Japan is a country that amazes millions of visitors every year and attracts tourists from all over the world with its unique culture and history. It has many things that clearly differentiate it from its neighbors China, Korea and also Russia. Among these differences: the practice of Shintoism. This is the default religion of the Japanese archipelago.
It is so old that it is impossible for us to define precisely when it was introduced into the territory. What is certain, however, is that Shintoism is a polytheistic religion which includes many kami (gods) including Okami: the Japanese wolf god . In order to quickly discover what this creature is and why a cult is dedicated to the kami in Shintoism, we invite you to stay with us until the end of this article.
Who is Okami?
As mentioned in the introduction, Okami is therefore a kami . This is one of the Shinto deities, in the same way as Fujin, the god of wind, or Inari, the god of rice and fertility. If you have ever been to Japan or have seen images of certain landscapes, you must have definitely seen one of the torii gates . They are used to indicate the entrance to a Shinto temple and demarcate the sacred world from the profane world. There are in total more than 80,000 Shinto temples on the archipelago and even today more than 80% of Japanese are Shintoists.
Okami is therefore most often represented in the form of a white wolf or a wolfdog. He is also occasionally found with fiery fur. This image of Okami has become especially popular in recent years with the release of the game Okami. Finally, for literary people his name means the “admirable god”.
Okami in popular culture
Most non-Shintoists who know the word Okami owe it to the game of the same name: Ōkami . It is an action and adventure game in which the player plays a white wolf with fiery fur. This game alone brings together almost all of the popularization of kami Okami.
Wolves in Japan
Although Okami is represented by a wolf, this does not mean that this animal is very present on the archipelago. On the contrary, they have even been completely extinct for over a hundred years now (the last wolf dates from 1905).
Beyond biodiversity, the absence of wolves especially poses a problem in the forests because there are too many deer and wild boars. Plus, the fact that there aren't many hunters doesn't help matters. Ultimately, if wolves ended up disappearing, it was because their skin was used in Shinto rites and rabies decimated many of them.
However, this is not what prevents them from still being very present today in Japan and even throughout the world as a powerful animal that shows solidarity with its own people. For all those who would like to equip themselves with objects and clothing bearing the image of a wolf, do not hesitate to go to Louverture, a wolf boutique which offers many objects such as rings, t-shirts or even paintings.