Fujin: The Legacy of the Japanese God with the Wind Bag
Fujin is the Japanese god of wind, and he controls all the winds throughout the earth. He is lesser known than his famous brother, Raijin, the god of thunder. However, together they create storms and wreak havoc. Read on to learn about Fujin’s beginning and how he’s a little less fearsome than his brother.
Who Is Fujin in Japanese Mythology?
Fujin is the unique god of air and wind in Japanese mythology. While most figures in the Japanese pantheon are considered kami or god/spirit, Fujin is one of the Japanese oni. Oni is more like a Japanese demon god or troll as opposed to a regular god. He was sometimes still named as a god, but he was mostly viewed like an oni.
Along with his brother, Fujin also came from the underworld. He looked terrifying with his red-white hair, green skin, four fingers on each hand, and ogre-like face. He wore a leopard skin about his shoulders as well as a bag of wind which he used to create the winds, and his fingers represented the cardinal directions. He rode on a cloud, sometimes a storm cloud, to travel across the sky like his brother.
Even though he’s an oni, Fujin is kind of a neutral character, neither good nor evil. His brother, Raijin, with whom he created storms, was more like an evil character. Fujin was most often seen around storm times, especially during typhoons. Yet, he didn’t have the same angry power as his brother did, and he was a bit more of a relaxed demon spirit.
Names of Fujin, the Japanese Wind Spirit
The meaning of Fujin’s name is “wind god.” But he also has another name: “Futen,” which means “heavenly wind.”
Origin and Family of Fujin
Like his brother, Fujin was born from a corpse in the land of the dead. His parents were Izanagi and Izanami, the Japanese creator gods. They built the Japanese islands and birthed the gods. In addition to his brother, Raijin has a son named Raitoro, and Fujin is his uncle.
Myths of Fujin
Raijin doesn’t appear very often in Japanese myths, but he is more popular than Fujin, who appears even less so. He is responsible for a few things, however.
– Fujin’s Underworld Birth
One day, Izanami died, and she was sent to Yomi, the Land of the Dead in Japanese mythology. Izanagi was so sad that he rushed to Yomi. He was hoping that he could make it there in time to save his wife and bring her back to the world of the living. But when he arrived, he saw that she was already a part of the dead, her corpse rotting and full of maggots.
He hurried away to Izanami’s fury, and as she yelled after him, he closed the door to Yomi with a large boulder. But it wasn’t enough to keep some demons and spirits from escaping. Izanami bore Fujin and Raijin. She ordered them to get out into the land of the living and to cause as much death and destruction as possible. They did, and they worked hard to fulfill their mother’s command.
They’ve been credited for a few key moments when storms came to Japan.
– Fujin and the Saving of a Nation
Fujin and his brother saved Japan from many invasions. Typhoons were their specific specialty of storms, and Japan was victim to these violent storms often. The first time Fujin and Raijin helped to save Japan was in 1274. Mongol ships were heading towards the island of Japan, hoping to invade, but the brothers came together to attack.
A huge typhoon swept in and destroyed most of the Mongol ships, preventing what could have been a disastrous attack upon Japan. The second time was in 1281, and some sources state that it was the largest invasion in history. This time, Fujin and Raijin rushed in with all their storm powers and created a typhoon that lasted two days. This time, the storm killed tens of thousands of men.
They were not just Mongols attempting to invade but also Chinese and Korean. With his bag of wind, Fujin helped to support his brother’s thunder and lightning forces and they left destruction and death in their wake. It was not just then, but these were the most remembered times that the god and oni helped save Japan.
Fujin and Raijin in Artwork
Fujin and Raijin’s best-known representation is a pair of statues located outside of a temple in Kyoto. This is a Buddhist temple, and they stand on either side of the entranceway, protecting it.
Fujin and Other Gods
Because of trade, travel, and connection to other lands, Fujin has a lot of similarities to other wind gods from different cultures. One of the wind gods that he’s like Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind. This god also carries a bag of wind, and he has a sort of disheveled, wind-swept appearance like Fujin. It might seem strange that Greek culture would be able to affect a nation as far away as Japan, but it’s not crazy.
Greek culture was able to spread because Greece occupied parts of Central Asia. And there was, of course, the Silk Road, which spread both materials and ideas. The Greek representation of a wind god spread through Persia, India, and China, and then to Japan. First, Boreas became an important wind god in India for a time, and he was renamed Wardo.
Wardo was seen in Chinese art over time, and eventually, this wind god found his way to Japan, where he was renamed Fujin. Amazingly, he could be influenced by Greece. But he then came to stand on his own as a mythological character in his own right.
The Wind God in Pop Culture
Fujin, despite his lessened popularity to his brother, still appears in various pop media:
- In the video game “Mortal Kombat”
- In the cartoon “Let’s Go Luna!”
- In the video game, “Final Fantasy VIII”
Take a look at the main points about Fujin covered in the article above:
- Fujin is the god of wind in Japanese mythology. He has the power to control all the winds over the earth
- Along with his brother, Raijin, god of thunder and lightning, he creates powerful storms
- Raijin was an evil character, hoping he could cause destruction when he created thunder and lightning. But Fujin is a little less evil, and he has more of a relaxed view of his powers
- While Raijin is a god or kami, Fujin is more like a demon or troll, called an oni
- He has a terrifying appearance: red-white, tousled hair, wide eyes, ogre-like face, green skin, and four fingers on each hand
- He wears leopard skin on his shoulders. He also carries a bag of wind to help propel him around and create the winds on the earth
- Like his brother, he uses a cloud to travel across the sky
- His name means “wind god,” but he also sometimes went by “Futen” or “heavenly wind”
- Fujin originated from Yomi, the Land of the Dead in Japanese mythology. His parents were Izanagi and Izanami, the Japanese creator gods
- His mother, Izanami, died after they created the Japanese islands, and she was sent to Yomi
- His father, Izanagi, was so sad that he rushed off to the land of the dead to see if he could bring her back to the world of the living. But it was too late as Izanami was already a rotting corpse
- Frightened, Izanagi rushed away, and Izanami was furious, yelling after him. He closed the door to Yomi with a boulder, but it didn’t stop some demons from escaping
- Izanami bore both Fujin and his brother Raijin, and she instructed them to go after their father and cause destruction and death in the world. They attempted to keep their mother’s command
- They were credited with saving Japan on a couple of occasions by creating a wild storm
- The particular storm they used was typhoons, and it happened on two occasions: 1274 and 1281
- Both times they created a powerful typhoon
- In 1274, the typhoon helped to sink a big portion of the Mongol ships that were coming to invade Japan
- In 1281, Mongol, Chinese, and Korean warriors were coming to invade Japan once more. Some sources state it was the biggest invasion in history
- But the brothers worked together again and created a two-day typhoon that killed tens of thousands
- Their most famous representation in art is a pair of statues outside a Buddhist temple in Kyoto
- Fujin is likely an incarnation of the Greek wind god Boreas who also carried a windbag and looked windswept
- Knowledge and various representations of this wind god traveled across the Asian continent. Eventually, they reached Japan
- Fujin appears in the video games “Mortal Kombat” and “Final Fantasy VIII” as well as the cartoon “Let’s Go Luna!”
Most cultures in the past have a wind god who controls the wind and its power to hurt or heal. While wind is not as dangerous as lightning or rain, it can still have a devastating effect. It matches his image: less evil than his brother but still somewhat dangerous in his own right. Even today, typhoons are some of the most destructive storms, and Japan can still see Fujin’s legacy as he uses his bag of wind to create them.