Cikap Kamuy is depicted as a great owl. The Ainu believed that the owl watched over the local kotan (domain), so Cikap Kamuy came to be represented as the master of the domain. In some areas, his tears were said to be gold and silver.
Cikap Kamuy's most important myth establishes him as a god of plenty who ensures that rituals are being enacted properly. As the story goes, famine had struck the land, and humankind was starving. Cikap Kamuy wished to send a message to heaven inquiring about the cause of the famine, and he asked Crow to be his messenger. His message and instructions were very lengthy, however, and it took him days to recite them. On the third day, Crow fell asleep, and Cikap Kamuy grew angry and killed him. Cikap Kamuy next asked Mountain Jay to be his messenger, but on the fourth day, Mountain Jay fell asleep and was killed in turn. The third messenger was the Dipper Bird, who listened respectfully for six full days until Cikap Kamuy finally completed the recitation of the message. Dipper Bird then flew to the heavens, and returned with news that the kamuy of fish and game were angry because humans had stopped showing proper respect for the gifts they gave. Accordingly, Cikap Kamuy went to the humans and taught them the proper rituals to be enacted after killing a fish or a deer. Once the humans began performing these rituals, the kamuy were appeased, and the famine ceased.
The Ainu considered the hondo crow and the mountain jay birds of ill omen as a result of this myth. The dipper, in contrast, was a sign of good fortune.
- Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. 211-212
- Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003.
- Etter, Carl. Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborigines of Japan. Chicago: Wilcox and Follett, 1949.
- Munro, Neil Gordon. Ainu Creed and Cult. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.