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An ujigami (氏神) is a guardian god or spirit of a particular place in the Shinto religion of Japan.


The ujigami was prayed to for a number of reasons, including protection from sickness, success in endeavors, and good harvests. [1]


Ujigami Shrine in Uji Ujigami shrine.jpg
Ujigami Shrine in Uji

The ujigami is thought to have been believed in only since the eighth century. [2]

In its current form, the term ujigami is used to describe several other types of Shinto deities. Originally, the term ujigami referred to a family god. [3] It is believed that, at first, these deities were worshiped at temporary altars. [3] After the Heian period, the Japanese manorial system was established and nobles, warriors and temples had their own private land, the family-based society fell out of use, and belief in ujigami diminished. In turn, the lords of the manors began to pray to the deities to protect their land. These guardian deities were referred to as chinju (鎮守). In the Muromachi period the manorial system declined, and so the guardian deities were enshrined along with the ujigami. An ubusunagami (産土神) is a god of the land of one's birth. Over time, the ubusunagami and chinju came to be seen as the heart of the community, and were eventually referred to as ujigami. [4]

The term ujiko (氏子) is used to describe a person who worships an ujigami. [3]

See also

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  1. Hearn, Lafcadio (1913). Japan, an attempt at interpretation. Macmillan.
  2. Kamstra, J. H. (1967). Encounter or syncretism. The initial growth of Japanese Buddhism.
  3. 1 2 3 Hall, John Whitney (1991). The Cambridge History of Japan: Early modern Japan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-22355-5.
  4. Teeuwen, Mark; Breen, John; Inoue, Nobutaka; Itō, Satoshi (2003). Shinto, a short history. Psychology Press. ISBN   0-415-31179-9.

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