From the Edo until the Showa period, it was popular to dedicate to the gods a wooden votive, which typically had a picture of horses on it (“ema” = “picture of a horse”). Large votives on the wall in the prayer hall were usually offered by social cooperatives. Kakunodate has produced many painters since the old times, and many large votives with exceptional paintings exist. Individuals with wishes or those who wanted to express their gratitude for granted wishes usually offered small votives. Typically, votives for an Inari god of fertility (believed to take the shape of a fox) included a picture of a fox, those for Guanyin Bottisathva a picture of a horse, those for Hachiman a picture of a pigeon or an eagle, those for a dragon god a picture of a dragon or snake, those for Jizo Bodhisattva a picture of a lotus flower, and those for Susanoo-no-mikoto a picture of a cucumber. The small votive shown here was created by Taguchi Shugyo, the last disciple of Hirafuku Hyakusui, who conducted research on the votives influenced by the early folkloric artist Serizawa Keisuke. This is valuable material for research on small votives in Kakunodate.”

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