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Basic Terms


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Shirasu

The meaning of "to possess, to rule and to govern." Shirasu is a compound of the verb shiru, to govern, with the honorific verbal suffix su. There are numerous examples of its use as shirashimesu and shiroshimesu, meaning "to rule, to govern." There are many examples in the Kojiki and Nihongi of sh...

Shurikosei

An expression in the Record of Ancient Matters (Kojiki) from the divine edict (shinchoku) proclaimed by the heavenly kami (amatsukami) to the two kami Izanagi and Izanami to create the islands of Japan: "Form and rule this floating, inchoate country." This expression is variously read as "create, r...

Sojin

Progenitor kami of a clan. Here a kami is not viewed as a transcendental being but rather is a concept within the genealogical relations of living people. A synonym of sojin is oyagami (parental deity), where oya does not necessarily refer to a progenitor but rather has a more general, comprehensiv...

Sorei

Ancestral spirits. The term is used frequently to refer to a soul that no longer possesses individual characteristics. As Yanagita Kunio has shown, for a certain period of time (thirty-three years in many cases) after death a soul receives memorial services and is called a shirei. This is distingui...

Takamanohara

Also pronounced as Takamagahara. It refers to the vast realm in the high heaven. It is the residence of kami presided over by Amaterasu. It constitutes one plain of a tripartite vertical "view of the cosmos" (sekaikan) in Shintō. Takamanohara is the upper world (uwatsukuni) in contrast to the ...

Tama

A general term for spirit or soul in ancient times. In addition to human spirit, it also refers to spirit or spiritual force in nature. A human soul is considered a spiritual entity that comes from outside and dwells in the body, endowing the individual with energy and personality. The word tamashi...

Tamashizume, Tamafuri

Tamashizume, or mitamashizume, means to pacify the spirit and settle it in the center of the body. Tamafuri, or mitamafuri, means to reinvigorate the withered soul by shaking a ritual object or, alternatively, the human body itself. It can also express the idea of "beckoning a spirit" into the body...

Tatari

Originally a condition wherein a spirit caused a calamitous condition, or an evil effect or a supernatural force that worked within that condition to punish human beings for their transgressions, malice, or neglect of religious duties. Later, when goryō shinkō ("belief in malevolent human...

Tenjō mukyū

This phrase means "everlasting like heaven and earth." It comes from part one, section one of the "Descent of the Heavenly Grandchild" (tenson kōrin) chapter in the Nihongi. There, Amaterasu gives the following command to her grandchild, Ninigi. "This land of reed-plain-of-fair-rice-ears-of-fi...

Tenson kōrin

Tenson kōrin refers to the mythic episode in which Amaterasu's grandchild, Ninigi, descended from Takamanohara to Takachiho Peak in Hyūga. The story is primarily recorded in the Kiki (Kojiki and Nihon shoki), Fudoki, and Sendai kuji hongi, among other texts, although variants are numerous...

Toga

An error. A synonym of tsumi. Toga may be written in Chinese characters as 롢ʡ and so on. The term appears in the liturgical address (norito) for Ōtonohogai (Palace Safety Liturgy) in the Engishiki: "If there are errors and offences (toga ayamachi), let us correct them." Nihon kokugo da...

Tohokamiemitame

In Chinese characters it is usually written as Ϳ¿(or ). The expression consists of five signs that are inscribed on a deer bone or turtle shell during "turtle shell divination" (kiboku), a practice that goes back to ancient times. The phrase is also used as a magical incantation, a...

Tokoyo

A term denoting "other world" (see View of the other world ) in folk religions and in Shintō. The locus of Tokoyo can be various: in a foreign land, under the sea, in heaven, under the ground, or in a place beyond the ocean. Various kami and spirits of ancestors are believed to live there. In ...

Toyoashiharanomizuhonokuni

An alternative name for the country of Nihon (Japan). It is a short form of "Toyoashihara no chiaki no nagaihoaki no mizuho no kuni" (Kojiki) or "Toyoashihara no chiihoaki no mizuho no kuni" (Nihongi), both of which mean "the land of luxuriant reed plains with fair rice ears through fifteen hundred...

Tsumi

An action that violates social norms and order. Tsumi also connotes certain taboo naturally occurring hazards that are considered dangerous or impure. These consist of the 2heavenly sins and earthly sins" (amatsutsumi, kunitsutsumi) listed in the Kojiki and the Nihongi and in the Liturgy of the 2Gr...

Ukei

Trial by pledge. Generally indicates the act of divination, determining the divine will regarding the positive or negative, auspicious or inauspicious, success or failure of an act. Ukehi points to uttering certain magical words to achieve a specific outcome, then determining the divine will in ter...

Ushihaku

Ruling a territory as lord. Motoori Norinaga interpreted it as "possessing a certain place as one's own." In the section in the Kojiki concerning the "transfer of the land" (kuniyuzuri), it says: "The Central Land of the Reed Plains (Ashihara no nakatsukuni) over which you [Ōkuninushi] hold sw...

Utsushiyo

Utsushiyo refers to this actual world, according to the Shintō worldview (sekaikan). It is the "unconcealed" or "apparent" realm in contrast to the "concealed" realm (kakuriyo). The Nakatomi no yorigito (in the Engishiki) speaks of "adding the water of heaven to the water of the unconcealed la...

Utsushiyo

Also written as . Neither reading is found as such in the classical texts such as the Nihongi and the Kojiki, but utsushiyo (, that is, ) appears to have been used in the Nihongi as the world where "open matters" (arawanigoto ) are carried out, as opposed to the "concealed realm" (k...

Yamato

An alternate name for the country of Japan. Yamato is also written , , , and . Originally, this was the place name for the vicinity around the present day city of Tenri in Nara Prefecture, but it later became the name for one of the five kingdoms of the Kinai region. (Yamato Provinc...



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