Koujin 荒神
KEY WORD : architecture / folk dwellings
1 Also called Koujinsama 荒神様; Koujinsan 荒神さん.

2 A god that protects against disaster and brings good fortune. He is a god of the hearth fire, a land god, and a protector of cattle and horses. He appears both in painting and sculpture in three forms: Sanbou Koujin 三宝荒神, the most common form of Koujin, an angry figure with eight heads and either six or eight arms; Nyorai Koujin 如来荒神 who resembles Kongousatta 金剛薩た (Sk: Vajrasatta); and Kojima Koujin 子島荒神 who appears dressed in Japanese court costume, sokutai 束帯 wears a court hat, kanmuri 冠 and holds a jewel and a cakra. The cakra, rinpou 輪宝 is an ancient Indian wheel-symbol of royalty. Kojima Koujin appeared in the dream of the 11c priest Shinkou 真興, the founder of Kojimadera 子島寺 in Nara.

3 His origin may predate the introduction of Buddhism to Japan because he appears in one apocryphal sutra but not in any genuine Buddhist texts.

4 Koujin is a very important divinity workshipped by the shugendou 修験道 order, a mountain religion combining Shinto and Buddhism shinbutsu shuugou 神仏習合. Koujin became widely adopted as one of the *kama-no-kami 釜の神 or tutelary deities of the cooking range *kamado 竃. The terms *kamadogami 竃神 and *kamaotoko 釜男 were prevalent in the Touhoku 東北 region, but Koujin or Koujinsama was widely used in other areas. In some districts, such as Shizuoka prefecture, the post nearest to the cooking range in a vernacular residence *minka 民家, was believed to embody the deity and was accordingly known as the Koujin post, koujinbashira 荒神柱. On the last day of each month a vase containing a pine-branch decoration, koujinmatsu 荒神松, was placed on a shelf, koujindana 荒神棚, erected on a pillar near the stove. In some districts, such as Saga prefecture, a large cooking range mainly used for special occasions was called Kojin's cooking, koujinsan-no-kamado 荒神さんの竃 or koujinsan hettsui 荒神さん竃.


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