|Homepage Ralph Häussler||
Wolf Deities in Japan / Wolfgötter in Japan / Dieux-Loups en Japon / 狼の神話学
Please scroll down for INUIT, CHINA, MONGOLIA, TURKEY
Click here for part 1 of "Wolf Mythology". - Sorry, page is still "work in progress".
Yamazumisama - the honourable wolf deity
The sacred Mountain Wolf, 山犬, is also called Oinusama, 御犬様 (O-inu-sama, "Honorable Wolf Deity": inu means dog, but the words for dog and wolf are often used synonymously). For example, the Yamazumi Shrine (Misakubo, Shizuoka Prefecture) has a long history of wolf worship; founded in A.D. 709 when Oyamazu no Kami, generally called Yamazumi Daigongen, a wolf deity (Yamazumisama, 山住様 /ヤマズミサマ, "Deity living in the mountains"), was invited here from Iyo province. The shrine is famous for its wolf cult and the legend/myth tell us that,
"When Tokugawa Ieyasu took refuge in a mountain to escape from the attack of the Takeda clan, the mountain suddenly began to quake and he heard great roaring of a wolf, which drove away the enemy."
Interestingly, the Japanese word for wolf, ōkami (狼), is phonetically identical with the name of a great god or goddess, ōkami (大神: 大 (ō, “great”) + 神 (kami, “god, spirit”), as in the case of the great goddess Amaterasu, who is also called ōkami; however, she never seems to have been identified with a wolf, only in 21st-century adaptations of her myth, though we should not make any assumptions ex silentio.
The wolf is a guardian when it is properly attended to and cared for. - For example, he is a guardian who protects the traveller, as we can see in many myths and legends. Farmers used to worship wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer. Inu no ubumimai is a tradition in which one gives a female Honshu wolf rice when she gives birth to cubs; and in return she would protect the village and assist in danger (cf. Walker 2008). Here, we can also refer to India since Hindus traditionally considered that the hunting of wolves was a taboo since they feared that it may cause a bad harvest!
In Japan, talismans and charms adorned with images of wolves were thought to protect against fire, disease and other calamities and brought fertility to agrarian communities and to couples hoping to have children.
On wolves in Japan, cf. e.g. B.L. Walker, The Lost Wolves of Japan (2008), and J. Knight, Waiting for Wolves in Japan: An Anthropological Study of People-Wildlife Relations (2003).
White Wolf, Myoken Daibosatsu, and Misasa Onsen
I also found this story of a white wolf:
In the year 1164, Okubo Samanosuke (a samurai of Minamoto no Yoshitomo) was on a pilgrimage to the famous Mount Mitoku (in Tottori Prefecture, 990m; the "Mount of thee virtues", 三徳, santoku: Buddhism's three primary virtues: wisdom, renunciation & judgement) to pray for the revival of his house/country. On the way he met an old white wolf, divine messenger of the god Myoken Daibosatsu (妙見山 - the originally Indian deity Sudrsti; also the deified polar star). Although he took up his bow to shoot the wolf, he decided otherwise, helped the wolf in distress and let it go. The following night the god Myoken appeared in his dream and told Okubo Samanosuke about a sacred spring at the roots of the old camphor tree (Kusunoki, 老楠). The god Myoken revealed its location to Okubo in appreciation that he had spared the white wolf's life. Next day, Okubo discovered the hot spring (kabu-yo) at the place which the god indicated, and its water would heal many diseases of the local villagers. This was the beginning of Misasa Onsen which still today is a famous "spa" where the myth has been immortalised by a sculpture: see http://spa-misasa.jp/eng/.
Here, at Misasa Onsen, we also find the Misasa Jinsho, the "Tug-of-War Festival", a folk ritual that takes places between two teams that are divided into "east" and "west". The shape of the rope, formed from the fuji-kazura trees, from the sacred grounds of Mount Mitoku, represents the harmonising of humans with nature.
Again my apologies for the unreliable source: http://spa-misasa.jp/eng/ and http://heianperiodjapan.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/daibosatsu-legends.html and finally http://spa-misasa.jp/japan-heritage/en/spa-misa/ - If you know a better source of this myth, let me know please.