Thursday, October 6, 2016

Statue of Fūjin, the Japanese/Shinto god of the wind

Here's an addition to the series of old postcards from Japan that I've posted in the past couple of weeks.1 This striking card is labeled "God of Wind, Nikko."

Nikko is the location, and more on that in a minute. The name of this god is Fūjin, and he is indeed the Shinto god of the wind. Fūjin is portrayed as a green- or turquoise-skinned demon who carries a large bag of wind on his shoulders (as you can see here). In mythology, Fūjin is one of the children of deities Izanagi and Izanami. According to the website Japanese Mythology: "At the moment of [Fūjin's] birth, it was said that his breath was so powerful that all the clouds and mists in the world were immediately dispersed and world was full of brightness." Fūjin is often paired in stories and depictions with his brother Raijin, the god of lightning, thunder and storms.

Fūjin is not an original creation. His origin within Far East mythology can be traced back to Boreas, the Greek god of the cold north wind, who also carried a bag of wind across his shoulders (see image at right).2 Boreas was just one of multiple wind gods within the Greek pantheon. The entire group of them were named the Anemoi.

Getting back to his particular statue of Fūjin (sometimes Futen), its location is — and please correct me if I get any of these details wrong — the Nitenmon Gate at Taiyuinbyo, the mausoleum of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. This is within the city of Nikkō, Japan. That statue is paired at the gateway with a red statue of Raijin. To read more about this site, see

I don't have a date for this postcard, but it's certainly pre-World War II. We also need to take into account that it's hand-colored, when comparing this image to contemporary pictures of the Fūjin statue on Muza-chan's Gate to Japan and Pinterest.

That statue has not aged or worn well; some fingers are starting to crumble off. The most interesting, and perhaps hard to explain, difference between the old image on the postcard and the modern pictures is the cape or cloak tied around Fūjin's neck. I'm not sure why there are extra pieces now that weren't there in the first half of the 20th century. Maybe that entire piece was replaced at some point.

1. Previously:
2. Attribution for image of Boreas: By Original uploader was Per Honor et Gloria at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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