Tano Kami

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Tano Kami (田の神) is a kami who is believed to observe the harvest of rice plants or to bring a good harvest, by Japanese farmers. Ta in Japanese means "rice fields". Tano Kami is also called Noushin (kami of agriculture) or kami of peasants. Tano Kami shares the kami of corn, the kami of water and the kami of defense, especially the kami of agriculture associated with mountain faith and veneration of the dead (faith in the sorei). Tano Kami in Kagoshima Prefecture and parts of Miyazaki Prefecture is unique; farmers pray before Tano Kami stone statues in their communities.

Agricultural kami[edit]

In Japan, there are agricultural deities or kamis. In the Japanese documents, Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, there were kami of rice plants, Ukano Mitama, Toyouke Bimeno Kami, and kami of corns, Ootoshino Kami. (Of them, Toyouke Bimeno Kami was written also in Engishiki, and is considered to be a female kami. Generally speaking, in the Tohoku area of Japan, agriculture-related kami is Nougami (agriculture kami), in the Koshin area, it is Saku Gami, in the Kinki area, it is Tsukuri Gami, in the Tajima and Inaba areas, it is kami of 亥(i),(On the day of i, the fields are struck; which is considered to give peace on the harvest ground). In the Chugoku and Shikoku areas, it is Sanbai Sama, in Setonaikai, it is the local kami. In Eastern Japan it is associated with the Ebisu faith, and in Western Japan it is associated with the Daikoku faith.

Festivals or ceremonies[edit]

Rice transplantation festival at Katori Shrine

According to their agricultural calendars, farmers[who?] observe kami ceremonies related to Tano Kami in the spring and autumn. These include the ceremony of the beginning of a year, beginning of farming in early spring, the start of rice plant farming, rice plant transplantation (accepting kami at the start of transplantation, called Saori) (sending kami at the end is called Sanaburi) and harvest time. They also pray for the elimination of disasters or harmful insects. Finally, they conduct the ceremony of thanking kami for a good harvest, The real ceremonies and their names differ from place to place, although dancing, eating a special dish or rice cakes, or visits to the community kami, and burning ceremonies are some of them. Scarecrows are variations of Tano Kami, since they are expected to prevent bad spirits of animals and birds. Niinamesai is one of the festivals of the Japanese Imperial family, the eating of freshly harvested rice with kami, a variation of the festivals of Tano Kami. Previously it had been a national holiday.

Scarecrows in a rice paddy

Fox and Inari Shrine[edit]

The fox was considered to be the messenger of Tano Kami

In many parts of Japan, there are Kitsune tsuka (small fox shrine); the fox was considered to be a messenger of Tano Kami. Inari Shrines originated from Kitsune tsuka, and faith in Inari Shrines spread throughout Japan.

Tano Kami of Kagoshima and Miyazaki Prefectures[edit]

In almost all areas of Japan, the real picture of Tano Kami remains unclear, with the single exception of Tanokansas in Kagoshima Prefecture and parts of Miyazaki Prefecture. Tanokansaa is the dialect of Tano Kami in these prefectures. In their communities, peasants place Tanokansaa stone statues, either of the buddha type and shinto priest type (with or without a mace), or of the peasant type( with or without a pestle). It was started in the 18th century in the Satsuma han. In Miyazaki Prefecture, Tano Kami is seen only in areas governed by Satsuma han. After the meiji era, this custom spread in accordance with the movements of its inhabitants.


Saotome (早乙女), or rice planting women, played a religious role in ancient times, rice growing was considered a religious act, and there were many taboos that had to be observed.[1] The inadama was the spirit of the rice plant. Since World War 2 rice planting has become mechanized. 

Popular Culture[edit]

In the popular anime series, Saotome Ranma is the central character in Ranma 1/2.

See also[edit]



  • Ono Illustrated Forelore Encyclopedia, 100 figures of Tano Kami 1970 yamakawa publishing company
  • Mikio Aoyama Tano Kamis in Miyazaki Prefecture 1979, Kohmyaku Sousho, Miyazaki.
  • Yukawa Y,(1999) What is Yamano Kami and Tano Kami in Encyclopedia of Forelore Nihon Jitsugyou Shuppansha, p90-91, ISBN 4-534-02985-3
  • Inoguchi S.(1959) Nihon Minzokugaku Taikei 7, Seikatsu to Minzoku (2) Heibonsha.
  • Iketsuchi H.(1959) Spirits and Kami, how they appear in agriculture Nihon Minzokugaku Taikei, 8, Shikou to Minzoku Heibonsha.
  • Yanagida K. (1951) Minzokugaku Jiten Tokyodo.ISBN 4-490-10001-9
  • Ono S. (1987) Tano Kami Demonstration Illustrated Various types of Tano Kami Kagoshima Prefecture Reimeikan.

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