“sri devi a.k.a dewi sri” by ~hanyasatu

“Wakasaname-no-Kami’s themes are providence, harvest, growth, patience and manifestation. Her symbols are rice and fire.  This Goddess’s name describes Her function in Japan – The Young Rice Planting Maiden. It is Wakasaname’s duty to oversee the rice transplanting at this time of year, as She was born of a union between the food Goddess and grain god. From a more spiritual perspective, Wakasaname-no-Kami offers us the providence and fulfillment that comes from a job patiently well attended.

Early in June, Japanese farmers transplant their rice seedlings into the paddies, asking for the blessings of the Goddess as they go. Prayers are made as ritual fires burn to get Wakasaname’s attention, and they probably act as an invocation to the sun. In you home this might mean going outside (if the weather permits) and offering to the Goddess so She can help you fulfill your work-related goals. Makes sure you keep your purpose in mind while the rice burns and speak your wishes into the smoke so it carries them before Wakasaname’s watchful eyes.

To inspire Wakasaname’s patience in your life, make a bowl of rice. Breathe deeply, then try to pick up one grain with chopsticks. This is an old meditative method from the East, and believe me, it teaches much more about the benefits of persistence and practice!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Inari” by Susan Seddon Boulet

For today’s entry, the only information I could find on today’s Goddess, Wakasaname-no-Kami, was the following, “The god of Rice called Inari is usually depicted as a bearded old man, but he can transform himself into Wakasaname-no-Kami [Young Rice-Planting Maiden].  This is the spirit whose alter ego, ally or vehicle is the fox.  And a fox is believed to be able to transform itself into the rice spirit, too. ” [1]  (Hmm, interesting considering our encounter a few evenings ago with Fox…)

“Inari” by Matthew Meyer

Further research proved Inari to be a very complex deity.  “Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food Goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva…Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures. Some scholars suggest that Inari is the figure known in classical Japanese mythology as Ukanomitama or the Kojiki‘s Ōgetsu-Hime; others suggest Inari is the same figure as Toyouke. Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami.

Inari’s female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakiniten, a Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods.


Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities (Inari sanza); since the Kamakura period, this number has sometimes increased to five kami (Inari goza). However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inari, the oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrine, these kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigi, and Wakumusubi, in addition to the food deities previously mentioned. The five kami today identified with Inari at Fushimi Inari are Ukanomitama, Sarutahiko, Omiyanome, Tanaka, and Shi. However, at Takekoma Inari, the second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi.  According to the Nijūni shaki, the three kami are Ōmiyame no mikoto (water,) Ukanomitama no mikoto (grain,) and Sarutahiko no mikami (land.)” [2]

As I then turned my focus onto Inari, I came across this tale and found a rather interesting comparison to Corn Mother which I’ll explain later.  “Uke Mochi, the Japanese Goddess of food, was married to Inari, the god of rice.  One day the moon god Tsuki-yomi, brother of the sun Goddess Amaterasu, dropped in for a visit. In an attempt to be hospitable, Uke Mochi threw up vast quantities of fish, seaweed, game and boiled rice.  Tsuki-yomi was so disgusted by the manner in which he had been served that he killed Her.  Herds of cattle and horses stampeded out of Uke Mochi’s head.  Rice, millet, and red beans spilled out of Her eyes, ears and nose.  Wheat sprouted from Her genitals, soy beans grew from Her rectum, and even a mulberry tree crawling with silkworms sprang from Her body.” [3]

“Uke Mochi” by Kabuki Katze

I find it interesting, and obvious now that I think about it, that two such important staples (corn and rice) are associated with Goddesses; Goddesses with different names and epithets across the regions They reign across (as there are many names for the Corn Mother among the various tribes of North America and for rice Goddesses across Asia – see Phosop).  Now, read this synopsis of the two main version about Corn Mother.  “The story of the Corn Mother is related in two main versions with many variations.

“Corn Maiden” by Marti Fenton (White Deer Song)

In the first version (the ‘immolation version’), the Corn Mother is depicted as an old woman who succors a hungry tribe, frequently adopting an orphan as a foster child. She secretly produces grains of corn by rubbing Her body. When Her secret is discovered, the people, disgusted by her means of producing the food, accuse Her of witchcraft. Before being killed—by some accounts with Her consent—She gives careful instructions on how to treat Her corpse. Corn sprouts from the places over which Her body is dragged or, by other accounts, from Her corpse or burial site.

In the second version (the ‘flight version’), She is depicted as a young, beautiful woman who marries a man whose tribe is suffering from hunger. She secretly produces corn, also, in this version, by means that are considered to be disgusting; She is discovered and insulted by Her in-laws. Fleeing the tribe, She returns to Her divine home; Her husband follows Her, and She gives him seed corn and detailed instructions for its cultivation.” [4]

“The Slaying of Mother Earth” by Matthew Bandel

Do you see the common theme in both the Japanese and Native American stories?  In all three stories, the Goddess produces food in ways that are considered “disgusting”.  In all three stories, She is sent away (either killed or flees).  In both the Japanese and Native American “immolation version”, food – vital staples for survival, sprout from Her body.  Really think about that.  Really think about the “disgusting” and “dirty” things that the Goddess does and is associated with that are necessary for life to flourish.  She takes abuse, is ridiculed and exploited for Her “dirtiness”; that which She freely sacrifices and gives out of love in order for Her children to live.  Thinking about this can get pretty deep…





Encyclopedia Britannica, “Corn Mother“.

Hathaway, Nancy. The Friendly Guide to Mythology: A Mortal’s Companion to the Fantastical Realm of Gods and Goddesses Monsters Heroes, “Uke Mochi“.

Khandro.net, “Rice“.

Wikipedia, “Inari Ōkami“.



Suggested Links:

OnMark Productions, “INARI / Oinari / Oinari-sama Shinto God/Goddess of Rice & Food“.

Kazuo, MATSUMURA.  “Alone Among Women: A Comparitive Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu Theology“.

Kuchinsky, Charolette. Yahoo! Voices, “The Myth of the Japanese Goddess, Ukemochi“.

Roberts, Jeremy. “Japanese Mythology A – Z“. (This is a PDF)

Yoose, Becky. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, “INARI = Shinto Rice Kami“.