God of the Hearth (かまど神)

The god of the hearth is enshrined at hearths, irori (traditional Japanese open hearths) and other places where fire is used.

God of the hearth (Kamado-gami) in Japan

Kamado-gami is the god of fire and, at the same time, the guardian god of agriculture, livestock, and family.

Generally, gohei (wooden wands, decorated with two zigzag paper streamers) or talismans are enshrined in a kamidana (a miniature shinto altar) placed near the "kamado" (stove, cooking range) furnace or hearth but the forms of worship vary form from region to region. In the Tohoku area, including Miyagi Prefecture and Iwate Prefecture, he is enshrined in an ugly mask made of wood or clay called a Kamaotoko (cauldron male), Hyottoko (fire male), or Kamajin (cauldron person) and hung on a pillar near the kamado. In the Shinetsu region, two wooden dolls about 30cm long called Kamagami is the "shintai" (object of worship), while a doll-like paper gohei is worshiped in Kagoshima Prefecture. In some regions, he is enshrined in gohei or talismans kept on a pillar or shelf near the kamado; in others, a gotoku (metal stand) or other implements used in an irori is regarded as the shintai.

The statue of Sanpokojin, a Japanese Buddhist deity, is also known for being worshiped as Kamado-gami. Because this is a god who values cleanliness and eliminates impurities, he is considered to be linked to the god of fire. In the Kinki and Chugoku regions, Doku-shin (also pronounced Doko-jin), a god of Onmyodo (the way of Yin and Yang; an occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements), is worshiped as Kamado-gami. It is thought that the god moves from one place to another depending on the season: the kamado in spring, the gate in summer, the well in fall, and the garden in winter. In residences, the area containing the kamado has the image of being darker than zashiki (Japanese style tatami rooms).

Therefore, there is this idea that the kamado forms a boundary between the world of shadows, the underworld, or "reikai" (next world) and the "utsushiyo" (actual world); and that the Kamado-gami is an ambiguous god, who plays a role as a mediator between both worlds and as a regenerator of order. It is also said that Kamado-gami is a very intense god. There is a legend that those who treat this god improperly will receive divine punishment and that climbing on the kamado will make the god angry.

[Original Japanese]