Inugami – 犬神 29. February 2024

Inugami, enigmatic spirits of possession, are prevalent in Kyushu, Shikoku, and other regions of Western Japan. Masquerading as ordinary dogs in public to seamlessly blend into society, their true form unveils a desiccated, mummified canine head, often adorned in ceremonial garb, safeguarded within a clandestine shrine within their owner’s home.


In public, an Inugami adopts the guise of an ordinary canine, ensuring its inconspicuous presence. However, its authentic form reveals a desiccated, mummified dog’s head, commonly enrobed in ceremonial attire. This eerie artifact is securely housed within a secretive shrine, shielded from prying eyes, nestled within its owner’s residence.


Inugami share many traits with other familiars such as Shikigami and Kitsune-Tsuki. Often deployed in regions devoid of foxes, these spirits are entrenched in areas like bustling urban centers. Ancient traditions of Inugami reverence span from Western Japan to Okinawa, with powerful sorcerers purportedly crafting these spirits through monstrous rites for nefarious deeds. Operating akin to loyal canines, they dutifully serve their masters, remaining faithful to one individual or family lineage across generations. Despite their loyalty, mistreatment may incite betrayal, with Inugami inflicting fatal retribution upon oppressive masters. While intended to bestow prosperity, they can, on occasion, precipitate a family’s downfall.

A Brief Legend

The art of crafting these fetishes was hereditary, passed down through bloodlines, with such families dubbed “inugami-mochi.” Revered as family members, these familiars were concealed within households, nestled beneath beds or amongst household items. These spirits were revered by inugami-mochi families, swiftly fulfilling their master’s desires when beckoned. However, like living dogs, aggrieved Inugami might betray their masters, violently attacking them. Although crafted for prosperity, they could unwittingly lead families to ruin.

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