There are some animals and creatures in Japanese mythology. Almost of them are servants of gods. For example, foxes are servants of Inari-shin, who is a god of harvest.
Only two creatures took part in a category of gods -that is to say, wolves and snakes-.
Chichibu had been the most active area of a faith to wolves.
Long time ago, Yamato-Takeru-no-Mikoto [日本武尊] (who is one of heroes in Japanese mythology) went on an expedition. But when he went through in the deep forest of Chichibu [秩父] mountains, it was in a dense fog and he lost his way. Then, one white wolf appeared in front of him. The white wolf walked a head of him and guided to the outside of the forest. He escaped the deep forest at last.
Yamato-Takeru-no-Mikoto greatly appreciated a help of a white wolf. He constructed a shrine. The wolf which helped him was joined in a group of gods. The god of the wolf was called "Ooguchi-no-Magami [大口真神]". (It means "a god of a big mouth".)
There are still lots of shrines where Ooguchi-no-Magami is enshrined at the foot of Chichibu Mountains. Mitsumine Shrine, Ryogami Shrine, Mitake Shrine and so on.
Komainu [狛犬](Guardian Dogs) are always sitting the both sides of a shrine's approach. Komainu in almost shrines are the lion style, and Komainu in Inari Shrine are the fox style. But those shrines have Komainu of the wolf style. They a bit look like Komainu of the fox type. But They the Wolf Type's eyes are sharper, fangs are bigger and tail is smaller than the Fox Type. And the Wolf Type has a fine mane. You could count his ribs. Their figures show them intrepid.
Japanese are originally agricultural people. Japanese hadn't had a culture of eating meats and drinking milk for over 1,000 years. Especially it had been hated to eat four footed animals. Japanese had got protein from fish and seafood.
Therefore Japanese hadn't hunt animals except a few hunters, and never bred livestock for eating for a long time till the Edo period. It originated the taboo of Buddhism.
Anyway, wolves hadn't been a rival for Japanese people in ancient times, because Japanese hadn't need to competed with wolves for quarry animals, and hadn't set their nerves on edge for wolves' attacks to livestock.
Or rather, they wolves were sometimes hunt herbivores (deer, wild-bores and so on) which despoiled rice and crops from fields. So they regarded wolves as a good animal which were guardians of fields. Relation of wolves and people had been not bad for a long time.
Wolves were done the apotheosis because of their ferocity.
Ooguchi-no-Magami was able to understand human's languages and judge a true character of people. Good people were protected and bad people were punished by the god of the wolf. They wolves were written on Ema [絵馬](votive tablets which were written hopes and dreams by people). People believed wolves had a mysterious power and prevented misfortune, fire and robbery.
Wolves are called "ookami" in Japanese. According to one theory, the word "ookami" originates "Ooguchi-no-magami".
Other journals about Japan
Japanese Guardian Dog "Komainu" [link]
Kanji in Japanese Language [link]
Cherry Blossoms across the Pacific Ocean [link]
Japanese Dogs 1 (Akita) [link]
Japanese Dogs 2 (Shiba) [link]
Japanese Dog 3 (Relation between Dogs and Wolves) [link]
Snow Wall Japan [link]
My fan club was opened.
It's a big pleasure for me. ^^
My fan club
I hope you will also join it. ^^
My characters' introduction
Perhaps new visitors don't know their character and backbone. So I write their introduction on my journal. I changed design of their costume recently.
Takeru [ 武 ]
He is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone"
He is a son of the "Hero of Fire", who passed away (or missed) several years ago. Takeru is proud of his father.
Takeru's mane is brilliant red. His element is fire. He is a brave and indomitable male wolf.
I imaged his costume from Yoroi [ 鎧 ] and Kabuto [ 兜 ]. Yoroi is a traditional Japanese armor which was used by Samurai [ 侍 ]. Kabuto is a helmet used with a yoroi.
An golden something on his head is Kuwagata [ 鍬 形 ]. Kuwagata is a kabuto's decoration. I guess its shape originates from stag beetles and deer. It was a symbol of power and nobility for higher samurai in rank.
A red something on his shoulders are Osode [ 大 袖 ]. Osode is a part of a yoroi. It protected his shoulder from the attacks. It did the function of a shield. Samurai guarded enemy's attack by it. So samurai never had a shield in a battle.
Parts on his front legs are gauntlets. It's called Kote [ 籠手 ]. Kote is samurai's gauntlet.
His symbol on his Kote is Kamon [ 家 紋 ]. Kamon is Japanese family heraldic symbol. Almost all of Japanese have Kamon.
This kamon is "Taka no Ha" [ 鷹 の 羽 ]. It means "Falcon's plume". Two plume cross in the circle. It is one of the popular kamon in Japan. Especially samurais were fond of using this, because they hoped they lived like a brave falcon.
And as this is my family's kamon, So I love it.
Oto (Oto-Tachibana) [ 乙 橘 ]
She is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". Her element is water.
She is an affectionate, merciful and mild girl. But she will get angry if enemies hurt her family and friends, especially she terribly furious when Takeru is hurt by enemies.
Oto's mother is "the Foxes", father is "the Wolves". So she and her brother is a wolf/fox hybrid. They make good use of wonderful power like Magic, which is called "Genjutu" or "Youjutu".
(Actually, foxes appear in a lot of Japanese folklore as mysterious characters. They often tricked and cursed the people in a weird power. On the other hand, they are worshiped as the servants of Inari-shin. Inari-shin is a god of a good harvest.Well… why did they become the servants of Inari-shin?Since foxes have big tails which looks like good ears of rice, they became it.)
She lost her mother and missed her brother several years ago. Then the Chief (Takeru's grandfather) found her and he has brought up her as his child with Takeru and Inayori.)
She hoped she can meet her brother again someday.
I imaged her ribbon from Hagoromo ( 羽 衣 ) of Tennyo ( 天 女 ).
Tennyo are women who live on heaven. They appear in many Japanese tradision.
They cloth in Hagoromo. Hagoromo has a mysterious power. Tennyo can fly the sky, 'cause they cloth in it.
The follow is one of Japanese folklore.
Long long ago, One Tennyo came from heaven to the earth and played in the water. She took off her Hagoromo and hung it on the tree. One man saw it. He became to love her. So he stole and hid her Hagoromo. Tennyo wasn't able to go back to heaven. She cried and begged him to give her clothes back. But he refused. She had no choice but to married him...
Someday a child was born from her, and he was going to be very happy. But one day, she found her Hagoromo.
She alone went back to heaven. He cried. But she was never going to be back him...
~ Tennyo's folklore exists not only Japan but also East Asia and South-East Asia. ~
Mikabosi [ 甕 星 ]
He is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". His element is sky.
He is clever and keen wolf. But, at first he confronts Takeru. His girlfriend was taken as a hostage by monsters and he can't disobey their order. But Mikaboshi and Takeru co-operate and rescue his girlfriend from the enemies. Mikabosi thanks Takeru greatly and he becomes Takeru's best friend.
I imaged his armour from an armour (bogu) [ 防 具 ] of Kendo [ 剣 道 ]. Kendo is a Japanese martial art of sword fighting based on a martial art of samurai "Kenjutsu" [ 剣 術 ]. Kendo originates samurais' sword skills in the battle field. There is samurais' way of the life "Bushido" in kendo. It means not only "strength" but also "brevity", "aggressiveness", "politeness", "respect", "calmness", "generosity" and "nobility".
I like a design of Kendo armour.
Yachihoko [ 八 千 矛 ]
He is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". His element is thunder.
He is a strong and gentle wolf. He like to take care of puppies and weak. But he has a sad memory. His family was killed by enemies and became an orphan. But he overcome the trouble and became a strong warrior. He has hoped to be strong for protecting his family and friends because he dislike to lost them again. He has trained his body and fighting skills hard.
Uzume [ 宇 売 ]
She is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". Her element is wind.
Her costume originated from Japanese Kimono [ 着 物 ] and Kanzashi [ 簪 ]. As you know, Kimono is Japanese traditional clothes. Kanzashi is a Japanese woman's traditional hair accessory which functions as a hair pin.
Uzume is a cheerful mood maker. Besides she can sing with beautiful voice.
Kibi [ 吉 備 ]
He is one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". His element is earth.
Kibi is a brave warrior. He will lose his friends because monsters kill them. He revenged them. Takeru and his company helped Kibi when Kibi fought against Ura, who killed Kibi's friend.
Inayori [ 稲 依 ]
He will be one of the "Heroes of Spiritual Stone". His element is light.
He is a second cousin of Takeru. (Takeru's father is the "Hero of Fire". An uncle of the "Hero of Fire" is the Chief. The chief's grandson is Inayori.
At first, he is a weak and coward puppy. But he will become a brave and strong male wolf as Takeru. Puppy Inayori didn't have a mane and fis fur's colour is all brown. But it will change gradually. Adult Inayori will have a golden mane and beautiful fur.
Hozumi [ 穂 積 ]
He is Oto's brother. His fur is black like mid-night. Oto can meet him after a lot of trouble. He will be the last one of"Heroes of Spiritual Stone". His element is night.