- [New] Year kami. Also known as shogatsu-sama and toshitokujin 'year-virtue-deity'. The latter name derives from Yin-yang (onmyodo) tradition and relates to the tradition of eho-mairi, or visiting a shrine or temple in an auspicious direction (see Hatsumode). Toshigami is also closely associated with ancestral deities who are welcomed at new year. This season evidently used to be, as bon still is, a time for welcoming back the ancestors. 'Toshigami-sama' is welcomed into the home as an honoured guest. The kami may appear as an elderly couple or be represented, as in Kagoshima, southern Kyushu, by young men disguised as white-bearded old men who like the toshidon distribute rice cakes (mochi) to children. A special altar may be set up and offerings arranged in the house for the kami, who is identified variously as a kami of food or agriculture (ta-no-kami).See Namahage.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.