Kanayago-kami (金屋子神)

Kanayago-kami god (also pronounced as Kanayako-kami god, etc.) was a god which is believed by blacksmiths to live mainly in Chugoku Region (Shintoism). Though it is generally said that Kanayago-kami was a female god, there is also a theory that the god was mail. It is said that Kanayago-kami was the same as or was somewhat related to the Kanayamahiko-kami, or Kanayamahime-kami and Amameichika-kami, however, there is a theory that they are completely different gods.

Kanayago-jinja Shrine which is located in Nishihida, Hirose-cho, Yasuki City, Shimane Prefecture and which is considered to be the main shrine for Kanayago-kami, has the following legend. Kanayago-kami first descended from Takamagahara (the place where gods live) to Iwanabe in Shiso County in Harima Province (currently, Iwanoryo, Chigusa-cho, Shishiawa City, Hyogo Prefecture) in response to a rain-inviting ritual carried out by the villagers. However, because the god himself was originally related to the western region, the god arrived at a forest in a mountain in Kuroda-Okuhida in Nogi County in Izumo Province (currently, the site of Kanayago-jinja Shrine) in the western region and was resting the wings of a snowy heron after flying on it, and Abe no Masashige who was the ancestor of the current chief priest of the shrine found them, and a rich person of Asahi, Hyobu OSADA constructed a shrine there beside a katsura tree (there is also a legend that the god also visited Nakayama in Kibi Province on his way there). It is said that Kanayago-kami voluntary become Murage (a chief engineer in metal forging) in various places and taught the art of metal forging there.

Kanayago-kami had the following features.

It is said that the god hated hemp because the god or his Murage subordinate stumbled over a piece of hemp and died. It is also said that the god hated dogs and ivy because he was run after by a dog and tried to escape from the dog by climbing ivy, and the ivy snapped and the god fell and was bitten to death. The god seemed to like Mandarin orange and Japanese wisteria because, when the god run after by a dog, the god climbed a Mandarin orange tree or grabbed Japanese wisteria and was saved. Katsura tree is a holy tree.

It is said that the god was far from being indifferent and rather liked the chance to die, therefore, the god instructed his Murage subordinates to hang down dead human bodies from the posts around the cupola furnace. It is also said that, when the subordinates hung the dead human bodies, much iron started to be collected.

The god hated women. It is said that this was due to the jealousy that resulted from the god being female, and it is said that there was a rule that prohibited women from entering workplaces concerned with metal forging. It is also said that the Murage in those days, like Shinobu ORIKUCHI, did not use the same hot water to take a bath as women after the women had taken a bath.

The above was also described in detail in "Tetsuzan Hisho" (Tetsuzan's Secret Book) written by Shigenaka SHIMOHARA who was a resident in Miyaichi, Hino County, Hakuki Province.

There is a theory that interprets the features of Kanayago-kami based on inyo-gogyo-setsu (negative-positive-five-line theory), the features are because katsura tree (the Chinese character for katsura includes two Chinese characters meaning soil as its parts) and dead human bodies are soil-natured and the soil nature generates the gold nature therefore improving the yield of mines and metal forging.

The Iwami-ginzan silver mine is located about 40 km west of Kanayago-jinja Shrine and Sahimeyama-jinja Shrine (Ota City), and it is said that the name "sahime" is another name for Kanayago-kami. It is believed that the words "sa" and "sahi" meant iron.

Mt. Sanpei which was deeply related to nigihayahi and Mononobe clan was called Mt. Sahiuri in ancient times. 5 km in the west from Mt. Sanpei in Ichi no miya in Iwami Province, there is Mononobe-jinja Shrine (in Ota City) which are said to be both sides of a coin for Ishigami-jingu Shrine.

Words such as "when you ask where Kanayago-kami was born, the god originally born in Abe-ga-mori in Katsuragi" still remain in a tatara song (which was sung when the bellows were used for metal forging) handed down in Nishi-Awakura-cho, Hideta-gun, Okayama Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]