Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
 main menu
  »New EOS site

  »Home

  »Foreword

  »Guide to Usage

  »Contributors & Translators

  

  »Movies List
 Links

Concepts of Kami


(1) 2 »

§ Definitions and Typology

A. DefinitionsThroughout history, numerous attempts have been made to define the term kami, since the early commentary Man'yōshū chūshaku (Sengakushō) by the Tendai priest Sengaku (1203-?) in the early Kamakura period and the Jindai no maki kuketsu by Inbe no Masamichi in the pe...

Amatsukami, Kunitsukami

"Kami of heaven," "kami of earth." In general, Amatsukami refers to kami residing in the Plain of High Heaven (Takamanohara), together with those that were born in Takamanohara but later descended to the land of Japan. Kunitsukami, on the other hand, generally refers to those kami native to the ...

Banshin

A term referring to the ancestral kami (sojin) of peoples who came to Japan from foreign countries, or other deities forming the objects of their worship. Other terms which have been used to describe such "immigrant deities" include marōdokami, imaki no kami, and ebisukami. The first historica...

Boshijin

"Mother-child kami," a term used to refer to the joint enshrinement of a mother deity (boshin) and its child deity (mikogami). Also read hahakogami. The practice of such joint enshrinement is itself found widely from Eurasia through Southeast Asia and Oceania, and is thought to be linked to primiti...

Gairaishin

In general terms, a kami which has arrived "from outside." The expression itself, however, is very ambiguous, and is used in a variety of ways, with the result that it has not been fully accepted as an academic term. Historical usage, however, points generally to a tripartite classification, includ...

Gunshin

Other names: Ikusa no kami, Ikusa gami Originally, a tutelary kami of battle, similar to the Greco-Roman gods Ares and Mars. Numerous kami have been venerated in Japan as tutelaries of warfare, based on various interpretations of their personalities and characteristics. Ise Sadatake (1717-84) consi...

Haishi

The practice of enshrining kami as joint tutelaries alongside a shrine's primary object of worship (shushin or shusaijin); also, the kami so enshrined. Also called haisai or haikyō when referring to the practice, and haishishin or haishin when referring to the kami involved. The practice of di...

Haraedo

  The tutelary kami of a place (do) for the performance of purification (harae). The expression haraedo (alt. haraedono) is found in ancient works such as the Engishiki and the section on the Great Purification within the Jingiryō to refer to places used for the performance of formal public cere...

Himegami

A female kami ("goddess"). An extant fragment of the Tsukushi no kuni fudoki describes the three separate peaks of the mountain Kishimayama in the following way: "The peak to the southwest is called the hikogami (male-kami), the middle peak is called the himegami (female-kami), and the one to the n...

Hitorigami

A kami which came into being alone. This title is used to discriminate such kami from those that are described as coming into being as male-female pairs. According to Kojiki, Amenominakanushi, Takamimusuhi and Kamimusuhi, the so-called "three deities of creation" (zōkasanshin) together with th...

Kamurogi, Kamuromi

Terms referring generically to male and female ancestral kami (sojin). Examples can be found in the ShokuNihongi, Engishiki, norito, Nakatominoyogoto, Hitachinokuni fudoki, Izumonokuni fudoki, ShokuNihonkōki, and Kogoshūi. Commentators are agreed that the truncated kam means kami, while g...

Kotoamatsukami

"Separate heavenly kami," a name referring to the first five kami appearing in the Kojiki. The five include the "three kami of creation" (zōka sanshin), namely Amenominakanushi no kami, Takamimusuhi, and Kamimusuhi no kami, together with Umashiashikabihikoji no kami and Amenotokotachi no kami....

Mikogami

"Honorable-child-kami," a term used in the context of cults of parent-child deities to refer to the offspring kami (also called byōeishin). For example, the fragmentary Tsukushinokuni fudoki describes the three-peaked mountain of Kishimayama as follows: "the peak to the southwest is called the...

Mikoto

An honorific title affixed to the name of a kami or venerated person. While two Sino-Japanese characters ̿ and ºhave been used to express mikoto, the Nihongi states that "the character ºis used to extol the utmost in divine reverence, while ̿ is used to refer to others. Both are read mikoto."...

Myōjin

An archaic term used to refer to deities of particularly impressive power and virtue, as noted in Nihon sandai jitsuroku (863) by the expression myōja shinmei (lit., "divine-luminaries of eminent-shrines"). The term myōjin first occurs in a Shoku Nihongi entry for the year 730, where it s...

Saijin

A collective term referring to all the kami worshiped at a specific shrine or locale. Since it is generally believed that the objects of worship (shintai) in early Shinto were features of, or objects taken from the natural environment (mountains, rivers, ocean, rocks, etc.), the kami at most such l...

Shingō

A "divine title" affixed to the name of a kami. A wide variety of titles have come into use in accordance with the unique characteristics of kami, and as a result of historical changes in the way kami have been understood. In the ancient period, the title mikoto was used, while expressions such as ...

Shinshi

"Divine servant," usually an animal identified as the servant or familiar of a kami. Also called kami no tsukai or tsukawashime. Tales of special animals acting on behalf of kami to transmit the divine will, or to bear oracles are seen as early as Kojiki and Nihongi; in the latter, a huge snake is ...

Shushin

The principal or central kami among all those dedicated at a shrine (see saijin). Also called shusaijin, the term shushin is used to discriminate the main enshrined kami from other kami that may also be jointly enshrined (see haishi). A shrine may, however, have more than one shushin, in which case...

Sumegami

"Noble kami." Since the prefix sume means "revered," the term sumegami can be considered a general title of respect for kami. At the same time, since the same character sume is also used in terms such as "emperor" (tennō), the title tends to be used particularly to refer to imperial ancestr...



(1) 2 »


"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
Copyright ©2002-2006 Kokugakuin University. All rights reserved.
Ver. 1.3