God of the Year (toshi toku jin)

. Legends about Toshitokujin .

Deity of the Year (toshi toku jin, toshitokujin)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Observance


According to ancient Asian lore, the new year comes with a new deity, the
"Deity of the Year" toshitokujin 歳德神.
Said to be female.
Since she likes her place to be clean and tidy, people have to clean their homes too to welcome her.
. cleaning at the end of the year
kure no sooji, kure no oo sooji くれのそおじ .

susuharai 煤払 cleaning the soot

He is welcomed to stay in the
. kadomatsu 門松 pines (decorations) at the gate .
until the 7th day of the New Year.
This time is called "matsu no uchi", inside the home with the pine decorations.
The New Year decorations must be set up a few day before the last day of the year.
Otherwise they will be
ichiya kazari 一夜飾り one-night decorations, an unlucky omen.
And they are taken down on the seventh day.

This is part of the Yin-Yang Theory of China, called "onmyoodoo 陰陽道" in Japanese.

He is celebrated in a part of the estate which shows to the auspicious direction of this year (ehoo 恵方). People erect a small shelf with sacred decorations for the purpose and pray for a boutifull harvest and good luck as farmers.

In some parts of Japan, a special pine pole is erected in this direction,
auspicious pine pole, ogamimatsu 拝み松.


More kigo in this context

God of the year, toshigami 年神(としがみ)
toshitoku 年德(としとく)
toshitoku san 年德さん(としとくさん)
..... wakadoshi san 若年さん(わかどしさん)
"Mr. New Year" shoogatsu san 正月さん(しょうがつさん)

toshi jisan 年爺さん(としじいさん) "grandfather of the year"
o toshi sama お年さま(おとしさま)

shelf for the new year, toshidana 年棚(としだな)
..... toshi toku dana 歳德棚(としとくだな)
"shelf in the auspicious direction", ehoodana 恵方棚(えほうだな)
"shelf for a boutiful year", hoonen dana 豊年棚(ほうねんだな)
"straw bag for the year", toshidawara 年俵(としだわら)

tobu kufuu neko no shite keri ehoodana

the cat gets ready
to jump on it -
shelf in the auspicious direction

Tr. Gabi Greve

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .


A special shrine for the New Year
- 正月寺歳徳神社

Toshitoku Jinja, Fukushima, Iwaki Town

This shrine was built more than 1500 years ago.

It will be especially visited in January 2012, after the great earthquake and the destruction done in Fukushima and Iwaki town.

Shrine for the New Year

Toshitokujin Deity

Other festivals :
nanatsu mairi 「七つ詣(まい)り」
for children of the age of 7
Juusan mairi 「十三詣り」for children at the age of 13

Check here for more photos:
source : www.toshitokujinja.jp

If I remember well, the access road to the shrine had been damaged and is now in repair to make it accessible till the New Year visit for 2012.

. Japan after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011 .

There are other temples of the same name 歳徳神社 in other parts of Japan.

米子市東福原8-10 Yonago, Tottori
兵庫県姫路市, Himeji, Hyogo


Toshigami, Toshitokujin
A kami that visits during the New Year's season, heralding the advent of the New Year, also called Shōgatsu-sama (lit., "Honorable New Year").

The name Toshitokujin has origins in Chinese Yin-Yang divination (Jp. Onmyōdō), and refers to a goddess with dominion over auspicious directions (ehō) for the current year. The Toshitokujin cult thus involves a core of ancient beliefs in the appearance of a kami at the first of the year and who assures an abundant harvest, to which has been added additional elements of Chinese divination cults.

Observances to the kami of the new year are ordinarily held by individual families, who prepare a special altar apart from their ordinary kamidana, called variously toshigamidana, toshitokudana, or ehōdana; such altars may be decorated with shimenawa and mirror-shaped rice cakes (kagami mochi), rice, dedicatory sake (mike) and salt.

Derived from the cult of Onmyōdō, the names toshitokudana and ehōdana indicate that each year's auspicious direction (ehō) is under the influence of the Toshitokujin. In some areas, a pillar called ogamimatsu ("supplication pine"), or pine branches may be erected beside the hearth as a vehicle or medium (yorishiro) for the kami's presence.

Both the conventional toshigami and the toshitokujin of Onmyōdō are alike in appearing during the New Year's season, but based on correspondences with the "spirit altar" (shōryōdana) of the summer Obon rites, and other similarities between ceremonies of New Year's and Obon, it is believed that the the toshigami represents a relatively earlier form of cult than that of the toshitokujin.
source : Iwai Hiroshi, 2005, KokuGakuIn


© PHOTO Wikipedia

Visit in the auspicious direction, ehoo mairi
..... 恵方詣 えほうまいり
, ゑはうまゐり
Visit to a temple or shrine in the lucky direction of the year

auspiciuos direction, ehoo, ehô 恵方(えほう)、ehoo michi 恵方道(えほうみち)、ehoo 吉方(えほう)、兄方(えほう)、得方(えほう)、 元方(えほう)、
aki no kata (aki no hoo, aki no hô) 明の方, 明きの方(あきのかた)

praying in the auspicious direction, ehoo ogami 恵方拝(えほうおがみ)

.. .. ..

- - - - - Kobayashi Issa - - - - -

oku Saga ya ehoo ni ideshi tsue no ana

deep in Saga--
my New Year's walk
follows holes made by canes

ôhara ya ehô ni ideshi tsue no ana

big field--
my New Year's walk
follows holes made by canes

大雪や出入りの穴も 明きの方
ooyuki ya deiri no ana mo aki no kata

a big snow--
the exit tunnel
is my lucky direction

Tr. David Lanoue


geta haite hatake aruku ya ehoo mairi

wearing nice clogs
in a vegetable patch --
this year's lucky direction

Tr. Chris Drake

This warmly humorous hokku is from 1824, when Issa was living in his hometown and hoping to meet the right woman to remarry after the death of his first wife and all their children. On the first day of the lunar new year (Jan. 31 in 1824) it was the custom to make a pilgrimage to the Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple where one's ancestors had worshiped or where they were buried. At the same time, it was also believed that the female god governing good fortune for the new year stayed in a different direction each year, based on the principles of Chinese Yin-Yang divination. In order to gain her favor, people had to walk in the direction in which this god of good luck was staying on the first day of the new year. In the country, however, there were fewer roads, and it was difficult to go to a shrine or temple where you normally worshiped while also walking in the lucky direction, so people often walked first to a location from which they could make their pilgrimage in the right direction. Even so, they often had to improvise new routes.

In the hokku, someone has dressed in nice wooden clogs and his or her best clothes in order to visit a shrine or temple early on New Year's morning. In order to walk in the new year's lucky direction, however, he or she must leave roads and paths behind and head right through a vegetable field (as opposed to a rice paddy), a muddy place you don't usually walk through with nice clogs. A few vegetables may already be planted at this time of year, and there could be a bit of snow on the ground, so walking with clogs is probably difficult and hardly elegant. In any case, it is an odd sight. If the person wearing clogs is Issa, he is probably smiling at the way he must look as he picks his way through the field.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

. Geta, Wooden Sandals, Clogs, 下駄 .


Plaque for Divination of the Auspicious Direction
PHOTO Gabi Greve

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

During the New Year rituals of a household, one of the men in the household

toshiotoko, toshi otoko 年男(としおとこ)"man of the year"

waka otoko 若男(わかおとこ)"young man"
sechi otoko 節男(せちおとこ)"man for the seasonal festival)
yaku otoko 役男(やくおとこ)"man to perform duties"
manriki otoko 万力男(まんりきおとこ)"man with a thousand strength"
iwai taroo 祝太郎(いわいたろう)"Taro for Rituals"

. Toshiotoko 年男 "man of the year" .


ne katte ni ume no saki keri waga ehô

while I slept
the plum tree bloomed!
lucky direction walk

waga io ya magatta nari ni ehô tana

my hut--
it's a crooked path
to the New Year's shelf

ashi no muku mura ga warera ga ehô kana

we follow our feet
to the village...
our New Year's walk

This haiku refers to the New Year's custom of visiting a shrine or temple located in a lucky direction. Ironically, Issa and his cohorts are heading for a village and (I assume) its tavern.

More EHOO haiku by
Tr. David Lanoue


ehoo to wa kono michi o tada susumu kana

auspicious direction -
that means simply following
our own road
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Takahama Kyoshi


oohashi o ehoo e watari mairi keri

crossing the Great Bridge
in the auspicious direction
for the New Year

(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Hasegawa Kanajo

Related words

Ehoosha 恵方社 Eho Shrine, Ehosha Shrine

This is the only shrine in Japan which rotates and changes its direction every year, so the visitors can bow toward the auspicious direction of the New Year.
The priests come to turn the upper stone on a special device to change the direction.

WASHOKU : Ehomaki Sushi Roll (ehoomaki)
kigo for early spring
Eaten on February 3 for Setsubun !

. Ichiyoo raifuku 一陽来福 .
"luck is coming back"

***** . Mi-Toshi no Kami 御年神(みとしのかみ) .
at 大和神社 Oyamato Jinja, Nara

***** . Owari shi Kannon 尾張四観音
The Four Kannon Temples of Owari Nagoya .

***** BACK TO
Festivals and Ceremonies of Japan

. Legends about Toshitokujin .

- #toshitokujin -


Unknown said...

Gabi san thank you so much for EHOU
In Tokai district,I have never heard such things, 恵方。
In Tokyo I didn't hear about Ehou mairi.
Is it popular in Kansai?


Anonymous said...

edge of a field--
my New Year's walk
follows holes made by canes

hata heri ya ehoo ni ideshi tsue no ana


by Issa, 1818

Tr. David Lanoue

Anonymous said...

Some intriguing thoughts after having read this blogsite, Gabi ...

I wake to find
the path has changed ...
new year

old road ...
at every bend a meeting
with myself

new road
first along its path
the new moon

Ella Wagemakers

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

toshi-gami ya mata mo o-sewa
ni nari masuru
New Year's god--
once again I rely
on your help

(tr. David Lanoue)

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

nenbutsu no kuchidome 念仏の口止め no more nenbutsu prayers

Since the deity of the New Year (Toshigamisama 年神様) does not like this prayer, it is now forbidden to utter it until January 16.
calendar days of December

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

waga ehô mairi wa shôgatsu-zakura kana

my New Year's
lucky direction walk...
to cherry blossoms

This haiku refers to the New Year's custom of visiting a shrine or temple located in a lucky direction. It appears in Issa's 1795 travel journal, Saigoku kikô ("Western Provinces Travelogue"). Robin D. Gill (author of Cherry Blossom Epiphany) writes, "Plum blossoms rather than cherry blossoms are normal for the New Year season. Issa was delighted to find he could head in the lucky direction for that year and visit a temple with a specific cherry tree famous for blooming every year on the sixteenth day of the month. That is the day that the moon starts to wane, which gives the blossoms a slightly Buddhist bent, providing a subtle complement for the largely Shinto New Year."
David Lanoue

Gabi Greve said...

. toshitokujin 歳德神 Toshitoku Jin, God of the Year .
Another name for Tanokami 田の神 God of the Rice Fields.
Toshitoku san トシトクさん in Hiroshima

Tanokami is also called inokami, i no kami 亥の神 God of the Boar

inoko, i no ko 亥の子 (いのこ) young wild boar . legends

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Kagoshima 曽於郡 Soo district
During the festival for Yamanokami, the 叉木家 Matagi family goes to the top of the mountain behind their home and the 上野家 Ueno family to the bottom of the mountain (where Tanokami resides) to greet and venerate Toshigami (Yamanokami).
It is a delicate deity and if they do not keep the rituals, family members will suffer accidents.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Nagano
According to ancient Asian lore, the new year comes with a new female deity.
She comes on the evening of day 30 of the 12th lunar month. People prepare the special kamidana 神棚 Shelf of the Gods for her.
When the year is over they tear it down and burn it, then built a new one.

Gabi Greve said...

Legends about Sai no Kami 幸神 / さいの神 Deity of Fortune and Good Luck

Gabi Greve said...

Tenshin chigi 天神地衹 The Kami of the Sky 天の神
During the New Year he comes down from heaven and is venerated as Toshigami 年神 in Fukui 福井県.
Ametsuchi 天地 Tenchi - Heaven and Earth