or mizugami, 'water kami'. Water is vital both spiritually and materially; it is a purifying agent used in shrine rites (see Misogi) and a reliable supply is essential for Japanese agriculture, especially for rice-cultivation which requires the fields to be kept flooded. Suijin is a general term for the kami of springs, wells and other important sources of irrigation. Despite the general name 'suijin' the phenomenon of suijin is rather complex. Water-kami receive frequent worship under various names, particularly from women in agricultural communities and often at a small shrine set up near the water-source. The main water-kami found in large shrines and widely worshipped is Mizu-ha-no-me who was born from the urine of Izanami. Shrines of suijin under this name are found at the Kumano, Atsuta, Dewasanzan, Sumiyoshi, and other shrines. Suijin like to receive as offerings kyuri (cucumbers) and other such products of the field and are often represented in the form of a snake, fish, eel or kappa. Rivers in Japan traditionally have a multitude of different names according to the different localities they pass through, so water-kami are attached to particular stretches, torrents, waterfalls (also worshipped as the Buddhist divinity Fudo-myo) etc. rather than to a river as a whole.

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