A grouping of Japanese scarecrows.
A grouping of Japanese scarecrows.

Kuebiko (久延毘古) is the Shinto kami ("god; deity") of folk wisdom, knowledge and agriculture, and is represented in Japanese mythology as a scarecrow who cannot walk but has comprehensive awareness.


Kuebiko (久延毘古, literally "long stretch help old", "old long extending border", "long-reaching old helping hand"), had an alternate name of Yamada-no-sohodo (山田之曾富騰, literally, "mountain paddy-field's once wealth rise"), with sohodo transcribing sōdo (案山子 "scarecrow", also pronounced sōzu or kakashi).

The traditional etymological explanations are Kuebiko from kuzue-biko (崩え彦 "crumbling prince") and Yamada no Sohodo meaning "someone left soaking wet from standing guard over mountain rice fields", a euphemism for scarecrow".[1]


The (c. 712) Kojiki ("Record of Ancient Matters") has the earliest reference to Kuebiko in the myth of Ōkuninushi ("Great Land Master"). When Ōkuninushi was at Cape Miho in Izumo, a small kami arrived in a boat. Nobody knew his name, but a toad suggested asking Kuebiko, who revealed the god was a scion of the goddess Kami-musubi (神産巣日) named Sukuna-bikona (少彦名神). In Basil Hall Chamberlain's translation,

Then the toad spoke, saying: "As for this, the Crumbling Prince will surely know it." Thereupon [the Deity Master-of-the-Great-Land] summoned and asked the Crumbling-Prince, who replied, saying: "This is the Little-Prince-the-Renowned-Deity, the august child of the Deity-Producing-Wondrous-Deity." ... So [the Deity here] called the Crumbling Prince, who revealed the Little-Prince-the-Renowned-Deity, is what is now [called] the scarecrow in the mountain fields. This Deity, though his legs do not walk, is a Deity who knows everything in the Empire.[2]

Many cultures have knowledge deity myths. Kuebiko is paralleled by two other Japanese kami of wisdom: Fukurokuju and Omoikane.

Modern usages

In the present day, Kuebiko is worshipped as the god of agriculture or scholarship and wisdom. The Kuebiko Shrine (Kuebiko jinja 久延彦神社), which is a subordinate shrine (massha) of Ōmiwa Shrine in Sakurai, Nara, is dedicated to this deity.

Kuebiko is a boss in the video game Shin Megami Tensei IV. Appearing in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, he refuses to negotiate with humans, saying he has lived in Shinjuku long before humans arrived to 'rule' over it.

Kuebiko is the name of a 2011 agricultural art exhibit, "Because he stands all day outdoors, he knows everything", held in Kimito, Finland.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Kuebiko, Encyclopedia of Shinto.
  2. ^ Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 1919, The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters, The Asiatic Society of Japan, p. 103.
  3. ^ Kuebiko Agri Art Project Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine.