In the mythology of Japan, the god Inari is associated mainly with the growing of rice. Because of the importance of this crop as a staple food in Japan, Inari is thought to bring prosperity not only to farmers but also to other groups of people, including merchants and traders. Many Japanese villages have a shrine to Inari, and people pray to him for good harvests. Many Japanese families used to worship Inari inside their homes, and he is sometimes associated with Uke-mochi, the goddess of food.

Portrayals of Inari in art vary considerably. He is generally shown either as a bearded old man or as a woman with long flowing hair. Whatever form Inari takes, the god appears with bags of rice. He is usually accompanied by two foxes, which act as his messengers. Shrines to Inari often contain statues of foxes. The most famous shrine to Inari is the Fushimi Shrine near the ancient city of Kyoto in Japan.

See also Animals in Mythology ; Japanese Mythology .

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