Tough guys

The two muscle-bound figures with crazy hair on these fan-shaped hashioki are well-known Japanese deities.

IMG_1984Raijin, the first deity, is the Japanese god of thunder, storms and lightening. He is often depicted carrying dumbbell-shaped hammers, as he is here, and you can just make out the canopy of drums that he uses to make thunder floating above his head. Japanese parents tell their children to hide their belly buttons during thunderstorms because rumor has it that Raijin likes to eat the navels of little children.

Fujin, the companion deity, is the Japanese god of wind. He usually carries of big bag ofIMG_1985 wind above his shoulders, as he does here, and is often shown wearing a leopard skin.

In Japan you often see Raijin and Fujin in cages at the entrance to Buddhist temples; the cages are probably meant to protect the statues from birds, and not to restrain the gods from attacking mortals. Despite their presence at Buddhist temples, these deities are actually part of Japan’s Shinto creation myth. According to the Kojiki, the “Record of Ancient Things” compiled in 712 CE, Raijin and Fujin were created by the twin gods Izanagi and Izanami after they founded Japan. Fujin blew away the fog between heaven and earth, which allowed the sun to shine on the newly-created land of Japan, and then Raijin created thunder with his drums, creating rain to water the barren soil.

Raijin and Fujin, or beings who are very much like them, also appear in many modern Japanese manga and video games.


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