What are Kamagami ?
Enshrining gods by placing them above the fireplace, kitchen stove, or any other area where people use fire, is a custom you will see nationwide. But to enshrine big kamagami masks that are put up in homes is something you will only find around the northern part of Miyagi and the southern part of Iwate.
They are also called the gods of the kitchen, and you will often see kamagami that have turned black from soot hanging above the kitchen stove .
Kamagami masks are either made by wood or clay.
Wood from different kind of trees can be used, such as Japanese cedar trees, Japanese cypress trees, pine trees, empress trees, Japanese chestnut trees, Japanese zelkova trees, or from wedding cake trees.
It is said that Kamagami masks were made by carpenters and plasterers who made the houses, but this isn’t confirmed to be true.
Kamado are cooking stoves made out of clay or stone, that get to a high temperature very easily, so you can cook or simmer food in a saucepan or cauldron.
Kamado keep families fed, and are an incredibly important tool to prepare food with – it’s the most important thing to a family.
Saying “we have a kamado” is like saying “we have a home”.
The same goes for saying “we’re dividing our kamado” when a family expands as a result of their child marrying into a family.
When the new couple moves into a new house, the head family will divide the ashes from the god of fire (the ashes from the kamado), and give them to the new family to put in their kamado so they can enshrine the ashes.
In other words, the kamado fire is the fire of a home, and the fire of a home is “the god of the house”.
The gods protecting these important kamado are kamagami.
Kamagami are gods who protect fire, and repel against fire calamities and evil, but they are also gods who call for luck and invite prosperity into the homes of the people. They are gods who are enshrined because they protect the home in its entirety.
It is said that when all the gods gather at the Izumo shrine (one of the most ancient and important shrine in Japan), kamagami remain to keep watching over the homes of the people.
To us, fire is a very important thing that we can absolutely not live without.
At the same time, it can be a very dangerous thing.
The reason that kamagami have such a scary expression on their face, is to let us know that we should fear fire, and it may be something that has taught us to pray for a safe escape in case of a fire calamity.
The kamagami you can find on our webshop are made by Kōbō kamagami (“Kamagami atelier”), located in Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture.
The owner of Kōbō kamagami set foot into this world after asking a kamagami master to become his disciple.
“While this part of our traditional culture has been declining, my teacher has continued to keep the tradition of making kamagami for 30 years. I want to continue protecting the techniques and skills that I have inherited from him. And I think that by keeping this traditional part of our culture alive like my teacher did before me, is a way of repaying him.”
And while carrying this wish, he carefully carves and carves to keep on creating kamagami masks.
“There are a lot of things about kamagami that have not been very clear. I think that’s very mysterious, don’t you think so?” The owner says.
Kōbō kamagami creates many kamagami that give off both strength and kindness.
Source：「工房 釜神」 【釜神の伝説 言い伝え 習俗】