Daikokusha Shrine, in the precinct of Ootoyo Shrine, Kyoto. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 9 October 2018. Built 5 May 1969, designed by the Priest Tsuneyoshi Kobayashi and donated by believers to commemorate the renewal of roof.



Sugiyama Shrine at Tobe in Yokohama is another shrine in which Ookuninushi-no-mikoto is enshrined. According to the shrine’s legend,[13] the foundation dates back to 652 AD in Asuka Period when a part of the deity of Izumotaisha Shrine (出雲大社) was ceded: Although the shrine had been revered as the regional shrine, all buildings and treasures were burnt away by the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and, after an absence, the shrine was rebuilt in 1966. Both the left- and right-hand side mouse statues found in front of the shrine held a magic mallet in their right hands. Since the inscription on their basement was read as, “1350th Year Anniversary” and “Members of Ceremonial Project Committee”, the year of dedication is known as 2002. In front of the worship hall were a pair of Chinse-type guardian statues. In the precinct, a sculpture of Ookuninushi-no-mikoto, holding a magic mallet in his right-hand, carrying a big bag on his left shoulder and sitting on three bales of rice, dedicated by Mr. Toshio Kurosawa, an actor, was found. The present writer remember that he was told in his childhood that the three bales of rice of Ookuninushi-no-mikoto (or Daikokuten) represents the amount of rice for a person for one year, although the source is unknown.




The front and the mouse states of Tobe Sugiyama Shrine, Yokohama. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 2 February 2019.




Statues of Shishi-komainu lions and a Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto at Tobe Sugiyama Shrine, Yokohama. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 2 February 2019.



Ookuninushi Shrine in Naniwa-ku, Osaka, is said to be famous as a shrine to worship Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto. Recently (September 2019), the present writer visited there on the occasion of travelling to Osaka. The shrine was found as an auxiliary shrine in the precinct of Shikitsumatsunomiya Shrine which enshrined Susanowo-no-mikoto or Ookuninushi-no-mikoto, located near the Daikoku-cho Station of Midousuji/Yotsuhashi underground lines. On the banner on the front of the shrine was said Daikoku-sama. In the same precinct was another small shrine called Kusunoki-inari-shrine. The mouse statues were rather new as inscribed on the foundation as the 59th year of Showa (1984).



Left: Ookuninushi Shrine. Middle and Right: Mouse statues. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 29 September 2019.



Left: Shikitsumatsunomiya Shrine. Right: Kusunoki-inari Shrine. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 29 September 2019.



Mouse statues do exist also in a Buddhist temple, Shojusan Fukusouji Temple (Nichiren Sect) in Horinouchi, Suginami, Tokyo, which enshrines Daikokuten (大黑天). Why mice in a Buddhist temple? The reason is simple. A theory[14] has it that, because the Chinese characters for Ookuni (大國) can be alternatively read as Daikoku, Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto was syncretised to Daikokuten in the course of history. Thus, mice which were the divine messengers of Ookuninushi-no-Mikoto would have been automatically adopted to Daikokuten.


Daikokuten, who was derived from Mahakala, the Hindu God of Darkness, or an incarnation of Siva, was introduced in the 7th century into Tan Dynasty China by I-Tsing and transcribed as “.[15] In Japan, it is said that Rev. Saicho (最澄) had worshipped Mahakala for the first time in the 8th century as written in the Legend of Three-faced Daikokuten of Hieizan.[16] The story is briefly as follows. “During the construction of Konpon-Central Hall at Mt. Hiei (in the 7th year of Enryaku, 788 ZD), a hermit appeared in front of him. Asked who he was, he recited the phrases of Hokke Sutra (Lotus Sutra). When Saicho begged supports for his disciple monks, the hermit said, “I shall give you food for three thousand persons every day. I shall bestow happiness, prosperity and longevity on those people who revere me.” Saicho who thought the hermit must be the Three-faced Daikokuten purified himself, carved a Three-face-six-arm Daikokuten statue, in the “one cut-three bows” manner, and dedicated the statue in the hall.”


According to Historical Document of Tokyo City,[17] Shojusan Fukusouji Temple was founded by Nichiren Priest, Nichiju (日重) in 1589 at Shitaya and later moved to Keiseigakubo (Koishikawa-Hakusan-mae) [Revised Edo Bulletin]; The founder’s statue is the work of Rev. Nisshin (日親) [Hokke sacred sites]; The gate is wood-made, the crest of Igeta (shape of the character, ) is on the door, the hall faces north; in front of the hall are statues of mouse (one pair) mounting on the bale of rice, behind the hall is a small pond [New Illustrated Tokyo Sights]: etc. The temple was moved to the present site in the 12th year of Showa (1937).


In the present Fukusouji Temple, the pair of mouse statues existed not right in front of the hall but on the left-hand side of the entrance, presumably because the hall is not in the right front of the gate. The sculpturing was detailed as the body hair was lined on the stone surface but no whiskers were added. On the sides of the basements were inscribed the list of donators, i.e., 16 from Osaka, 3 from Kyoto, 1 from Senshu-Sakai and 8 from Edo, “The coordinators: Izumiya Kichiemon and Kugiya Jubei of Osaka”, “The petitioner: Imadzuya Heiemon of Edobashi (Osaka)”, and the date, 3rd year of Kaei (1850), suggesting that this temple was supported also by merchants of Osaka-Kyoto area.


On the stone pole which is supposed to be a flagpole were inscriptions, “Nam Elegant Hokke Lotus Sutra, Mangan-Daikikuten Deity (願満大天神)”, indicating that this pole was also moved from the previous site, Koishikawa Hakusan-mae. In the front yard was also a small three-layer tower which looked old. The crest of Igeta written in the [New Illustrated Tokyo Sights] was not illustrated on the gate door but on the brass-made rain-water receivers (dedicated on the 15th August 1960) on the both sides of the hall entrance was a crest, an Igeta enclosing a lotus flower. The same crest was also found on the ridge-end tiles of the gate’s and hall’s roofs and the offertory chest. On the south side (right side) of the hall was the living quarter. On the rear side (west side) and the north side were occupied by graveyards and the small pond written in the [New Illustrated Tokyo Sights] was not found. With regard to the statue of Mangan-Daikikuten Deity, a legend was told on the guide board that “The 16th Chief Priest, Rev. Nichigen saw a statue which was said to have been the work of Rev. Dengyo (教大師, alias Saicho) in Osaka in a house of a person who had been ill for a long time. When Nichigen cleaned the statue and prayed, the ill was healed. Thus, the statue was presented to Nichigen and placed in the hall of his temple.” This statue (not open for public), the pair of mouse statues and a number of printing wood blocks are registered as Tangible Cultural Properties of Suginami.[18]


Such statues of mouse mounting on the bales of rice, instead of Daikokuten, do not seem to exist in other temples in Japan, as far as the present writer has surveyed, and considered to be very important.




The gate (left) and the hall (right) of Shojusan Fukusouji Temple. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 February 2019.




Left: Front of the hall of Shojusan Fukusouji Temple. Mouse statues, a flagpole and a rain-water receiver are seen. Right: Mouse statues and a flagpole (close-up). Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 February 2019.




Details of mouse statues in Shojusan Fukusouji Temple. Left statue (front, rear), Right statue (front, rear). Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 February 2019.



Mangan-Daikikuten of Shoshusan Fukusouji Temple (not open for public). Duplicated from:  http://www.city.suginami.tokyo.jp/_res/projects/default_project/_page_/001/031/586/75.pdf




Fox statues

Fox statues can be seen in Inari Shrines, everywhere in Japan, the number of which being estimated as many as over thirty-thousand, but the principal deity of Inari Shrine is Inari-shin (稲荷神, lit. the god of rice) and foxes are assumed to have been made the deity messengers (or kindred) in the Heian Period, due to the fact that the shape and colour of fox’s tail resemble the ear of rice plant and also the fact that foxes catch mice which eat away rice.[19]


The head shrine of Inari Shrines is the Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine (伏見稲荷大社), located in Fukakusa, Fushimi, Kyoto, on the hill of Mt. Inari at the south end of Higashiyama Thirty-six Peaks. According to the shrine’s legend, the Inari-shin came to settle at Mt. Inari in 711 AD. Although it was a weekday morning when I visited there, anywhere from the approach to the precinct was full of people and reminded me of the climax scene of the novel by Ougai Mori, The vengeance at Gojiingahara,[20] in which Bunkichi visited Tamatsukuri-Fukuu Inari Shrine to enquire an oracle. In fact, the present writer needed to be patient to wait for the momentary dispersion of people to press my camera shutter.




Left: Ootorii (The grand gate) of Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine, Kyoto. Right: A part of the Senbon Torii (One thousand Gate) of Fushimi Inari, viewed from the upper side. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 10 October 2018.




Pairs of fox statues at The grand gate (left) and at the starting point to Mt. Inari by the Worshipping Hall (right). Photographed by M. Iguchi, 10 October 2018.



The four foxes in the above pictures, from the left to the right, hold in their mouth a scroll, an orb, an ear of rice plant and a key, in their mouth, which symbolise the knowledge, the spirit of the god, the good harvest and the key of granary, respectively.[21]


The Otome Inari Shrine (乙女稲荷神社), a sub-shrine of Nedzu Shrine (enshrined deity: Susanowo-no-Mikoto), Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo is another place the present writer has visited. The two statue foxes in this shrine showed open and closed mouths, the typical mouth-forms of Shishi-komainu guardian lion statues.



The approach to the Nedzu Shrine, Tokyo. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 October 2018.




The front and the fox statues of Otome-Inari Shrine, in the precinct of Nedzu Shrine, Tokyo. Photographed by M. Iguchi, 13 October 2018.




Ox statues

Kitano Shrine, located at Koishikawa in Tokyo (1-chome, Bunkyo-ku), is related to an ox, as it is known as Ushi-Tenjin (lit. Ox-Heavenly deity), and in the precinct is a pair of ox statues which guards the main hall. According to the guide board in the precincts, the history is essentially as follows.


“In the spring of 1184, the 3rd Year of Juei Era, when General Lord Yoritomo of Genji was waiting for the calm of the sea on the estuary near-by during his campaign to the north-east Japan, Godly Michizane Sugawara on the back of a divine ox appeared in his dream and told him he would have two fortunes. When he awoke, beside him was a rock which resembled the ox. In fact a son, Yori-ie was born in autumn and the archenemy Heike was defeated next year to restore peace. Then, Lord Yoritomo built this Tenjin Shrine for Godly Sugawara and contributed a land, the 1st Year of Genryaku Era.”


Certainly the shrine deifies Michizane Sugawara, as written in the guide board. The phrase, “the estuary near-by”, may be questionable for some readers. Although this place is now far away from the sea, the coastline of before land reclamations and river works were implemented after the Edo Period was complicated.


Edo Bay in the Doukan Period. Motoki Kuroda, "Illustrated Doukan", Ebisukosho Publishing 2009 (Redrawn by the present writer.)

Doukan Oota (1432 - 1486) was a powerful vassal of the Uesugi Family in the Muromachi Period (1336 - 1576). He built Edo Castle in 1457.


According to “The History of Koishikawa Ward (1935)”[1], this area was a busy town as described in “Illustrated Famous Places in Edo” and nightlife spot as included in Kunisada Utagawa’s “One hundred Beauties in Edo (1857).


Illustration of Ushi-Tenjin Shrine, in: Nagaaki Saito (ed.), Settan Hasegawa (illust.) “Illustrated Famous Places in Edo” Vol. 4, Part 4/4, Suharaya Ihachizou Press 1834-1836. Duplicated from: https://jinjamemo.com/archives/ushitenjinkitanojinja.html



Left: Kunisada Utagawa: “One hundred Beauties in Edo: Koishikawa Ushi-Tenjin (1857). Held by Tokyo Metropolitan Library. Duplicated from: https://ja.ukiyo-e.org/image/metro/025-C001-035. Right: Cut of the same, enlarged.


The approach seen in the right-hand side in the “Illustrated Famous Places in Edo” had been demolished and now we ascend the stone steps above “Rear Gate” found on the left-had side. Cleaning hands at the hand-wash basin found by the left-had side in the front and entering the gate guarded by shishi-komainu statues, we meet a pair of ox-statues. In the left corner lies the ox-shaped rock which Yoritomo saw in his dream. Since the stone was drawn in the Illustrated Famous Places in Edo” on the left side of the “Rear Gate”, it must have been hoisted above the hill in a later time. 


Kitano Shrine – Ushi-Tenjin, front view of the main hall.  Photographed by the present writer, 2020.07.27.



Kitano Shrine – Ushi-Tenjin, the pair of ox statues in front of the main hall. Photographed by the present writer, 2020.07.27.


Kitano Shrine – Ushi-Tenjin, the ox-shaped rock which is said to have been seen by Yoritomo in his dream. 2 Photographed by the present writer, 2020.07.27.


In the middle of the precincts was a large sacred tree of Mokkoku (Cleyera) and on the edge of the southern cliff was a Poem monument of Utako Nakajima, a famous female poet in the early Meiji Period who opened a private school, “Haginoya”, to teach poem and calligraphy. For reference, Ichiyo Higuchi was her pupil.



Left: The sacred tree of Mokkoku (Cleyera) in Kitano Shrine – Ushi-Tenjin. Right: The Poem monument of Utako Nakajima, a female poet in the early Meiji Period. Both photographed by the present writer, 2020.07.27.


In the precinct were two sub-shrines, Oota Shrine and Takagi Shrine, which enshrines the god of the performing arts and the god of five grains but they are not described about in this article.




[1] Takawosan Jingoji Temple Homepage: http://www.jingoji.or.jp/

[2] まうで (Kami-maude=Visiting Shrines), Ministry of Railways 1933, p.89-90.

[3] Yoshyuki Ogino, 註釈日本歴史 (Interpretation of Japan’s history), Tokyo Hakubunkan, 1919; Nobuo Kuroita, Tei Morita, 日本後紀 (Nihon Kouki), Shueisha, 2003; Mutsuo Hayashi, 完訳注釈続日本紀:5(Perfect translation: Shoku-Nihonki: Vol.5), Gendai-shisosha, 1988; etc.

[4] Hikoichi Naito (ed.), 和氣清麻呂忠義傳 (Legends of loyal Wake-no-Kiyomaro), Naito Hiroichi Publ., 1887.

[5] Shoichi Watanebe, 日本史百人一首 (Nihonshi Hyakunin-isshu), Fusousha 2008.

[6] Kengyo Tsukamoto (ed.), 国訳密教: 経軌. 第1 (Translation of Esoteric Buddhist Sutras No.1), Kokuyaku Mikkyo Kankoukai 1920-23.

[7]  Zenkyoan Homepage: http://zenkyoan.jp/about_marishiten/

[8] Marishiten Tokudaiji Homepage: http://www5b.biglobe.ne.jp/~marisitn/marisiten.htm

[9] According to the homepage of Shinkisan Chougosonshi (http://www.sigisan.or.jp/), the year was 582 AD during the reign of Emperr Bitatshu.

[9a] In the column of the 3rd year of Genki Era (1572) in Chikuun Uchihashi (Ed.), Nagasaki Nenreki Roumen Kan (lit. Double-sided mirror of Nagasaki chronicle) 1828, it was recorded, "A Chinese ship arrived at the port of Usuki, Bungo District. The ship brought 4 tigers, 1 big elephant, peacocks, owls, musk and various other items."

[10] Yoshinori Yamaguchi, Takamitsu Jinnoji(trans), 新編日本古典文学全集 (1) 古事記 (New Ed. Japan Classic Literature (1)Kojiki), Shogakkan 1997.

[11] Ryunosuke Akutagwa, ひたる素戔嗚尊 (Aged Susanowo-no-Mikoto), published in 1920.

[12] http://www9.plala.or.jp/sinsi/07sinsi/fukuda/nezumi/nezumi-2.html

[13] Sugiyama Shrine Brochure.

[14] Noboru Miyata (ed.), 神仏信仰事典シリーズ: 七福神信仰事典 (Encyclopaedia of Gods and Buddha), Ebisukousho Publ., 1998.
Sadahiko Tanido, 七福神と聖天さん民間信仰の歴(Shichifukujin and Seiten), Taigen Publ., 2005.
Hieizan Enryakuji Homepage: https://www.hieizan.or.jp/wp-content/themes/enryakuji/pdf/daikoku_engi.pdf

[17] Tokyo City Office (ed.), 東京市史稿:宗教篇第三 (Tokyo City History Archive), 1940.

[18] http://www.city.suginami.tokyo.jp/kyouiku/bunkazai/sitei/1032395.html

[19] Yo Nakamura, イチから知りたい日本の神さま[2]稲荷大神 (Shichifukujin), Ebisukousho Publ., 2009.
[20] Ougai Mori
, 護持院原の敵討 (Gojiingahara no katakiuchi). First published 1913.
[21] Multiple number of websites with no references.

[22] Koishikawa Ward (edit) “The History of Koishikawa Ward”, Koishikawa Ward (1935)