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Home » 7. Concepts and Doctrines » Basic Terms
Kotodama refers to the spiritual power that is contained within words, but also refers to the conception that spiritual power can be manifested through the intonation of words. This is explained as an aspect of animism, or alternatively is explained from the perspective of its function as influencing a persons mind. There is also the view that this way of thinking is one of the special characteristics that define Japanese culture. Especially in the world of waka poetry (thirty-one syllable poems in five lines of five, seven, five, seven, seven) it is traditional to think that words "move heaven and earth." Kotodama was also an important concept among National Learning (kokugaku) and Shintō scholars. However, some have put forth the view that originally only spells and incantations were seen as having the force of divine power, and that historically kotodama belief arose during the period when the Manyōshū was compiled.

—Yonei Teruyoshi
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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