The tutelary kami is what defined the nature of many of the local festivals in Japan’s past. For it was believed that in order to have a good harvest and continued fortune people needed to draw the mountain kami down into the rice paddies. To do this they held festivals in the kami’s honor and or to lure them to the excitement of the event. Such festivals were also designed to build a relationship with the kami.
Far from being ubiquitous each set of kami had their own personality and could even be a completely different type of being. In the story of the ‘Mountain Kami and the Ugly Fish’ a kami who was extremely sensitive and easily embarrassed discovered he was ugly and so fled up into the mountains to hide. Without his presence the plants began to wither and die, until the people of the village figured out how to get him to come back down. (read the Story)
In one village the woman would wear only loincloths and tell dirty jokes when they planted the rice in order to get the mountain kami to come into the field to watch and listen to them.
In yet another story an old farmer and his grandfather had to walk high into the mountains and wake the rain causing kami which was sleeping within a rock it had possessed. Because this kami had overslept people would do things to insure he was awake when they prayed to him. (Read the Story)
In still another case people offer the mountain kami rice porridge because she is said to have lots of children whom she has difficulty feeding. This is in part based on the fairly common motif that many mountain kami have one child for each month of the year.
In yet another story the spirit of a bear was said to reside in a rock. This spirit protected the village, travelers around the village and would make it easier to push or pull a heavy cart up a hill. (Read the Story)
In some parts of Europe people believed that the field spirit lived within the last sheaf of grain and so would make this into a straw figure with which all the men would dance at the harvest festival in order to show their appreciation (when the spirit manifested as a female).
In other cased field spirits could appear as predatory animals such as wolves and so people needed to be careful when entering the field. Further they might keep this field spirit in the barn to keep it from escaping into the wilderness in the winter.
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