Konjin

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For the village in Iran, see Konjin, Iran.

Konjin (金神 "God of metals"?) is an itinerant kami (spirit) from Onmyōdō (a traditional Japanese cosmology and system of divination based on the Chinese philosophies of Wu Xing (Five Elements) and Yin and yang). Konjin is associated with compass directions, and said to change position with the year, lunar month, and season.

Konjin's momentary location in space at any given time is considered an unlucky direction, because this kami is stated to be particularly violent and said to punish through curses. Based on this, a calendar with astronomical and geomantic direction relations was created, which included interdictions (kataimi). A practice known as katatagae (changing directions) is used to avoid the worst directions on a given day, usually where Konjin, Ten'ichijin, and Taihakujin are currently located.

Katatagae was favored among Heian-period nobles and it became a part of their daily lives. The construction and renovation of houses, moving one's residence, public works construction, and traveling was strongly influenced by katatagae.

Konjin was said to be at tremendous power when residing as "Kimon Konjin" (Konjin of the Demon's Gate") at the two "demon's gates" (the northeast "front" gate called omote-kimon and the southwest "back" gate called ura kimon). Kyoto was supposedly protected from any bad influences by placing Saichō's temple Enryakuji at Mount Hieizan.

Late in the Edo Period, in the province of Bitchū (Okayama Prefecture), Konkō Daijin (Akazawa Bunji) founded a new religion called Konkōkyō which was based in the Konjin cult. However, he stated that Konjin was not an evil kami but a deity who could bestow virtue. The Oomoto-kyo of Nao Deguchi was influenced by Konkōkyō to proclaim that "Ushitora no Konjin" was the kami who would restore the world.

References[edit]

  • George M. Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers in Japan: Motives in the Meiji Restoration, University of Chicago Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-226-90092-6
  • Ichiro Hori, Folk Religion in Japan: Continuity and Change, University of Chicago Press, 1974, ISBN 978-0-226-35334-0
  • Joseph Needham, Ho Ping-Yu, Lu Gwei-Djen, and Nathan Sivin, Science and Civilization in China: Part 4, Cambridge University Press, 1980, ISBN 978-0-521-08573-1