Once commonly called Mimeguri Inari, the Mimeguri Jinja is an ancient shrine located in the east of the Sumida Ward. The precise time of its establishment is unknown, but the shrine record tells such a legend; during the Bunna era, about six hundred years ago, a priest called Genkei, who belonged to Miidera (Onjoji) in Omi-no-kuni (Shiga), stopped by at a place called Ushijima (on the riverside of the Sumidagawa) on a pilgrimage around the eastern countries of Japan. He found a small ruined shrine there and by asking a farmer its origin, he was told this ancient shrine was founded by Kobo Daishi (Kukai). He felt so sad that he decided to reconstruct it himself, when he dug up the ground, he found a pot containing a statue of a god riding a white fox.

 

Then, a white fox suddenly appeared from nowhere, went around the statue three times, and disappeared to nowhere.

Named after this mysterious legend, they started to call the shrine Mimeguri (Going around three times).

 

Among a number of stone monuments standing in the precinct, the most famous one must be Takarai Kikaku's rainmaking poetry monument. It says "As the great god goes around and watches the plowed grounds and rice fields, he will at least make an evening shower fall instead of the people praying for rain." In 1693, as a severe drought had been lasting since the spring of the year, the local farmers gathered in front of the shrine, but what they could do was just to play the gongs and drums wishing for rain. Then, the famous poet Kikaku appeared there on the way to the shrine and offered the poem "As the great god...". From the next day, it started to be raining and the suffering farmers were finally saved.

 

The two gods Daikoku and Ebisu are enshrined in a subordinate shrine (hokora) of Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto (commonly called Tsukuyomi-san) located in the precinct. The hokora had been made of the wood taken from the former main building, which was later reconstructed in 1855. The two statues of Daikoku and Ebisu were originally worshiped in the kimono shop Echigoya, which is now called Mitsukoshi.

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As you can judge from the appearance, Ebisu-shin, who is depicted with a red snapper and a fishing rod, was originally the guardian god of fishermen. He has been deeply worshiped as a god considered to be coming beyond the seas and giving a big catch.

From the Muromachi period, when the commerce was developing much in Japan, Ebisu began to be thought as the protector of markets and worshiped as the god of business success. Commonly called "Ebisu & Daikoku", those two gods were often worshiped as a pair of gods by merchants and so on, and there are also a lot of believes and customs showing their close relationship. Therefore, when Ebisu became one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, Daikoku-shin was also worshiped as another god with similar divine attributes.

 

Daikoku-shin (Great Land God) is also called Daikokuten (Great Black God).

Daikoku-shin is a Japanese ancient god and often equated with Okuninushi-no-mikoto, a god in the Japanese mythology. Actually, Daikokuten was originally another god: an Indian god worshiped as guardian of Buddhism. When Buddhism was introduced to Japan through China, however, the characteristics as "the kitchen god" were added to him. In fact, these two gods' kanji characters "dai koku (great land)" and "dai koku (great black)" are written differently but pronounced in the same way, and additionally they have got similar divine characteristics, so Daikoku-shin and Daikokuten have probably been mixed up and believed to be one merciful god giving prosperity. Wearing a hat, holding a wooden hammer, carrying a huge bag on his back, standing on straw rice-bags, his unique appearance shows his divine virtues very well.

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