Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Japanese Religion


The Shinto religion is native to Japan. There are various myths concerning the creation and early history of Japan but these are not as clearly detailed as those of other polytheistic societies such as Greece or Rome. They begin with the creation of many minor gods. With a jewelled spear given to them by other gods, the twin deities Izanagi and Izanami created the island of Onogoro. They then gave birth to the islands of Japan and afterwards to other gods. Izanami died giving birth to the fire god and Izanagi could not bring her back from the demons. Izanagi purified himself by washing in a stream and produced new deities from the clothes he took off and from his body. There are many legends concerning these offspring, especially Susano-o who was banished from heaven after pulling down the walls of his sister Amaterasu's paddy fields and breaking into her palace. The semi-legendary first Emperor, Jimmu Tenno, was descended from Susano-o through his grandson O-kuni-Nushi-no-Mikoto. The gods did not have images and many of the shrines still in existence are dedicated to later deities. Many Shinto gods came to be treated as images of the Buddha.


Name Attributes Family

Izanagi 'male who invites' gave birth to deities
Izanami 'female who invites' gave birth to islands of Japan
Susano-o-no-Mikoto sea, storms born from nostril of Izanagi
Amaterasu-omikami-no-Mikoto sun goddess born from eye of Izanagi
O-kuni-Nushi-no-Mikoto rice grandson of Susano-o
Ninigi-no-Mikoto   grandson of Amaterasu

great-grandfather of Jimmu

Ugayafukiaezu   father of Jimmu
Kamu-Yamato-Ihare-Biko   The first Emperor, Jimmu
Kannon horse-headed  
Hachiman warrior  
Inari rice  
Ukemochi-no-Kami rice  
Kobo Daishi    
Benten water goddess  

Yasukuni (country in peace) a shrine for those who died for the Emperor


The teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama or Sakyamuni (Shaka or Shaka-sama in Japan) were adapted and combined with Confucianism. There was some initial conflict with followers of Shinto when Buddhism arrived in the C6th but a dual form of the two religions was adopted which lasted until the Meiji restoration of 1868. The Mahayana or 'greater vehicle' form of Buddhism practised in Japan developed a pantheon of lesser Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Bosatsu in Japanese).

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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