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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Hachiman

A scroll depicting kami Hachiman dressed as a ...
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Hachiman: another in my occasional, and probably self-indulgent, series designed to show the religious that there's more than one god worshipped in this inexplicable world of ours. All these deities exist in the minds of those who hold them holy, but none of them is real or any more special than the others.

Hachiman is the Japanese god of archery and war, combining elements of both Shinto and Buddhism. He's defined as the god of warriors, safeguarding and protecting them. Also divine protector of Japan and the Japanese, his name means God of Eight Banners; a reference to the eight heavenly banners signalling the birth of the divine Emperor Ojin. The dove is his symbolic animal and messenger.
Hachiman has long been worshiped by peasants, as the god of agriculture, and by fishermen hoping he'd fill their nets with fish. In the Shinto religion, legend identifies him as the Emperor Ojin, the son of Empress Consort Jingu, C3-4 AD.

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