SUKUNAHIKO : THE SMALL MAN OF RENOWN; SHORT MAN SPIRIT
One of the most powerful Japanese deities is about the size of Tom Thumb. Sukunahiko is the tiny kami who helped Okuninushi build Japan and create protections for people against illness and danger. Sukunahiko is a culture hero: he taught the arts of growing rice and brewing sake. He is the divine brewer. Those who manufacture or sell sake may consider themselves under his dominion. Sukunahiko created sewing and medicine. Beyond botanical herbalism, Sukunahiko invented the concept of manufacturing medications.
When Sukunahiko was ill, he was cured by treatment in healing hot springs. Now Sukunahiko rules onsen, Japan’s many natural hot springs. (Japan is dotted with over one thousand of these natural thermal baths.) Sukunahiko is a healing deity but he also specifically has dominion over recuperation and recovery from illness.
Although originally a general healer, Sukunahiko has emerged as the gynecologist god. His specialties include:
• Fertility and conception
• Healing infertility
• Healing and preventing sexually transmitted diseases
• Healing illnesses of the reproductive region, including endometriosis
• Easy, uncomplicated childbirth
• Healthy babies
His medical specialty is reflected in the unique offerings made to him. Women first began offering him their underwear during the Edo period (1603–1867) as part of their petition process. Women’s panties are attached to traditional wooden offering boards (ema boards) at his shrine in Awashima. The shrine also displays a huge collection of dolls, phallic symbols, and amuletic statues.
Sukunahiko is credited with saving Empress Jingu from shipwreck. He was enshrined on the island on which she landed. In gratitude, she enlarged his shrine. The two are now frequently venerated together.
ALSO KNOWN AS:
Sukunahikona; Sukunahikona no Kami; Sukunahikona-no-mikota
Sukunahiko is so small, he slipped between his mother’s fingers. His clothes are made from the feathers of a wren.
A boat made from a flowering vine pod, possibly either a type of Ipomoea (morning glory, sweet potato) or Metaplexis japonica, a type of twining milkweed
Sukunahiko is frequently venerated alongside Empress Jingu; Okuninushi is his partner in creation.
Underwear, Hina and other dolls, sewing needles, fine sake, incense, pilgrimage to his shrines
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.