Friday, December 19, 2008
Shimoyama Inari shrine is on the large hill at the mouth of the Hamada River on the opposite bank to the Castle Hill.
If one counts all the smaller Inari shrines in the grounds of other shrines then Inari shrines are the most common in Japan.
Like most kami, Inari has had, and continues to have, multiple identities and meanings. Primarily it is the kami of foodstuffs, but also the kami of industry, which is why many companies either erect Inari shrines on their property, and/or donate torii to established shrines. Inari is often erroneously called a "fox god", but in fact the foxes are just the messengers of Inari.
At this shrine the main kami is listed as Kuramusubi which believed to be another name for Ukanomitama, the most "official" of representations of Inari, and a son of Susano. Inari has both male and female identities, Uganomitama being female. Inari also has hindu/buddhist manifestations, primarily as Daikiniten. The head shrine of Inari is at Fushimi near Kyoto. It was founded by the Hata family, an immigrant clan considered to be from Korea or China, though there are some who believe they are a lost tribe of Israel that wandered across Asia.
At Shiroyama Inari there is a secondary shrine to Sarutahiko who is also considered a manifestation of Inari sometimes, and a secondary shrine to Izanagi and Izanami, the creator couple who created the islands of Japan.