Akiba-Sanjakubo – Lord of Fire

Sanjakubo was born when his mother petitioned Kannon for fertility. He may be an avatar of Kannon. As a tiny boy he Demonstrated powerful spiritual gifts and inclinations. He was a priest by the time he was six or seven, becoming a yamabushi (a shamanic mountain priest), studying esotericism, mysticism, and the secrets of fire.

One day, after meditating for a week, he had a vision: a flame rose from incense smoke. Within that flame, Sanjakubo saw what he first thought was Fudo, Lord of Wisdom, but it was in fact, he realized, a Tengu in similar guise. This Tengu held Fudo’s attributes but was mounted on a white fox, thus combining elements of Buddhism and Shinto. As Sanjakubo gazed at the vision, he realized that what he was seeing was his own reflection. Summoning the white fox, he flew to Mount Akiba, where he took up residence in a temple dedicated to Kannon, developing his own spiritual tradition, which spread, became very popular, and was eventually called by the name of the mountain from which his teachings emanated: Akiba.

Sanjakubo evolved into Akiba-Sanjakubo, Lord of Mount Akiba, Spirit of Fire Prevention. He is invoked to prevent fires, weaken already existing fires, and minimize the heartache and damage they cause. He is also invoked for traffic safety and longevity and petitioned against poverty and general disaster.

During Japan’s Warring Era, Akiba-Sanjakubo was also venerated as a spirit of military victory. Samurai offered their swords to his shrines in petition and gratitude.


Akiha-Sanjakubo; Akiba Sanshaku




A beaked, winged Tengu haloed in fire; snakes entwine his body


Sword of wisdom and the cord of rescue


White fox

Sacred day:

23 December (the anniversary of his death)


23, 24; offerings are traditionally given on the 23rd day of each month


Akiba-Sanjakubo has shrines throughout Japan. He himself established the shrine in Akiba-koen Park in Tochio, Nigata Prefecture, where an annual festival honoring the anniversary of his death sometimes including fire-walking rituals.



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