Shinto (the Way of the Gods) was the original religion in Japan and had no written literature before the arrival of the Buddhists. All true Japanese mythology comes from this religion. Shinto teaches that every natural thing, human, animate or inanimate, has a spirit in various degrees of vitality and strength.
The most popular creation myth concerns three beings who arose out of the primeval oily ocean mass. All that is known about these beings is that they produced generations of Gods and Goddesses, one pair of which was called Izanagi and Izanami. They came down to earth on a rainbow, but no land to land on. Izanagi stirred the ocean with his spear and the drops from the tip formed the island of Ono-koro. There the brother and sister married. They learned the art of lovemaking by watching two water birds. Their offspring included the rest of the islands of Japan, waterfalls, mountains, trees, herbs, and the wind. The last to be born was the god of fire, whose birthing killed Izanami.
The robe-clad godlike figures you may find in Japanese porcelain decorations are likely to be representations of various deities or mythological figures from Japanese folklore and Shintoism, the indigenous religion of Japan.
Some common examples include:
These godlike figures are commonly found in traditional Japanese art and are still widely used in modern-day Japan for decorative purposes. They are often depicted in various poses and dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, including robes and head dresses.
Ama no Uzume
Description: Fertility goddess who performed the lewd dance to draw Amaterasu out of the cave.
Rules Over: Good crops.
Description: Guardian of the Japanese people, ruler of all deities. One of her tasks was to weave sacred robes for the gods, a habit kept alive today by modern Shinto priestesses.
Rules Over: Warmth, harvest, love, fertility, goodness, wisdom, peace, light, compassion.
Description: Name given to the Gods of Heaven to distinguish them from the gods of the Earth (who are called the Kuni-Tsu-Kami).
Other Names: Amida.
Description: A form of the Buddha.
Rules Over: Protection, forgiveness.
Other Names: Benzaiten.
Description: Only goddess of good luck.
Rules Over: Protection from earthquakes, inspiration and talent, wealth and romance.
Chimati no Kami
Descriptoin: God of crossroads and footpaths.
Rules Over: Fertility.
Other Names: Emma-o.
Description: Male Ruler of the Underworld.
Rules Over: Death, revenge, destruction.
Description: A God.
Rules Over: Enlightening wisdom, intelligence, understanding, intuition, long life.
Description: Diefied historical figure after his death.
Rules Over: War, battle, bravery, honor, success in personal matters.
Other Names: Haya-tsu-mujo no Kami.
Description: God of the winds.
Rules Over: Winds, whirlwinds.
Description: Guardian of the Law.
Rules Over: Justice, law, victory, purity.
Description: Goddess, sometimes a god, of rice.
Rules Over: Shopkeepers, merchants, business, prosperity, smithing, sword blades.
Description: Stone-Coagulating Old Woman who was a smith-goddess who created the first mirror from copper stones out of the Isuzu River.
Rules Over: Smithing, creativity, creation.
Description: Creator God, earth God, Male Principle.
Rules Over: Magick.
Description: Divine Mother, Earth Goddess, Female Principle.
Rules Over: Magick.
Description: Protector of Mankind. Rescues souls from hell.
Rules Over: Children, the dead, comfort, rescue, counsel for the dead, protection from evil.
Other Names: Kannon, Kwannon.
Description: Male form of the Chinese Guanyin.
Rules Over: Mercy, compassion.
Kaya nu Hima
Description: Goddess of herbs.
Rules Over: Herbs.
Other Names: Kishimo-Hin.
Description: Protectress of children, Universal Mother.
Rules Over: Compassion, childbirth, life, balance, fertility.
Description: Goddess of the cherry tree.
Rules Over: Cherry trees.
Nai no Kami
Description: God of earthquakes.
Rules Over: Earthquakes.
Other Names: Kami-Naru.
Description: Goddess of thunder.
Rules Over: Thunder, protection, treese, artisans.
Other Names: Okuninushi.
Description: Earth God.
Rules Over: Medicine, sorcery, cunning, self-realization.
Description: Goddess of the willow tree.
Rules Over: Willow Trees.
Other Names: Shio-zuchi.
Description: Most important sea deities.
Rules Over: The ocean tides and sea creatures.
Description: First and most important of eight mountain gods.
Rules Over: All mountains and volcanoes.
Description: Goddess of the plum blossoms.
Rules Over: Plum blossoms.
Sae no Kami
Description: Name for the guardian gods of the roads.
Rules Over: Protection from misfortune.
Other Names: Shaka-nyorai.
Description: Japanese name for the Buddha.
Rules Over: Virtue, enlightenment, self-realization.
Other Names: Shichi-Kukujin.
Description: The Seven Gods of Happiness.
Their Names: Ebisu (patron of work), Daikoku (prosperity), Benzaiten (love), Bishamonten (happiness and war), Fukurokuju (happiness and long life), Juojin (happiness and long life), Hotei Osho (good fortune).
Other Names: Susanowo.
Description: Mischief making god of storm and thunder.
Rules Over: Agriculture, earthquakes, rain, storms, snakes, bravery, the seas, trees.
Description: Sea Goddess.
Description: Goddess of singing who appears in the shape of a bullfinch.