Suijin

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Suijin (水神 water god?) is the Shinto god of water in Japan. The term Suijin (literally water people or water deity) refers to the heavenly and earthly manifestations of the benevolent Shinto divinity of water. But it also refers to a wide variety of mythological and magical creatures found in lakes, ponds, springs and wells, including serpents (snakes and dragons), eels, fish, turtles, and the flesh-eating kappa. As The God of Water, Mizu no Kamisama, Mizugami, or Suijin, he is widely revered in Japan.

Also called:

  • The Water God
  • Sui-ten/Suiten 水天
  • Sui-ō/Suiu 水王
  • Varuna in the Hindu pantheon

Suijin is sometimes conflated with Ryūjin, the dragon kami who is also associated with water. Fudō Myōō is also sometimes termed Suijin because of his association with the waterfall. In most cases, however, Suijin appears simply as a stone plaque, or even a simple small stone set upright near a spring’s emergence.[1]

The Water Kami is the guardian of the fishing folk, and a patron saint of fertility, motherhood, and easy childbirth. One reason people worship and praise the Water Kami and give offerings to it is to hope for pure and unpolluted water for human consumption, as well as for other uses like agriculture and sanitation. Other reasons of worship include praying for success in fishing trips, praying for successful and good fertility and motherhood, as well as for easy childbirth.[2]

Shrines devoted to the worship of the Water Kami are called Suitengū Shrines. One example is the Suitengū Shrine in Kurume (Fukuoka), which is the main shrine of all Suitengū Shrines in Japan. It is especially famous to those praying for safe and easy childbirth. Another famous Suitengū Shrine is the Tsukiji Suijin Shrine, located in the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, in order to protect and watch over the fishers and their businesses.[3]

Throughout Japan this deity is widely worshipped at Suitengū Shrines and through the means of votive stone markers devoted to the Water Kami throughout the countryside. Most of these stone markers can be found enshrined at dikes of agricultural irrigation canals, along rice paddy fields, at mountain springs, normal springs, streams, rivers, wells, household wells, and even inside sewage water and septic tanks. When a Suijin stone marker is enshrined at mountain springs, that form sources for agricultural waterways, it is often labeled as Water distributing kami (mikumari no kami 水分神), in which cases they may also be associated with the kami of the mountain (Yama no Kami 山の神). [4]

There is a vast amount of festivals that are dedicated to the Water Kami, most of them being concentrated in summer and winter, though emphasis is particularly placed on observances in summer. The core of the summer festival is found at the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto and at the Tsushima Shrine in Tsushima (Aichi Prefecture). The observances have the significant role of exorcism of bad spirits and purification, especially aimed at dangerous epidemic diseases and water-related disasters which commonly happen during the summer. An example list of some of the festivals based on worshipping Suijin (this list does not include all festivals):[5] [6]

  • Suijin Matsuri, December 1 and June 15

On these days in Japan, various locations hold the Suijin Matsuri, a Shinto celebration and ceremony to honor the Kami of Water.

  • Kamakura Matsuri, Akita Prefecture

Around February 15–17 each year. Igloos (called "kamakura") are built with a small alcove inside dedicated to Suijin, who is honored during this festival to ensure good crops in the coming year. This festival has a history of over 400 years.

  • Suijin-sai, April 3, Funabashi Fishing Harbor (Chiba)

A festival to pray for a good fishing haul and safety at sea. All fishing boats from the area gather in the harbor with their flags streaming in the wind, and a "Kagura" ritual (sacred Shinto music and dance), dedicated to the god of the sea, is performed on board the vessels. An important ritual since the Edo Period, the festival is called Funa-sai for short.

  • Suitengu Spring Festival, Kurume City (Fukuoka), May 3–5

This annual festival, held at the Suiten-gu Shrine in Kurume City, is reportedly over 800 years old. Participants pray for safe and easy child birth, for protection from drowning, and to ask for the safety and health of children. This festival is also held at other Suiten-gu sites in Japan on May 5. Another major festival in Kurume City is the Water Festival, which takes place from August 3 to 5.

  • Okinohata Suitengu Festival, Yanagawa (Fukuoka), May 3–5

Held on the canal by the shrine for three days and nights, with about 30,000 visitors. Many pray for their children to be protected from drowning.

  • Gion Festival, Around July 25, Near Tsukuba (Ibaraki)

Anniversary feast of Suijin-gu Shrine of Tsuchiura City (Ibaraki). Water is splashed over the portable shrine. [7] [8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ashkenazi, Michael (2003). Handbook of Japanese Mythology. In Handbooks of World Mythology.Santa Barbara, Calif : ABC-CLIO. p. 255. ISBN 9781576074671. 
  2. ^ Schumacher, Mark. "Suijin". www.onmarkproductions.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  3. ^ Schumacher, Mark. "Suijin". www.onmarkproductions.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  4. ^ Schumacher, Mark. "Suijin". www.onmarkproductions.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  5. ^ Schumacher, Mark. "Suijin". www.onmarkproductions.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  6. ^ Higashi. "Suijin". Kokugakuin University. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  7. ^ Schumacher, Mark. "Suijin". www.onmarkproductions.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  8. ^ Higashi. "Suijin". Kokugakuin University. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 

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