THE OKAZAKI COLLECTION
Figurine, Animal

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Record 2/66
Copyright PastPerfect Museum
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Collection Okasaki Collection
Description It is call "Oinari-san." It is a figurine of Inari fox. In Japan, there are many Inari Shrines in Japan. "What is Inari?" The main object of worship in Inari shrine is a Shinto deity called Uka no Mitama, a mythological god and is believed to be the patron deity of agriculture, grain in particular, including rice which is the staple food for the Japanese. In fact, Inari in Chiese charactors stands for "rice cargo," and it is one of the most popular deities in Japan with 32,000 sub-shrines located nationwide. Today, the shrines consist of two separate structures: Haiden, or the oratory, in front and Honden, or the sanctum, in the rear. Unlike the Buddhist temples, there is no statue or the like in both buildings.

"Inari and fox"- Inari shrine is closely associated with fox, which is believed to be the messenger of Inari deity. A pair of fox statues are always sitting in front of all Inari shrines just like a pair of dogs at other Shinto shrines. Precisely why fox is employed is not known. One folklorist points out that Inari was once syncretized with Dakini-ten (Dakini in Sanskrit), an attendant for Daikoku-ten (Mahakala in Skt., the god of Five Cereals) of Buddhism, when fox became Inari deity's messenger sice the object of worship for Dakini was a white fox.

Also symbolizing the Inari shrines are their deep red building and long rows of votive torii gates. The shrine here has as many as 40 torii gates and they stretch nearly 100 meters long, making them like a tunnel. Most of them are donated by the Shrine's patrons.

The right ear of fox was already lost. There is a word on the body of fox; "Rice Gods."
Dimensions H-4.2 W-1.8 L-2.7 inches
Category 8: Communication Artifact
Object ID 2002.0036
Object Name Figurine, Animal
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Last modified on: December 12, 2013