In October, among the fall plants and flowers of Murakami Garden at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, you can spy Kakashi, our resident scarecrow which makes its annual autumn appearance.
“Kakashi” (kanji: かかし) is the Japanese word for scarecrow. The Japanese tradition of scarecrows have a strong spiritual element connected to Shintoism. Farmers believed that “Kuebiko” (kanji: 久延毘古), the Shinto god of knowledge and agriculture, inhabited their kakashi in the spring.
The kakashi were Kuebiko’s way of gathering information by watching over fields and villages. Birds came and whispered their secrets to Kuebiko when they landed on kakashi. After the autumn harvest, kakashi were taken down, stacked together, and then burned. This released Kuebiko’s spirit to return to his home in the mountains to wait for the spring.
While our Kakashi is a modern interpretation, it does have most elements of the traditional “he-no-he-no-mo-he-ji” (へのへのもへじ) face. This face is used in Japan to symbolize a generic human face, particularly for scarecrows. It uses seven characters of the hiragana alphabet to draw the face.
Stop by to meet Kakashi, and don’t miss the other spooky-but-fun scarecrow creations as part of Steveston Village’s annual “Scarecrow Crawl” competition.