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Kami, Deities, Spirits and Powers



Aidono no kami
Amaterasu
Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami
Araburu kami
Bakemono
Benzaiten
Bishamon
Bosatsu
Bunrei
Chien-shin
Chiju (no kami)
Daikoku
Dainichi Nyorai
Dosjin
Ebisu
Eight imperial tutelary deities
En-musubi
Fuku-roku-ju
Funadama
Gion
Gokaku
Gongen
Goryo
Gozu Tenno
Hachiman
Hachioji
Hi-no-kami
Hiru-ko-no-kami
Hoso-shin
Hotei
Hotoke
Inari
Ji-nushi-gami
Jigami
Jurojin
Kada-mori-no-kami
Kaijin
Kamadogami
Kannon
Kappa
Kasuga (Daimyojin)
Kawaya no kami
Kenzoku
Ketsuien-shin
Kojin
Kompira
Konjin
Kono-hana-sakuya-hime-koshin
Koto-shiro-nushi-no-kami
Kotsu-anzen
Kuni-toko-tachi no mikoto
Magatsuhi-no-kami
Majinai
Marebito
Mi-itsu
Mi-ko-gami
Mi-megumi
Misogi-harai-no-kami
Mi-tama no fuyu
Mizugami
Mono
Munakata-no-kami
Musubi-no-kami
Myojin
Myoken
Namahage
Namazu
O-kuni-nushi
Onryo
Raijin
Riyaku
Ryujin
Saelsai no kami
Sanjuban-shin
Sanno
Saruda-hiko
Shaka
Senzo
Shichi-fuku-jin
Shikon
Shunbutsu shugo
Shinmei
Shintaizen
Sukuna-hikona-no-kami
Susa-no-o
Suwa
Take-mika-zuchi-no-kami
Tama
Ta-no-kami
Tanuki
Tenjin
Tenno
Toshigami
Toshitokujin
Tosho Daigongen
Toyo-uke
Tsuki-yomi
Ubusuna
Ujigami
Umi no kami
Yama-no-kami
Yao-yoruzu-no-kami
Yashikigami
Zoka no kami
Zuijin
Izanagi and Izanami

Aidono no kami- aidono are altars to the left and right of the principal kami in the honden. They enshrine subordinate or “guest kami”, deities who are known as aidono no kami.

Ama-tsu-kami-the kami of heaven (ama/ame). In shinto theology drawing on the Nihongi and Kojiki accounts of creation the Ama-tsu-kami or heavenly kami are usually compared and contrasted with the kuni-tsu-kami or kami of the land. Both types of kami stem from the same source at the beginning of creation, the heavenly kami Amaterasu and the prototypical earthly kami Susano-o are sister and brother. Broadly speaking, the Ama-tsu-kami descended to pacify the world occupied by the kuni-tsu-kami, a myth which suggests that this world embodies heavenly and earthly influences all ultimately of divine origin. There is however no consistent distinction between the two types of kami in the myths, and the distinctions that are made have little practical significance in shrine worship where the kami of particular locations receive equal regard according to their special merits (shintoku, mi-itsu) whether they belong to one, both or neither of these categories.

Amaterasu-heavenly-shining great kami. The kami ehshrined principally at the inner shrine of the Ise jingu and at numerous other shrines throughout Japan. The name is widely translated “sun goddess”. The gender of Amaterasu was not settled until the 6th century when she became known as a female kami. Information about Amaterasu and her brother Susa-no-o is derived mainly from the Kojiki and Nihongi, according to whose accounts Amaterasu retreated into a dark cave in response to Susa-no-o’s outrageous behavior. She was enticed out by the laughter of the assembled heavenly deities during a provocative dance by “the dread female of heaven” and after that features little in the myths in comparison with Susa-no-o. she is however popularly worshipped at or in relation to the sun, for example in Kuraozumi-kyo and by himachi. Amaterasu was produced from the left eye of the god Izanagi during his purification in a steam after returning from the underworld. In turn she is grandmother of the legendary first unifier of Japan (Ninigi) and great-grandmother of the first emperor, Jimmu. Because Amaterasu instructed her grandson to rule over the land, successors of Ninigi legitimized their claim to rule as descendants of Amaterasu, so Amaterasu is the tutelary deity and ancestor of the imperial clan. In 742 when the casting of the great Buddha-image (daibutsu) of Vairochana Buddha (Dainichi Nyorai) was being considered at Nara an oracle from Ise was secured by the monk Gyogi which declared that the sun and the Buddha were identical and strongly endorsed devotion to the Buddha. The identification of Amaterasu as Dainichi persisted throughout Japanese history until the separation of kami and Buddhas (shinbutsu bunri) in 1868. Before the Meiji period Amaterasu was popularly worshipped under the name of Tensho daijin. Other noble families in Japan claimed descent from the gods but after the Meiji period the relationship between Amaterasu and the imperial line was brought into special prominence as shrines were systematically organized into a national hierarchy with Ise, Amaterasu, and the divine emperor at the apex.

Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami-the kami “master of the August center of heaven,” the first of the heavenly deities mentioned in the Kojiki together with the two musibi kami. His name does not recur as the sole kami in some shrines. A large number of myoken shrines originally dedicated to the pole-star were “shinto-ised” in the Meiji period and identified instead as Ame-no-minake-nushi shrines. Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami was regarded by Hirata, Atsutane as the supreme deity of shinto and he is often presented in modern shinto theology as the creator kami, particularly since the creative process described in the Nihongi relies on the Chinese concepts of yin and yang.

Araburu kami-“savage” or unruly kami referred to in the Kojiki who can be pacified and transformed by shinto matsuri.

Awashima-sama- the popular name for Awaji Myojin. The name derives from the accounts in the Kojiki and Nihongi of the first birth by sexual reproduction of the “leech child” hiru-ko and the island called Aha/awa or Ahaji/Awaji. Belief in Awashima-sama was popularized in the 17th century by wandering “ahashima” priest-healers specializing in gynecological illnesses.

Bakemono-spirits possessed of evil powers. The term covers various spirits such as kappa, mono-no-ke (evil spirits), oni, tengu (a bird-like spirit of the forest) and yamanba or yama-uba (a mountain witch).

Benzaiten-or Benten. On of the shichi-fuku-jin. Originally sarcasvati, a deity of Hindu origin introduced to Japan with Buddhism and associated with the arts and music. In Japan she has been credited with the power to grant longevity, eloquence, wisdom and military victory as well as providing protection from natural disasters. Her symbol is the biwa (lute) and she is often represented with coils of snakes, believed to stand for jealousy, which discourages married couples from visiting her shrine together. She has a “shinto” name, ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto but often neither priests nor worshippers distinguish her as being particularly shinto or Buddhist.

Bishamon-or Bishamonten. One of the shichi-fuku-jin. He is of Indian Buddhist origin (Sanskrit: Vaishravana), one of the shi-tenno (four heavenly kings) and a symbol of authority. According to Buddhist lore he lives in the 4th layer of Mt. Sumeru, the mountain at the center of the world, and protects the northern quarter and the preaching-place of the Buddha. He is represented as a fierce warrior in full armor with a spear in one hand and a “treasure tower” or pagoda in the other.

Bosatsu- Bodhisattva (Sanskrit). The Buddhist bosatsu is an embodiment, visible or invisible, of the highest ideal of Mahayana Buddhism and is for all practical purposes in distinguishable in character from the various Mahayana (“great vehicle”) Buddhas (butsu, nyorai). She or he-the most popular in Japan is the female bosatsu Kannon (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara)-in possessed of the highest wisdom, compassion and other perfections of selflessness and therefore appears in this world not as a result of craving or desire like other beings but only to engage in “skilful means” to bring living beings to enlightenment. To perform their liberating work bosatsu appear in various convenient forms including those of local kami. Before the Meiji period shrines or shrine-temple complexes (jisha, jinguji) routinely worshipped kami as bosatsu or Buddhas. Named bosatsu and kami were correlated more or less systematically with each other according to the history, legends, and affiliations of the shrine-temple in question. Until 1868 for example Hachiman was Hachiman dai (great) bosatsu, Susa-no-o was Gozu Tenno. Statues and paintings (shinzo, kaiga) of Buddhas and bosatsu were employed from the Nara period onwards as shintai of the kami but with a few chance exceptions were burnt or disposed of as part of shinbutsu bunri.

Bunrei-divided spirit, fraction of a spirit. A ceremony to divide and then install the bunrei of the kami of a main shrine is the normal means by which a branch shrine (bunsha) is established and empowered. The rei or mitama of the kami is not diminished in any way by this “division”. Famous shrines may distribute thousands of bunrei over time, to establish new shrines or enhance the power of existing ones. The Iwashimizu Hachimagu is reputed to have distributed 30,000 bunrei, the Usa Hachimangu 15,000 and the Suwa Taisha over 10,000. O-fuda function is a similar way to bun-rei but are intended for the home kamidana which does not have the status of a recognized shrine.

Chien-shin-area-related kami. A kami, worshipped by a small group living in a particular geographical area, which protects that region.

Chinju no kami-a deity similar to the yashikigami who belongs to or is invited in to protect a specific area. Chinju no kami are traditionally found in large and important buildings including Buddhist temples and tend to become regarded as ujigami or ubusuna no kami. An example is the chinju of the Kanda area of Tokyo, propitiated in the Kanda-matsuri.

Daikoku-or Daikoku-ten. A syncretic deity uniting the Indian god Magakala with the kami o-kuni-mushi (great land-possessor, which can also be read dai-koku) and identified variously as the god of the kitchen, of wealth or fortune, and especially in Kyushu as kami of the rice fields and agriculture. Saicho (Dengyo daishi) who may have introduced the worship of Daikoku to Japan, enshrined him at Mt. Hiei. He was linked in popular belief from the medieval period with the god Ebisu. In the Tokugawa period Shusse (“success”) dai koku was widely revered as the god of ambition and achievement. He is now generally represented as one of the shichifukujin, in which from he appears wearing a black hat, with a bag over his shoulder and holding a wish-fulfilling mallet.

Dainichi nyorai-Mahavaivochana Buddha. The Buddha of great light. The dharmakaya (body of the dharma) Buddha who is the central object of worship and focus of meditation of the Shingon Buddhist sect. From at least the 11th century Amaterasu and Toyo-uke were identified as a manifestation of Dainichi-suijaku theory, according to which the inner and outer shrines of Ise jungu were a manifestation of the dual aspects of Dainichi.

Dosojin-the “ancestors” of roads, also known as sae no kami or dorokujin and often represented as an old couple. As kami of roads, borders, mountain passes and other “transitional” spaces they protect the village against pestilence and disease as well as from spirits and are associated with procreation and childbirth. They may be found enshrined in this form in dosojin jinja.

Dozoku-shin- ancestral kami of a dozoku or kinship group. The dozoku comprises of the branch families (bunke) of a main family honke. Worship of the Dozoku-shin is carried out by the honke or main household.

Ebisu-one of the shichi-fuku-jin, Ebisu is an extremely popular deity of prosperity thought originally to have come from the sea bringing blessings from a distant country. He is closely linked with Daikoku and variously identified with the Buddhist Fudo, with Hiru-ko-ko-kami and especially since the Meiji separation of kami and buddhas (shinbutsu bunri), with koto-shiro-nushi-no-kami who unlike Ebisu features in the Kojiki. In fishing communities Ebisu was associated with good catches while in the countryside he was the god of the rice fields (tanokami) and in the city from about the 12th century onwards the protector of markets and merchants. Ebisu is generally represented as a fat, smiling, bearded fisherman holding a fishing rod and a large sea bream. Being deaf, he does not hear the kami being summoned to Izumo for the “kami-na-zuki” lunar month of October which is when his main festival takes place.

Eight imperial tutelary deities- the focus of ritual cults of the imperial house which were maintained from the 15th century exclusively by the Yoshida and Shirakawa houses and after 1868 the short-lived Department of Divinity (Jingikan). The deities are Ikumusubi no kami, kami musubi no kami, Kotoshiron ushi no kami, miketsuno kami, omiya no mekami, Takami musubi no kami, Tamatsume musubi no kami and Tara musubi no kami.

En-musubi-“joining often.” En means karmic connections or affinity, and en-musubi means marriage. Certain shrines including the Izumo taisha offer en-musubi (or ryoen) as a nyaku.

Fuku-roku-ju-one of the shichi-fuku-jin, a Taoist god of popularity, his name means happiness-wealth-longevity. He is believed to have been a Chinese hermit of the Sung dynasty and is represented as a small elderly man with a long bald head. He is sometimes escorted by a crane, deer or tortoise and carries a book of sacred teachings tied to his staff, similar to jurojin.

Funadama-boat-spirit. A female divinity who protects and helps mariners and fishermen. She is represented by symbols such as a woman’s hair, dice, money and the 5 grains inserted into the mast of a boat.

Gion-an alternative name for the Yasaka Jinja, Kyoto. It derives from Gion-shoja (Sanskrit: Jetavana-vihara) a monastery built in Koshala (Central India) by the rich Merchant Sudatta, said to be the first donated to the Buddhist order. Gion is also a collective term for the purifying deities enshrined in the Yasaka Jinja, Susano-o-no-mikoto, Yasaka-no-sume-no-kami (Gion-san) and Inada hime-no-mikoto.

Gokaku-Educational success. One of the riyaku (benefits) most likely to be offered by temples and shrines and petitioned for by pre-university students in contemporary Japan, where employ ability and life prospects, and are firmly believed to be, closely linked to academic educational success may be obtained, ema inscribed and prayers addressed to the kami, particularly Tenjin who is the patron kami of scholarship.

Gongen-avatar incarnation, manifestation commonly dai-gongen “great gongen”. An incarnation or temporary manifestation of a “Buddha” or bosatsu formal designations of kami as gongen seem to have occurred mainly towards the end of the Heian period, in the 11th and 12th centuries. Gongen were a focus of worship and devotion associated particularly with pre-Meiji Yamabushi (mountain ascetics) but the Yamabushi system was virtually destroyed and gongen given “shinto” names as part of the shinbutsu bunri campaign. Examples of kami as gongen include kompira dai-gongen and Akiha-gongen. Hachiman was regarded as a gongen of Amida Buddha and Tokugawa, Ieyasu as Tosho-dai-gongen (at Nikko). Other notable shrines designed as gongen were Atsuta, Yoshino and Kumano.

Goryo-also onryo. Unquiet or vengeful spirits, typically who have died violently or unhappily and without appropriate rites. Unless pacified, normally by Buddhist rites but exceptionally by enshrinement as a kami they may haunt or inflict suffering on the living. A belief in goryo or onryo and the necessity to pacify them under lies much traditional and modern Japanese religion and is a favorite theme of the new religions, many of which aim to reinforce ancestor-reverence. The pacification of ancestors is also seen as a form of purification, an expulsion of evil and an expression of filial piety, thus answering to magical, soteriological and moral dimensions of the Japanese religious tradition.

Gozu tenno-lit. “ox-head emperor.” The popular Buddhist name of the purifying kami Susa-no-o-no-mikoto, tutelary deity of the Gion shrine and Gion matsuri. He is regarded as a gongen of Yakushi-nyorai the healing Buddhis and therefore a protector against disease and pestilence. Gozu literally means ox-headed (just as oxford means an oxford) but in Buddhist tradition it is also the name of a religious mountain in China (niu-t’ou), and India (Goshirsha or Malaya).

Hachiman- [Daibosatsu]-one of the most popular Japanese deities, traditionally regarded as the god of archery and war, in which context he is referred to as Yumiya Hachiman or “bow and arrow Hachiman” and symbolized by bow and arrows, Yumidai. Hachiman is worshipped at tens of thousands of bunsha of the Kyoto Iwa-shimizu Hachiman-gu and of the original Usa Hachimangu in Kyushu, which enshrines the legendary 15th Emperor and culture hero Ojin (Ojin Tenno), Ojin’s wife Himegami and his mother, the warlike empress Jingu. Jingu is credited with invading Korea at the end of the 2nd century. These three together constitute Hachiman, but he is generally thought of simply as the emperor Ojin. The name Hachiman means eight “flags”, or possibly “eight fields”, the figure eight occurs repeatly in the myths associated with Hachiman and he is sometimes symbolized by eight flags. One etymology identifies “hachi-man” as the Sino-Japanese reading of “Ya-wata” or “Ya-hata”, the name of a kami who in the 6th century revealed himself in the form of a three year old child to the soul of Ojin, though the identification of Hachiman with Ojin probably occurred as late as the 9th century more certainly Usa Hachiman was the first kami to be given the Buddhist title of dai-bosatsu (great bodhisattva) sometime between 765 and 791, and he is also regarded as an incarnation (gongen) of Amida Buddha. It was an oracle allegedly from the Usa Hachiman which suggested in the late 8th century that the Rasputin-like Buddhist monk Dokyo should become emperor in place of the descendants of Amaterasu, but when checked by a court official sent to Kyushu the oracle was reported to be false, and Ookyo fell from grace. Early in the Heian period the Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu was established to the south-west of Kyoto as a bunsha of Usa for the imperial family to revere its ancestral kami. The Minamoto clan regarded Hachiman as their clan deity and the first shogun. Minamoto, when he moved the capital to Kamkura. Hachiman is linked with Kasuga and Amaterasu in the Sanja takusen oracles. Hachiman can be found iconographically represented both as a male deity of war and as a Buddhist priest.

Hachioji-or hachi-dai-oji. The “eight [great] princes.” A term used to describe five male and three female children who according to different Kojiki and Nihongi versions of the myth were produced by Amaterasu and Susa-no-o crunching, chewing or biting on swords and jewels.

Hi-no-kami-kami of fire in general, sometimes identified with Homusubi no kami but including Buddha-Taoist deities such as Kojin the “rough deity” or god of the heath who can control fires and who was the focus of a popular medieval cult.

Hiru-ko-no-kami-or hiru-ko-no-mikoto. The meaning of his name is unclear, he is in Aston’s translation of the Nihongi, the underdeveloped “leech child” born to Izanagi and Izanami and then abandoned. He is worshipped in some shrines under the name Hiru-ko and much more popularly at Ebisu.

Hoso-shin-the kami of smallpox. This deity, associated with the gods of boundaries spreads smallpox rather than offering protection against it, and it was traditionally chased away b placing an effigy at the boundary of the village. Smallpox is no longer the threat it used to be in Japan and the deity is associated with contagious diseases in general.

Hotei-a deity of contentment and abundance, Taoist in origin. He is one of the shichi-fuku-jin, seven gods of good luck.

Hotoke-Buddha. Ancestral spirit. A term written with the character used for butsu (the Buddha) but generally meaning the souls of ancestors who after a period of time and the proper rituals “because Buddha” (hotoke ni naru “to become Buddha” is a polite term for dying). Hotoke are either ancestors of one’s family or muen-bo-toke (“unrelated ghosts”). In either case appropriate memorial rituals are required in order to pacify the spirits and avoid the possibility that by neglect a spirit may become an onryo or a hungry ghost of the kind epitomized by Sugawara, Michizane. Since hotoke beliefs (i.e. ancestor rites) are common to virtually every religion in Japan even “pure” shinto funerals such as those developed after the Meiji period have to incorporate memorial rites for a proper period.

Inari-A popular deity of rice harvest and, in modern times, business success. Inari is named after his (or her) original location of Mount Inari just outside Kyoto, at the foot of which has developed the chief Inari shrine, the Fushimi Inari taisha. Officially comprising five deities (the Inari-go-sha-sai-myojin), Inari is closely associated with his/her messenger the fox, o-kitsure-san, who is sometimes seen as separate but usually identified as Inari. Inari first acquired prestige as a protector deity of the Tojiji and other Buddhist temples and retains a high standing amongst the corporate business community in Japan. Inari shrines including Fushimi feature long avenues of red torii, each donated by a company to secure prosperity. As well as major and minor branch shrines of Fushimi such as the Anamori-Inari-jinja in Tokyo (Haneda) there are numerous independent Inari shrines which have risen following revelations by the kami. Inari continues to be worshipped in some Buddhist temples such as the Toyokawa Kakumyo gonji.

Ji-nushi-gami-literally “landlord kami.” The deity associated with an area of land. Similar to tochigami, ta no kami, ji gami.

Jigami-land-kami. A term used in western Japan, similar to jinushigame or tochigami. It refers to the enshrined spirit of a village founder or one who first cultivates the land in a particular area. The shrine is usually located in a corner or border of a field. In some cases ancestors are thought to become jigami. Jigami may also be equated with ta no kami.

Jurojin-a Taoist deity of longevity, in Japan one of the shichifukujin.

Kado-mori-no-kami-guardians of the shrine gates, i.e. of the kami.

Kaijin-sea kami enshrined in boats, shrines and sometimes in kamidana.

Kamadogami-also Kamado no kami. The kami of the Kamado, the cooking-stove or fire, who protects the home and family. He is widely worshiped throughout Japan with a miniature shrine in the latchen. This kami is variously identified with named kami including okitsuhiko and okitsu hime, i.e. the prince and princess of indoors, who are also agricultural kami. Kamadogami, is also identified with Kojin and referred to as o-kama-sama (cooking-pot-deity).

Kannon-Kannon-sama (in Chinese: Kuan-Yin, in Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara) the bodhisattva of compassion, is the most popular bosatsu in Japan as indeed throughout east Asia. She is female, is widely associated with child birth (a notable exception to the general rule in Japan of “born shinto, die Buddhist”) and takes many different forms, according to need, including in pre-Meiji times being identified with kami. The new religious movement sekai kyusei-kyo was founded by Okada, Mokichi as a consequence of possession by Kannon.

Kappa-the kappa is an amphibious water-dwelling spirit creature well known in Japanese folklore. He is sometimes regarded as a manifestation of the water-deity suijin and needs to be propitiated with rites and offerings. He prefers still, muddy water but may live in the sea. The kappa is variously described and represented in folk art as a scaly, dark blue creature somewhat like a 3-4 year old boy with a pointed face, web bed and sharp-clawed hands and feet and thick hair. The most significant feature of a kappa however is the saucer-shaped depression on his head which holds water. If the water dries up while the kappa is on land he dies, just as crops dies if the supply of water fails.

Kasuga (daimyojin)-the kami variously enshrined Kasuga (in the city of Nara) constituted initially the Ujigami of the pre-eminently powerful Fujiwara clan, many of whom became members of the imperial line. Kasuga eventually became the Ujigami of the entire province of Yamato. Kasuga was also the protector of the Hosso lineage of Buddhism. From about the 11th century until the forced dissociation of kami and Buddhas (shinbutsu bunri) in 1868, Kasuga was identified as a composite divinity, Kasuga Daimyojin, whose cult embraced both the Kasuga shrine and the neighboring kofukuji Buddhist temple in a single indivisible shrine-temple complex overseen by the kofukuji monks. In Kasuga daimyojin the kami were correlated with Buddhist divinities including Kannon, Yokushi and Jizo. The expansion of the many shrines and temples of this cultic center gave rise to the city of Nara. From its beginnings as a private Fujiwara and then imperial cult, Kasuga became popular from the late Heian period onwards through the construction in its grounds of the wakamiya shrine and its annual on-matsuri festival which formed part of the wakamiya Shinto-Buddhist cult and was open to outsiders. Many branch shrines of Kasuga were eventually established. The emblem of the shrine is the deer, herds of which are still kept in the grounds. In pictures Kasuga is represented riding a deer. The pine tree painted on the backdrop of every Noh stage is the pine tree at Kasuga in which the kami manifested in dance. In the Sanja takusen oracles Kasuga is associated with Amaterasu and Hachiman.

Kawaya no kami- the kami of the toilet. The deity comprises male (ground) and female (water) deities born from the excretion and urine of Izanami. This deity is sometimes invoked for help with gynecological illness and ailments of the eyes and teeth.

Kenzoku-a Buddhist term (translating Sanskrit parivara, parshad) meaning one’s dependant’s household or retinue. It refers to kami who are subordinate to the main kami. They may be worshipped separately as mi-ko-gami (“offspring-kami”) in a waka-miya of the major shrine or enshrined elsewhere as village kami.

Ketsuen-shin-a blood-relation kami. A kami which is worshipped by a group linked by “blood”, which in practice, because of marriage and regular adoption of sons or daughters into the household means a group which regards itself as one kinship group. It resembles the early Japanese ujigami belief.

Kojin-or kojin-sama-literally “rough god”, though he has also a nigi-mitama nature, manifested in healing. His Buddhist name is sambo kojin (“Kojin of the three treasures”) and according to tradition he was first worshipped by the founder of shugen do, En-no-Ozunu. He is identified with Kamado-gami (god of the hearth, the heart of the home) and presides over the kitchen where he is also known as Yakatsu-kami and may receive a monthly offering of a branch of pine known as kojin-matsu. When enshrined outside he is equated with jigami (land kami) or with yama-no-kami (mountain kami). Kojin may also possess mediums and is invoked in healing illness of various kinds.

Kompira-or Konpira. A Buddhist deity until the Meiji period now technically a kami (o-mono-nushi), kompira is widely venerated for safety at sea and is the protector of sailors, travelers, fishermen and shipping companies who are its ujiko. The name kompira-in full kompira dai-gongen, the pre-Meiji name of the deity-probably reflects the Sanskrit kumbhira which is also the name of one of the Buddhist “12 heavenly generals” of the Yakushi-kyo, the “medicine-master sutra”. Kompira’s main shrine is the Kotohira-gu of Kagawa prefecture Shikoku, and its great annual festival is held on October 9-12th featuring a mikoshi parade late at night on 10th. Sailors in trouble used to (and perhaps still do) throw into the sea a small barrel (nagashi no taru) of offerings to the kami, for the finder to take to the shrine. Amongst other bunsha, a kotchira-gu of the Shikoku shrine was established in Tokyo (Minato-ku) in 1660.

Konjin-“metal spirit”. In onmyo (yin-yang) cosmology metal is the element associated with the west and corresponds to the number seven. Traditionally regarded as a dangerous Taoist deity, Konjin the “killer of seven” occupies certain directions once every five years (i.e. 12 times in the 60-year cycle of “stems and branches”). A Chinese text declared that if Kojin were offended he would kill seven people. If the member of one’s own family were not sufficiently numerous, he would make up the number with the people next door. Directional taboos (kata-imi) associated with konjin and other directional deities were a preoccupation of the Heian nobility, and beliefs about dangerous directions and the wisdom of circumventing danger by traveling in auspicious directions (eg. At hatsu-mode) remain in Japan today. In spite of his fearsome reputation konjin revealed himself through Deguchi, Nao of omoto-kyo and through Kawate, Bunjiro, founder of konko-kyo to be the benevolent parent-deity.

Kono-hana-sakwya-hime-“princess who makes the blossoms of the trees to flower”. The kami (widely known as sengen) enshrined on Mt. Fuji. She is the consort of Nihigi, the grandson of Amaterasu.

Koshin-koshin-sama is a popular and powerful deity variously identified with the kami of agriculture (ta no kami), of soil (jigami), of travel (dosojin) and of craftsmanship. He is of Taoist origin, has a Buddhist identity as the gongen of the messenger of India, seimen kongo and as in official shinto identity in the minds of ordinary people. Koshin refers both to the day, koshin, monkey-day, the 57th in the Chinese 60-day. 60-year cycle and to the deity, koshin-sama, who protects people on this when the three worms (sanshi) black, green and white while inhabit the body ascend to heaven during sleep and report on their host’s sins to the heavenly emperor. Koshin is worshipped by koshin-ko believers who meet together six times a year on koshin day to perform rites, discuss religious and village affairs and stay up all night. Remaining awake was originally a form of Taoist abstention and in this case is a device to avoid one’s spirit “worms” being taken away for judgement while asleep. In addition, koshin is credited with innumerable different roles and functions in Japanese popular religion, especially the healing of specific illnesses.

Koto-shiro-nushi-no-kami-“sign master kami,” also yae-koto-shiro-nushi “eight fold thing sign-master”. A kami, son of o-kuni-nushi, mentioned in the Kokiji and Nihongi who is credited with bringing peace to the land and who when first heard of is the kami, and how effectively they are propitiated by rites and mastsure. Whereas the anti-social deity Susano-o performs destructuve actions he is a “heavenly” kami and enshrined as the purifying deity Gozu tenno of Gion. However, the magatsuhi-no-kami seem to be consistently evil, they emanate from the lower world of yomi and were identified by Motoori, Norinaga as the source of everything in life that is bad and unfortunate. Their counterpart, however, is the Naobi-no-kami, born immediately after the magatsuhi, who repair the damage caused by the magatsuhi and restore purity.

Majinai-broadly “magic”, a collective term for means such as talismans, mantras, and rites which people try to manipulate events and influence spirits, either to bring good luck or ward off harm (sawari), curses (tatari) diseases or other calamity.

Marebito-supernatural guests, possibly ancestors, who arrive from tokoyo, conceived of as a miraculous land across the sea, to infuse the land with power at New Year. Remnants of belief in marebito survive in folk dances and mimes and they share some of the characteristics of the horned, straw-coated namahage of northern Japan and the toshidon of the south. They are part of a “horizontal” cosmological structure in which kami, like ancestral spirits at bon, are believed to come from, and return to, a place over land or across the sea rather than from another world vertically above or below this one. Boundary deities (saeno kami, etc.) as well as deities of good fortune such as Ebisu and Daikoku also belong in the general category of marebito as deities who come “from the outside” and are invoked for special purposes.

Mi-itsu-a traditional name for “Emperor”. The etymology could be “August Gate” or “Great Place.” In the Meiji period it was replaced by Chinese-derived terms such as Tenshi (son of heaven). Tenno or ten-o (Heavenly emperor) and shujo “Supreme Master.”

Mi-ko-gami-“Honorable offspring kami.” -the kami who are “children” of the principle kami worshipped at a shrine. They are part of the Kenzoku (retinue, family) of a major kami. Susano-o at the Yasaka Jinja (Gion, guzu tenno) has eight mi-kogami who are worshipped with him.

Mi-megumi-megumi means a blessing, grace or favor. The honorific form mi-megumi is used when referring to a blessing from the kami or a superior.

Misogi-harai-no-kami-“kami of purification.” The kami produced by Izanagi’s purification (misogi) following his visit to yomi. They are often worshipped collectively at the entrance to large shrines.

Mi-tama no fuyu- the blessing of a kami, or spirit (tama) of a kami, literally, the return of a request for a favor.

Mizugami-suijin, the water deity. Mono-object, entity. Used anciently to refer to spirits of animals and other lower entities.

Munakata-no-kami-a group of three important female kami (tagori-hime, tagitsu-hime and icikishima-hime). They are worshipped in the Munakata-taisha, Fukwoka, which consists of three shrines, one on the mainland and two on the islands of Okino-shima and Oshima, as well as in the Itsukushima-jinja, the Ichikishimei-jinja on Miyajima and many thousands of other related shrimes established by the bunrei of the main shrine. Hachiman in his role as a sea kami is closely associated with Munakata.

Musubi-no-kami-the kami of Musubi. Musubi is an ancient term interpreted in modern shinto theology to mean the spirit of birth, becoming, accomplishment, combination, harmonization and growth. The kami if musubi include ho-musubi-no-kami (fire musubi kami), waka-musubi (young musubi), iku-musubi (life musubi) and taru-musubi (plentiful musubi). The deities taka-mi-musubi-no-kami (exalted musubi kami) and kami-musubi-no-kami (sacred musubi-kami) are two of the “three” deities of creation. The other is Ame-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami. These three according to the Kojiki account were responsible for the birth and growth of all things.

Myojin-“bright kami”, divinity. Often daimyojin “great divinity”. One of the shrine ranks bestowed by the Yoshida before the Meiji period. The term generally indicates a combined Buddha or bosatsu and kami.

Myoken-“wondrous seeing” (Sanskrit: sudrshti), a deity widely revered in shrines before the Meiji period as myoken bosatsu the female diminished form of the Pole Star and the Great Bear constellation who was believed to protect the country, avert disaster, lengthen the life-span and (because of the name) cure eye diseases. In Japanese she is also known as sonjo-o “revered star ruler.” Myoken shrines were widely “shinto-ised” after the Meiji restoration and the deity replaced by the officially-favored zoka no kami or with the name hoshi or pole-star as in the current chichibu-yo-matsuri. The myoken-sai on November 17-18th at Yatsushiro jinja, Kumamoto features a kida, a 6-meter long turtle’s body with a snake’s head.

Namahage-namahage are fearsome visitors (usually young men) with straw capes (mino) and horned demon masks who visit houses in northern Japan around the new year (shogatsu) period. They carry a teoke (wooden pail) and a debabocho (kitchen knife), bringing blessings and threatening children against idleness and bad behavior. They are welcomed with sake and fish as honored guests. Variant forms are called amahage or amamehagi. In the south (kyushu) there is a similar custom called toshidon.

Namazu-the catfish. The earthquake kami, nai-no-kami was “sealed down” by the great warrior kami Take-mika-zuchi-no-kami and is kept under a stone iwasaka in what is now a small himorogi enclosure called kaname-ishi at the Kashima jinju, Chiba. However, everybody knows that earthquakes are really caused by the underground writhings of a huge namazu or catfish, smaller cousins of whom can be discovered under stones in muddy pools.

O-kuni-nushi [no-mikoto]- the kami master of the Great Land. The much-married son of Susa-no-o, he has numerous other names including Daikoku, and is equated with Kompira. In the kojiki and Nihongi myths he has to undergo a series of ordeals, overcoming various natural forces such as fire, death, jealously and lifeless matter in order to “animate” the land and make it habitable.

Onryo-angry sprits. An official and popular belief in angry spirits developed early in Japan. Their most common form is as mu-en-botoke “unconnected hotoke” (ancestors), those who have died but had or have no one to perform the Buddhist rites to enable them to leave the world. A belief in the power of angry spirits, the need to pacify them with appropriate reverence that this lays upon the descendants in a favorite theme of Japanese religions, including many of the new religious movements. One way of pacifying angry spirits, exemplified in the case of Tenjin, is to promote them by enshrinement as kami.

Raijin-a general term for the kami of thunder, and by extension for rain (in times of drought). The deities are believed to manifest in the form of a serpent or child. The best-known is Ryujin the dragon-god, a Chinese and Buddhist deity who is worshipped in a number of shinto shrines. Another Buddhist deity Karaijin or Karaishin is the deity of lightning. In the Kanto area there is a tradition of erecting a shimenawa strung between green bamboos when lightning strikes a rice field, to record the beneficence of this deity. Various shrines are dedicated to the thunder or rain deity. Under the name of kamo-wake-ikazuchi-no-kami.

Riyaku-benefits, commonly referred to honorifically as go-riyaku. “Genzeriyaku” specifics “this-worldly benefits” (as against e.g. salvation after death). Go-riyaku may include spiritual power and protection gained from kami or Buddhas by religious practices such as prayer, or may mean to specific beneficial functions performed by a particular kami.

Ryujin-the dragon-deity. A Chinese and Buddhist deity worshipped in a number of Shinto shrines and associated with water. His undersea or other worldly realms is ryugu, the palace of the dragon. He is widely involved as a benevolent family or village oracle.

Sae/sai no kami-or sai no kami. “Sae” has the meaning of “to block” and sae no kami are deities of the boundary. This kami is represented by a large rock and is believed to prevent evil spirits and malign influences entering the village at crossroads. He is found in the Kojiki, at the boundary between the world of the living and the dead, and between the sexes, hence sae no kami’s association with procreation and fertility as well as village boundaries. He is popularly associated as the guardian deity of boundaries and children, with the bosatsu Jizo, widely venerated as the protector of mizuko (aborted or miscarried fetuses) in modern Japan.

Sanjuban-shin-30 named kami, one for each day in the month, identified by the Tendai sect of Buddhism in the Heian period. The idea seems to have begun with the famous Tendai monk Ennin (792-862). The deities are believed to protect the nation, and those who keep the Buddhist Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo). They are particularly emphasized by Nichiren Buddhists.

Sanno-“mountain-king”. It refers to sanno gongen the pre-Meiji name of the guardian deity of Mt. Hiei north-east of Kyoto, site of the great temple-shrine complex formed around the Tendai Buddhist Enryaku-ji originally founded by Saicho (Dengyo Daishi). The mountain deity is onamuchi (another name for okuni-nushi) of the eastern shrine or oyamakui or yama-sue-no-o-nushi of the western shrine of the Hiyoshi or Hietaisha on Mt. Hiei, and is also identified with Amaterasu. Hietaisha is the head shrine of nearly 40 thousand Hie branch shrines throughout Japan.

Saruda-hiko-or saruta-hiko. A deity with a “high” divine form, as for example revered by Yamazaki,Ansai in Suiga shinto. He is believed to have guided the first emperor Ninigi, grandson of Amaterasu. He is much more popularly represented in festival processions and elsewhere as a deity of roads, particularly crossroads, and procreation by a grotesque usually vermillion mask with a huge protruding nose.

Senzo-a general term for ancestors.

Shakyamuni/Shaka Buddha-the name of the Buddha who appeared as a human being in India. One of the major “cosmic” Buddhas of Mahayana Buddhism. In Japan, he is the central Buddha of the Lotus Sutra (Hokekyo) particularly revered by the Tendai and Nichiren sects.

Shichi-fuku-jin-seven good luck gods. The seven gods of good fortune. Of widely different origins, they are commonly represented sitting together in a treasure boat to symbolize coming prosperity and are particularly popular at New Year. They are: Ebisu, Daikoku-ten, Bishamonten, Fuku-roku-ju, Jurojin, Ben [zai] ten, Hotei. The shishi-fuku-jin mai, a cosmic new year’s dance with participants wearing masks of the seven gods is held in several parts of Fukushima, north-eastern Japan in mid-January. There are several pilgrimage routes based on the shichifukujin taking in shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.

Shikon-the four tama (spirits).

Shinbutsu shugo-“amalgamation of Buddhas and kami.” A rather vague term applied to the syncretism or synthesis of Buddhism with local religious practices from the Nara period onwards. In line with its assimilative philosophy Buddhism adopted local spirits as “protectors” of Buddhism, including them in Buddhist rites and soon identifying them as devas or “trace manifestations”, avatars or local incarnations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Shunbutsu shugo suggests a rather unconscious syncretism between two pre-existing traditions and is often contrasted with specific schools of combinatory thought such as ryobu shinto and sanno-ichijitsu-shinto and the theory of honji-suijaku from which, some shintoist believe, an ancient and indigious shinto later freed itself. However, the amalgamation or assimilation of local or imported kami with Buddhist divinities was often deliberate and detailed, and is consistent with the pattern of religious syncretism characteristic of the Buddhist tradition throughout south and east Asia. Adoption as Buddhist objects of worship identification with eminent Buddhist divinities was the means by which local kami eventually achieved a relatively high spiritual status within the Japanese world-view.

Shinmei-literally “sacred brightness”. A term used for kami or deities in general and for Amaterasu omikami enshrined at the Ise Jingu and its branch “shinmei-sha” shrines.

Shintaizan-“mountain” shintai. Also called kami-yama. A number of sacred mountain function as shintai and their shrines therefore lack a honden. An example is Mt. Miwa, the shintaizan of Omiwa Jinja, where the mountain is an example of a kinsoku-chi or “confined place” which forms part of the shrine. In other cases where the mountain is recognized as the kami of a shrine, a man-made shintai is the shrine may act as a substitute for the mountain. The idea of the mountain as kami may be connected with ta-no-kami and yama-no-kami beliefs.

Sukuna-hikona-no-kami-renounced little-prince kami. According to the myths, the helper of o-kuni-nushi in his “animating” of the land. He is worshipped as the deity of medicine and curative springs and identified as yakushi-bosatsu-myojin (yakushi is the healing Buddha). As a kami who helped man time and other trade he was installed as a main kami in shrines built in several areas conquered by the Japanese before 1945 such as Hokkaido, Sakhalin and Taiwan.

Susa-no-o [no-mikoto]- the “brother” of Amaterasu, born from the nose of Izanagi during his lustrations in a stream following his narrow escape from the underworld. Susa-no-o is the “impetuous male.” Storm-god, author of various boorish and tabooed actions directed against Amaterasu, which cause her to retreat into a cave from which the other “heavenly deities” then devise a means of luring her out. Despite, or because of, his propensity to inflict disaster Susa-no-o is regarded as a protector against calamity, as in the Gion matsuri, held at the most important Susa-no-o temple, the Yasaka jinja in Kyoto. There are about 3,000 shrines in Japan established with the bunrei of Yasaka jinja, where Susa-no-o is identified with Gozu tenno, the ox-headed emperor. He is worshipped under a variety of other names which connect him mainly with forestry and agriculture. There are only a dozen shrines, such as the Susa Jinja in Shimane, which revere him under the name Susa-no-o.

Suwa- (1) two kami. Takeminakatatomi no mikoto and Yasa Katomeno, of lake Suwa in Nagano prefecture are enshrined at Suwa taisha and Suwa branch shrines throughout Japan. (2) The Suwa clan who were the hereditary priestly family of the Suwa taisha. They were warrior-subjects (gokenin) of the Kamakura bakufu and in the Jokyu revolt of 1221 fought with the bakufu against the rebellious ex-emperor Go-Toba, who was subsequently exiled to the island of Oki. The main festival of the Suwa taisha is the o-fure-matsuri (boat festival) celebration on February 1st and again on August 1st. A scarecrow-like symbol of the kami is taken from one shrine to another in an 8 ton “boat” or raft of brushwood drawn on a sledge (it was previously carried). While in progress the kami looks at the rice fields. The Suwa jinja in Nagasaki which hosts the Karatsu-kunchi is said to have a special role in coping with the spread of Christianity in the area.

Take-mika-zuchi-no-kami-the warrior-hero kami who according to the Nihongi was sent with a companion Futsu-nushi-no-kami to destroy the malignant kami and pacify the “center land of reed-plains” before it was taken over by the heavenly kami. Take-mika-zuchi is enshrined at the Kashima jingu, Chiba, and Futsu-nushi (as Iwai-nushi-no-kami) at the nearby Katori jingu, Ibaraki. Both kami are widely worshipped throughout Japan.

Tama-tama has two meanings, depending on the character with which it is written. One character for tama also pronounced “gyoku” means precious jewel, as in tamagaki the “jewel-fence” surrounding a shrine or tamagushi a branch offering. The more common meaning of tama in a shinto context is spirit. Tama is an entity which resides in something to which it gives life and vitality, whether this is human, animal or natural feature, etc. Disembodied, the tama may be a kami or aspect of a kami, or a spirit of an ancestor or other dead person. The honorific form is mi-tama or go-rei. Tama is a key and variously interpreted term in the spiritual psychologies related to shinto, and various kinds and functions of spirit have been distinguished. Shikon, the “four tama” for example are (1) ara-mitama, a violent or coercive spirit and (2) nigi-mitama, a gentle and pacifying spirit which has two aspects, namely (3)saki-mitama which imparts blessings and (4) kushi-mitama which causes mysterious transformations. Mitama-shiro is the representation or seat of a spirit, i.e. a sacred object through which a kami is worshipped, a shintai. Tama-furi refers to spiritual exercises. Tama-shizume is ceremony to prevent the soul from leaving the body. Tama-yori-hime is a maiden in whom the spirit of a kami dwells. Kuni-tama is the spirit of the land.

Ta-no-kami-the kami of the rice fields, i.e. kami of agriculture, known throughout Japan under different regional names, in Tohoku Nogami, in Nakano and Yamanashi sakugami, in the Kyoto-Osaka area tsukuri-kami, in the Inland Sea area jigami, in Kyushu Ushigami. Ta-no-kami in generally thought to descend from heaven or the mountains in spring and to return in the autumn, and is often identified with yama-no-kami. In eastern Japan, ta-no-kami may be identified with Ebisu, and in the west with Daikoku.

Tanuki-spirit-creature similar to a mischievous racoon or badger who can change into a human being or a flask of sake.

Tenjin-“heavenly deity”. This honorific tile is universally understood to refer to the defied spirit of the scholar and eminent imperial advisor Sugawara, Michizane (845-903), head of the Sugawara clan. He was unjustly banished to the governorship of Kyusku in 901 as the result of slander by the empress brother, a Fujiwara, and instead of taking up his government duties retired to Dazaifu to write poetry, where he died protesting his innocence two years later. A series of disasters at the capital and the sudden deaths of his former enemies were interpreted as vengeful acts of Michizane’s unquiet spirit, goryo or onryo. In an attempt to pacify his spirit he was posthumously pardoned, promoted in rank and eventually enshrined with titles including Tenman, Kitano dai myojin and the highest possible rank of Tenjin “heavenly kami”. By the 12th century he was identified with Kannon bosatsu. As an exemplar of literary skills he is now petitioned by parents and children as a kami of educational success, gokaku. He is enshrined at Daizifu and at thousands of other kitano tenjin shrines, most called tenman-gu.

Tenno-(1) “heavenly king”. An epithet of Taoist origin traditionally applied to kami or Buddhist divinities, in a shinto context it almost always means Gozu tenno. This is the popular “Buddhist” name of the kami Susano-o-no-mikoto, tutelary deity of the Gion shrine (or Yasaka jinja, Kyoto) who is regarded as a gongen of Yakushi-nyorai the healing Buddha and therefore a protector against disease. (2) Either of two terms (written with a different second character) usually translated “emperor” and applied to the Monarch. As an imperial epithet tenno was introduced (replacing okimi) around the time of Shotoku Taishi (572-622) who was largely responsible for the establishment of Buddhism as the religion of a reformed Japanese state which was to be administered under the Chinese (Confucian) system of government. The term tenno was replaced in the Tokugawa period by Tenshi, another Confucian epithet meaning “Son of Heaven” and reinstated in the Meiji period with a different second character to mean “emperor”, hence tennosei, the pre-war “emperor system.”

Toshigami-[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. 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 honored guest. The kami may appear as an elderly couple or be represented, as in Kagoshima, southern Kyushu, by young men disguised white-bearded old men who like the toshidon distribute rice cakes (mochi) to children. A special alter 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).

Toshitokujin-a goodess of lucky directions.

Tosho daigongen-the Great Avatar Illuminating the East. Posthumous designation of the spirit of Tokugawa, Ieyasu enshrined at the Nikko Tosho-gu.

Toyo-uke no kami-or Toyo-uke-hime. The kami enshrined in the geku (“outer shrine”) of the Ise jingu. The identity of this kami, is hard to clarify. She is the food-kami, also the mother or parents (Izanagi and Izanami) of Amaterasu (who is enshrined in the Naiku), and a manifestation of Ame-no-minaka-nushi. According to the shinto gobusho she and Amaterasu are “the kami” of Ise and not personified separately. As an agricultural deity and the kami of the geku administered by the Watarai family Toyo-uke became the focus of popular pilgrimage to Ise.

Tsuki-yomi-the moon kami, “born” from Izanagi’s right eye just after Amaterasu was born from the left eye. He is seldom mentioned after this. Despite being the “brother” of Amaterasu, and perhaps because of the sound-association of tsuki-yomi (?moon-reader) with yomi the land of the dead, he is not popularly worshipped as a separate kami, but was in pre-Meiji times regarded as the gongen of Amida Buddha.

Ubusuna no kami-Ubusuna means literally birth-ground, place of birth. The ubusuna [no kami] is the kami of the place in which one was born.

Ujigami-the kami of an Uji, “clan”, “community”. In practice more or less interchangeable with ubusuna, the kami of one’s birthplace, though ujigami carries mainly the sense of ancestor or “parent” kami. The ujigami is the protective or tutelary deity of a defined group of people. This may mean a clan, lineage or most commonly now the village or local community, though especially in modern urban Japan with constant rebuilding and a relatively mobile population the local community around a shrine may not be coterminous with the ujiko. The majority of shinto matsuri are those performed at an ordinary local shrine for the ujigami by its ujiko (or ubuko) “children of the uji”, the people who carry an obligation to support and maintain the shrine and take part in its activities. Numerous small shrines simply enshrine the ujigami or ubusuna of the place, with no further name. Famous shrines also attract as their ujiko pilgrims from a wide area, often through branch shrines (bunsha). The Ise shrine claims (though no longer officially) the whole nation as its ujiko through its identification with the Imperial line.

Umi no kami-or Kaijin. Kami of the sea. The deity popularity associated with the sea and lakes is the Taoist dragon-deity ruijin whose palace (ryugu) lies beneath the waves and can be identified with Tokoyo. Since the sea figures largely in Japanese life there are many other kami connected with the sea and safety at sea who are worshipped as kaijin. These include the sumiyoshi kami, Munakata-no-kami, Ebisu, Hachiman and fuda-dama.

Yama-no-kami-mountain-kami. One meaning is a mountain deity worshipped by those whose work takes them into mountain areas (traditionally hunters, charcoal-burners and woodcutters), in which case the deity is identified with oyama-tsumi or kono-hana-saku-ya-hime. Another meaning is the kami of agriculture and growth who descends from the mountain and is worshipped as ta-no-kami or kami of the rice fields.

Yao-yorozu-no-kami-the 80 myriads of kami, also interpreted as “the ever-increasing myriad kami.” A term for all the kami of Japan.

Yashikigami-House kami, and the name of the miniature shrine in which the kami resides. The shrine is kept in an auspicious location in the grounds or courtyard of a large rural house, in contrast to kamidana which are far more commonly found and are normally inside. The yashikigami is closely identified with ancestors of the household and spirit of the land. Daily offerings (shinsen) may be made to the yashikigami. Like the chinju no kami it may come to be regarded as an ujigami, especially where only the largest house in a village has an yashikigami. In some villages it is the custom to have a yashikigami in each house.

Zoka no kami-the kami of creation. A me-no-minaka-nushi-no-kami and the two deities taka-mi-musubi-no-kami (exalted musubi kami) and kami-musubi-no-kami (sacred musubi kami) and the “three deities of creation” (zoka no sanshin) who according to the Kojiki account popularized after the Meiji restoration were responsible for the birth and growth of all things. These three deities came to prominence especially in sect shinto theology of the Meiji period and were regarded as highly orthodox deities.

Zuijin-“attendant deities”. Warrior-type guardians, often carrying bows and arrows. As protector of shrine gates they are known as kado-mori-no-kami. They are also associated with dosojin, protector of crossroads and other boundary areas.

Izanagi and Izanami-the divine couple, brother and sister “inviting male and inviting female” who according to the myth cycles recorded in the Nihongi and Kojini were the 7th generation of kami, and by discovering sexual union gave birth both to the land of Japan and its people. Izanami dies giving birth to the fire god and becomes a goddess in the underworld (yomi). With the aid of magic practices Izanagi tries to follow her to the underworld where he encounters Izanami’s decayed and putrefying body. He escapes from her pursuit, placing a rock between the world of the living and the dead. During his purification in a stream many other kami are born from parts of his clothing, including Amaterasu from his left eye and Susa-no-o from his nose.