Since last year the song about a god in the toilet (トイレの神様) became popular in Japan. At the year end it seemed almost everywhere the song of singer-songwriter Kana Uemura could be heard. She is recounting her thoughts about her dead grandmother in her song. Although it is a rather long heartwarming song, at least year’s Kohaku (NHK promoted year end singing battle) Uemura performed the whole length of the song. The actual song can be seen below on YouTube, but I believe more interesting is how come that there is a belief of a god residing in the toilet in Japan?
According to Wikipedia and based on my own research in Japanese Zen and Shingon Buddhism, Ucchusma is the guardian of the bathroom. Most likely Kukai had introduced Ucchusma to Japan in the 8th century. Although the toilet god is not so commonly known nowadays, some Shingon related temples still have the tradition of having a special temple set up for the toiled god. Near Oimachi in Tokyo you can find at a local temple (part of the Ebara Shichifukujin) just beside the toilet a statue of Ucchusma. The origin comes from Sanskrit, when Ucchusma can be defined as to scavenge for the leftover food on mouth and hands. For further details do not hesitate to check out the origins of Ucchusma on this link.
Remember it is worthwhile to keep your toilet clean, as someone might be watching you! I have now as a constant reminder a special paper token of Ucchusma in our toilet.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)