Inari is the name of the Japanese Shinto (native religion of Japan) god who watches over and protects the rice harvest. As rice has long been the staple food of the Japanese, this god is obviously very important, and shrines to Inari are reported to number more than 20,000 in Japan. Inari’s messenger is the magical, shape-shifting fox or kitsune as it is called in Japanese. Images of foxes are commonly seen flanking Inari in paintings of this god, as well as guarding the entrance to Inari shrines. Inari messenger foxes are said to possess the ability to hear and see all human activities as well as to transform into human form (usually a bewitching woman). Inari fox messengers are said to grow in power as they age and will only gain a tail (a symbol of power) after reaching the ripe old age of 100. Fox messengers are most powerful after they have lived for 1000 years at which point they may have a total of nine tails, grey or white fur and will have attained the power of infinite vision. Fox lore is common in Asia, though it is normally thought to have originated in India. Some Asian cultures view the fox as a strictly malevolent creature, though it Japan it is just as often portrayed as a powerful, yet kind creature with a genuine interest in the welfare of humans.
About the Listed Item
Vintage Japanese Shinto Inari fox (kitsune) statues. These porcelain figures are in good condition though each figure does have some small marks and scratches from handling. The figures are also a bit dirty and wear a darkened patina suggestive of age and past display. This statue set dates from the mid to late Japanese Showa period (1926-1989) and was acquired in the historic city of Shizuoka, Japan near the foot of Mt. Fuji.
Height of each statue: 5.7 inches (14.5 centimeters)
Combined Weight: 9.2 ounces (262 grams)
Note about buying Japanese Shinto antiques
Many Shinto items such as ofuda, omamori, hamaya and shimenawa are thought to have limited powers which diminish over time. Japanese people therefore commonly dispose of such items each year in special burning ceremonies called dondoyaki, which are presided over by Shinto priests and performed on the grounds of the shrine. However, many Shinto items are not burned and may find new life as cherished religious items, sometimes with foreigners practicing Shinto outside Japan. Many of the Japanese we have discussed this with (including a Shinto priest) have been pleased to learn that old items of their native faith are often well received by Shinto believers abroad. However, we are sensitive to the fact that some may prefer to see their old Shinto items burned and for this reason we do offer a free disposal service. Anyone who wishes to have their Shinto items properly destroyed in a dondoyaki ceremony may send the items to us which we will hold and take to our local Shinto shrine for sanctioned disposal. Please contact us in advance if you wish to use this complementary service and we will provide you with the appropriate mailing address.
item code: R1S4-0004448
ship code: G3