Inugami, or literally "dog-god" is a kind of spirit that can possess a human, and is a type of kodoku(1*) The belief in this spirit was still strong until recent years and was widespread particularly in western part of Japan.
who can create and command Inugami is called "Inugami-tsukai" (Dog-god
User). Inugami-tsukai creates an Inugami by the following method; first,
you take a live dog and bury it in the ground up to its neck. Then you
put some food in front of the dog but just beyond its reach, so that the
dog can see the food but not eat it. You let the dog starve and when it
is near to death and its desire for food is strongest, the
Inugami-tsukai must go behind the dog and cut off its head. The dog's
head is then buried undeground in the middle of a cross-road; this is to
get as many people walk over it as possible in order to intensify its
grudge. Finally the head is dug up and enshrined. Now a powerful inugami
is born (2*).
can be commanded to possess a person. Those who are easily possessed by
Inugami are the ones who are emotionally unstable. The possessed may
act and say odd things, complain of pains in the chest and limbs, and
sometimes walk on all fours and even bark like a dog.
In order to exorcise an Inugami you need either eat a charred beast, or ask a Yamabushi (3*)to perform a special ritual (involving use of fire and incantation) for you.
size of Inugami is about the same as a large rat. Some say it is
covered with spots and is blind. It is usually invisible to ordinary
Inugami-suji "The Dog-god Bloodline"
family which is possessed by an inugami is described as "Inugami-suji",
meaning "dog-god bloodline." They are said to be the descendants of the
shamans and sorcerers who originally created Inugami.
family worships it the Inugami bestows proeperity on it; on the other
hand if the spirit is treated poorly it will bring calamity to the
In Inugami-suji household, a new Inugami is created every
time a girl is born. When the girl marries, she is said to take her
Inugami with her, thus making the new household an Inugami-suji too. For
this reason normally marrying to an Inugami-suji was the thing to be
avoided by common people. In few areas of Japan, some people still check
the bloodline of the bride before marriage to make sure that she is not
from an Inugami-suji.
1*Kodoku - a black magic that uses living animals; will be explained more in detail in this blog in the near future.
2*This is the most well-known method. A source says when the dog's head is cut off it should fly and bite the food in front of it.
3* Yamabushi - lieterally meaning "one who lies in the mountain" Yamabushi is a Japanese ascetic and is a practitioner of shugendo, a syncretic religion mixing Buddhist and Shinto elements. (wikipedia).