I’m always nervous when I need to write about an unknown divinity and especially when it comes from a culture where I have to rely upon transliterated information. Kojin is the next deity from the atheist’s graveyard. I find him interesting in that he is a male divinity of the hearth.


Kojin is a divinity honored in both Shinto and Buddhism though he is possibly older than both belief systems.  He is the God of the Hearth and Kitchen Fire, Protector of Land, Cattle and Horses, and Defender of the Three Buddhist Treasures.  There are many different spellings of his name.  The most common seem to be Kojin, Sanbo Kojin, Kamado-no-Kami and Kojinsama.  He is considered to be the heart of the home

Kojin is a god who protects against disaster and brings good fortune, both good things to have in a kitchen when an open fire is used and to prevent cooking disasters and food waste.  However he appears to have a strict cleanliness requirement which also makes very good sense in a kitchen.  One source describes him as the harnessing of a disastrous element for the good of mankind.  Another source describes him as the god who purifies the impure just as fire can burn away impurities.

In iconography, Kojin has three forms.  The most common form is an angry figure with eight heads and arms.  This is the defender of the Three Jewels or Treasures of Buddhism (the Buddha, Buddhist law and the Buddhist community).  The second version resembles Kongosatta, the deity of purification, with his hands in the six-element mudra (earth, air, fire, water, space/void and spirit) that is associated with Dainichi Nyorai, the Cosmic Buddha.  The third form has four arms, dressed in Japanese court costume and holds a jewel and an ancient Indian wheel symbol for royalty. 

Kojin is associated with the cooking stove and in some districts the post nearest to this range was believed to embody him.  It was called the Kojin Post.  On the last day of each month, a vase containing a pine branch was placed shelf of this post presumably as an offering.  Another place where his shrine is found is on the lintel above the cookstove.   In other districts, the large cooking range used for special occasions was called Kojin’s Cooking Range. 

With this lettering, I honor Kojin as a divinity that has no place in a graveyard.  May he be remembered with honor.

Helpful Links: 




www.kikkoman.com/foodforum/the japanesetable/19.shtml


Picture:  "Traditionelle japanische Haushaltsgegenstände III" by TANAKA Juuyoh Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Traditionelle_japanische_Haushaltsgegenst%C3%A4nde_III.jpg#/media/File:Traditionelle_japanische_Haushaltsgegenst%C3%A4nde_III.jpg