Inari, The Great Fox is the Jangese goddess of foxes, fertility, fire, and rice. In Jang's feudal period, she was also venerated as a goddess of protection. She is also the mother of the Kitsune race. Despite being considered a minor goddess, and though the origins of her worship are not quite clear, she is nonetheless quite popular; roughly one quarter of all the shrines currently found in Jang are devoted solely to her alone.
Title(s): The Great Fox, Mother of Foxes
Portfolio: Foxes, Fertility, Rice, Fire, Nature
Symbol: A Fox with 13 Tails.
Traditionally, Inari is depicted in one of two forms - as an especially powerful, beautiful, and curvaceous Kitsune with more tails than the norm (typically 13), or as a large fox with just as many tails. In her humanoid form, she is typically depicted as having brilliant red hair and tail-fur to match wearing simple but elegant robes made of silk, modified to accomodate her tails. In statues of her humanoid form, she is traditionally depicted with a downward-cast, but serene and contempative expression. In her fox form, she is often depicted as a stylized fox of massive size.
Inari teaches that all things are part of a cycle of growth and rebirth. Farmers in particular revere her, offering special prayers and sacrifices (of seeds and grain) to her at both planting and harvesting time. She urges her followers and children to treat the world with care and respect, and urges means to keep fields fertile (such as crop rotation and allowing fields to fallow). Women often prayed to her when trying to conceive children. During Jang's feudal period, she was often worshipped as a goddess of protection and fire by blacksmiths and warriors. In this regard she was seen as a protector and guardian, and soldiers who followed her often carried their belief in their goddess to new lands, which resulted in her being one of the most-worshipped deities in Jang.
Clergy and TemplesEdit
The entrance to an Inari shrine is usually marked by one or more bright red or orange tori gates and statues of kitsunes, which are often adorned with bright red votive bibs by worshippers out of respect. This red coloration is believed to have come into prominence due to the color similarities to Jangese fox species. Kitsune statues outside such shrines conventionally hold symbolic items in their mouths or beneath their front paws - most commonly, a jewel or key, but periodically a short sword, sheaf of rice, or a scroll are seen. These fox statues are rarely realistic, featuring the fox seated, its tail high, looking forward and proud. Despite this, the statues are quite unique, and rarely are any two even remotely the same.
To appease Inari, gifts of food - typically rice and sake - are left at the shrine statues - whom, as Inari's messengers, are expected to plead with the goddess on the worshipper's behalf. Inari-zushi, a Jangese roll of fried tofu which has pointed corners resembling a fox's ears, is an especially prized food believed to more readily curry the goddess' favor, due to it being favored by the Kitsuns themselves. Fox statues are often given to temples by worshippers as well.