Crow & Dog

There are certain animals that hold a very special place in Japanese culture, and this can be seen through their inclusion in folklore, traditional sculptures, and spiritual symbolism. Two of the more well-known animals in Japanese tradition, the inu [dog] and karasu [crow] play pivotal roles across countless mythological tales and their symbolization can be found throughout many aspects of daily life in Japan.

It is believed that dogs in Japanese were first domesticated as early as the Jomon period [10,000 B.C.]. The famous tale of Hachikō, the faithful dog of the 1920s tale who met his master every single day at the end of work at the Shibuya train station embodies everything a dog symbolizes in Japanese culture. Even after Hachiko’s master died at work one day, Hachiko continued showing up at the train station every single day for 10 more years. Unsurprisingly the symbolism of dogs is associated with diligence, honor, and devotion. Furthermore, Komainu (lion-dogs) are guardian spirits, whose statues frequent the entrances of hundreds of Shinto temples and shrines. Dogs represent security and protection and are often represented in Japanese folklore as defenders of people. Conventional principle states that inu possess the magical ability to deter demons and evil spirits. It has also been mentioned that dog figures were placed at city’s gates to scare away foxes and other creatures. Perhaps the greatest sign of the dog’s importance to the Japanese people would be its inclusion on the Juunishi [Japanese zodiac]. This is just further proof how prevalent dogs were in Japanese mythology, and the level of respect they garner to this day.


Much like the dog, crows are a major player across Japanese folklore and have a heavy symbolic meaning.  Traditionally known as spiritual birds that carry spirits, a famous folklore depicts crows as the birds of death. It was believed that when a crow cawed loudly, there was a death nearby. While this depiction may seem like the crow has a negative association, that could not be further from the truth. Japanese culture places a great emphasis on these birds and they believe that they symbolize gratitude, guidance, divineness and good luck. Known as one of the holiest birds in all of Japan, the crow has significant involvement in Japanese mythology. Numerous tales depict crows intervening in human affairs, along with acting as a trustworthy guide during times of need. Even after growing up in Tokyo, it somehow evaded me that the symbol of the Japanese Football Association [JFA] is the yatagarasu, the famous three-legged crow who guided the first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jinmu, on his eastern expedition by holding up a torch.

Overall, the dog and the crow hold significant meaning across Japanese culture. Two of our most popular brews, the Daitengu “Heavenly Dog” Tokubetsu Junmai and the Daitengu “Crow” Tokubetsu Junmai come in beautiful ceramic vessels styled as both a dog and a crow.

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