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Japanese Buddhism, Photo Dictionary of Japan's Shinto and Buddhist DivinitiesRETURN TO TOP PAGE of Japanese Buddhist Statuary A to Z Photo Library & Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses, Shinto Kami, Creatures, and DemonsCopyright and Usage PoliciesJump to Sister Store Selling Handcrafted Buddha Statues from China, Japan, and Asia
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A TO Z INDEX
3 Element Stele
3 Monkeys
4 Bosatsu
4 Celestial Emblems
4 Heavenly Kings
5 (Number Five)
5 Elements
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5 Wisdom Kings
6 Jizo
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10 Kings of Hell
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12 Zodiac Animals
13 Butsu (Funerals)
28 Legions
28 Constellations
30 Buddha of Month
30 Kami of Month
33 Kannon
About the Author
Agyo
Aizen
Amano Jyaku
Amida Nyorai
Apsaras
Arakan (Rakan)
Arhat (Rakan)
Ashuku Nyorai
Asuka Era Art Tour
Asura (Ashura)
Baku (Eats Dreams)
Bamboo
Benzaiten (Benten)
Bibliography
Big Buddha
Birushana Nyorai
Bishamon-ten
Bodhisattva
Bonbori Artwork
Bosatsu Group
Bosatsu of Mercy
Bosatsu on Clouds
Buddha (Historical)
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Children Patrons
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Early Buddhism Japan
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Eight Legions
En no Gyoja
Estores
Family Tree
Footprints of Buddha
Fox (Inari)
Fudo (Fudou) Myoo
Fugen Bosatsu
Fujin (Wind God)
Fukurokuju
Gakko & Nikko
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Godai Nyorai
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Goddesses
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Hachi Bushu
Hachiman
Hands (Mudra)
Hell (10 Judges)
Hell Hag (Datsueba)
Hell Scrolls
Henge
Hikyu (Lion Beast)
Holy Mountains
Ho-o (Phoenix)
Hotei
Idaten
Inari (Fox)
Ishanaten
Ishidoro (Ishidourou)
Jikokuten
Jizo Bosatsu
Jocho Busshi
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Jurojin
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Jyaki or Tentoki
Kaikei Busshi
Kamakura Buddhism
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Kannon Bosatsu
Kappa
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Karura
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Kitchen Gods
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Kitsune (Oinari)
Kokuzo Bosatsu
Koujin (Kojin)
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Korean Buddhism
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Lanterns (Stone)
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Making Statues
Mandara (Mandala)
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Myo-o
Nara Era Art Tour
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Sanno Gongen
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Seishi Bosatsu
Sendan Kendatsuba
Seven Lucky Gods
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Shape Shifters
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Shinra Myoujin
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Six States
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Symbols & Objects
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Temples
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Tenbu Group
Tengu
Tennin & Tennyo
Tentoki or Jyaki
Terminology
Tibetan Carpets
Tibet Photos
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Transmigration
Ungyo
Unkei Busshi
Videos on Buddhism
Water Basin
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Wheel of Life
Yakushi Nyorai
Yasha (Yaksha)
Zao Gongen
Zen (Daruma)
Zen Art Tour
Zodiac Calendar
Zochoten

 

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HENGE 変化 = Shape Shifters
Henge - Japanese deities with shape-shifting powers (fox, tanuki, tengu)

Animals and mythological creatures that can transform themselves into humans or other entities -- for either benevolent or malevolent purposes -- are called henge 変化 in Japan. In folklore, the Kitsune and Tanuki are masters of transformation, as is the Tengu, the bird-man goblin of mountain forests. All incorporate both Shinto and Buddhist attributes. Some say the Kitsune (fox) and Tanuki (racoon-like dog) are manifestations of the powerful Tengu (bird-man). The latter is worshipped as the slayer of vanity and pride. Click any image below to learn more. There is also the powerful Dragon, who is more closely aligned to Buddhist traditions. Nonetheless, Japan’s imperial family even today claims direct descent from the line of the Dragon King. The term henge is also used to describe the various manifestations of Kannon Bosatsu.

Fox - Kitsune

Tanuki (magical fox-like dog)

Tengu - Japanese slayer of vanity

FOX (Kitsune)
Able to transform into human shape (typically that of a bewitching woman), and to hear and see all secrets of humankind, the fox is Inari’s messenger.

TANUKI
Can transform into any living or inanimate shape, but often assumes the form of a monk or a tea kettle to play tricks on people. In legends, the Tanuki can cast powerful illusions -- they can turn leaves into fake money or horse excrement into a delicious-looking dinner. 

TENGU
Mountain and forest goblins with both Shinto & Buddhist attributes. Their supernatural powers include shape-shifting into human or animal forms, the ability to speak to humans without moving their mouth, the magic of moving instantly from place to place without using their wings, and the sorcery to appear uninvited in the dreams of the living.

Dragon - Ryutakuji TempleDRAGONS. According to mythology from both China and Japan, dragons possess the power of transformation, and can change themselves into alluring male or female forms and thereafter mate with people. Indeed, the Japanese Imperial family claims direct descent from Princess Toyotama (Rich Jewel or Fruitful Jewel), who was the daughter of the Dragon King. See the DRAGON page for general details about this magical creature, or view the TALE OF HOORI to learn about the origins of Japan’s first human emperor, Jimmu Tenno. Because of such tales, the dragon was often used in old-world Asia as the crest or emblem of imperial houses.

Tale of Hoori http://web.archive.org/web/20000815090229/http://www.harapan.co.jp/english/miya_e/myth/kojiki_Hoori.htm

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