What is the origin of “toilet kamisama”?


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)

3 thoughts on “What is the origin of “toilet kamisama”?

  1. ….and I am amazed about the history of toilet kamisama in your article. Yes, I agree with your opinion. I keep toilet clean and myself beautiful thanks to the power of kamisama.

  2. My mother had repeatedly talked the same story to me when I was a child. She told me to keep toilet clean. If I kept it clean, I could grow beautiful and spend comfortable during my periods thank to the power of toilet kamisama.

    I think that this story must be a kind of folklore or wisdom to keep toilets clean. Toilet is the place where it should be kept hygenically clean. But it is the place to store filthy things. Toilet is situated at the corner of the house and is cold in winter and dark at night. But it is the important place for everybody.

    I remind my mother’s tender smile while I am writing this reply. Thank you for giving me nice opportunity to remind me of my mother.

    • Dear Nishi san,

      I can only say thank you for putting a smile on my face as well.
      Since I had learned about the history of Toilet Kamisama, I am trying my best to keep my toilet clean. There is nothing for me to loose, because I might end up very beautiful while having a clean toilet.

      All the best and let’s keep our toilet clean,

      Sibylle Ito

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