Japanese Patterns of Design
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Japanese Gods: Names and Attributes

Japanese gods – kami are literally everywhere. We use the term “gods” here, however, the term “deities” is closer to the core meaning of kami in Japan.
We represent you names of the main deities out of millions that appear in Japanese mythology Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters).

a forest in Kyoto, Japan taken by Jeremy Kieran
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What is Kami? – Japanese gods

Anything can be Kami in Japan and that notion can’t be separated from Shinto. To clarify, rocks, trees, river, mountains, anything we find divinity in it regarded as Kami. People can be Kami as well if that someone has done great achievement in his/her lifetime. In a nutshell, any entity that we assume has great energy that we’re thankful and in awe. So the list goes on forever in that sense, we represent the names of Kami that appear in Japanese mythology in this article. The unique thing is that we can reach to the first Emperor Jimmu when we follow the bloodline from Japanese mythology from the beginning.

Names of Japanese Gods

Three Deities of Creation

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Actually, there are five deities as the first generation of kami. There are Umashi Ashikabi Hikoji no Kami and Ameno Tokotachi no Kami in this section and they are called “Kotoamatsu Kami” (Special heavenly deities, so to speak). Out of five, the three we represent you are specifically called “three deities of creation”.

Ame no Minakanushi no kami

He is supposed to have emerged firstly in Takamahara when the world began.
Takamahara is where many deities reside. Along with Takami musubi no kami and Kami Musuhi no kami, he is one supreme deity out of three creation deities. Also known as the deity of the universe.

Takami Musubi no kami

He is supposed to have emerged after Ame no Minakanushi no Kami and together with Kami Musubino Kami in Takamahara when the world began.
Takamahara is where many deities reside. Along with Ame no Minakanushi no kami and Kami Musuhi no kami, he is one supreme deity out of three creation gods. He possesses the power of produce and is regarded as a god of the Sun as well. Also known as Takagi no kami, too.

Kami Musubi no kami

She is supposed to have emerged after Ame no Minakanushi no Kami and together with Takami Musubi no Kami in Takamahara when the world began.
Takamahara is where many deities reside. Along with Ame no Minakanushi no kami and Takami musubi no kami, she is one supreme deity out of three creation deities.

Her name “Musubi” represents the production and creation (so does with Takami Musubi), she is deified along with Takami Musubi no kami. They are considered to be a couple that symbolizes the unity between a man and a woman.

Seven Generations of Deities

There are seven generations of deities after the creation deities above.

  1. Kunitokotachi no Kami
  2. Toyokumono no Kami
  3. Uhijini no Kami and Suhijini no Kami
  4. Tsunoguhi no Kami and Ikugushi no Kami
  5. Ootonoji no Kami and Ootobe no Kami
  6. Omodaru no Kami and Ayakashikone no Kami
  7. Izanagagi on Kami and Izanami no Kami
We represent you here the last couple of the seven generations of deities, well-known Izanagi and Izanami. The first two deities are singles and the rest were couples. They are supposed to be brothers and sisters, however, considered to be couples as well. You

You would notice the different term at the end of the name of each deity such as “Kami” and “Mikoto”. There are several theories to explain this matter. There are many variations and even different names to a single deity in Japanese mythology (Kojiki or Nihon Shoki or Kujiki). In this case, where Izanagi and Izanami were in Takamanohara where other celestial deities reside, there were called “Izanagi no Kami” and “Izanami no Kami”. When they are assigned the mission to create the lands of Japan and after that, they were called “Izanagi no Mikoto” and “Izanami no Mikoto”. So a theory implies deities that are assigned some mission come to have “Mikoto” at the end of their names as the kanji characters of “Mikoto – 命” signifies the mission.

Izanagi no Mikoto  

He is a deity who produced the lands of Japan and deities. He started creating Onokoro-jima first for every creation in the order of Amatsukami (deities in Takamahara). When he purified himself after returning from Yomi-no-kuni (the land of the dead), he produced three deities: Amaterasu Omikami, Tsukuyomi no Mikoto, Susanoo no Mikoto.

Izanami no Mikoto

She is a deity of the creation of the lands of Japan and deities partnering with Izanagi no Mikoto. When she gave birth to Kagutsuchi no Kami (deity of fire), she died and became Yomi no Okami who controls Yomi-no-Kuni (the land of the dead).

Three August Deities – Japanese Gods

Amaterasu Omikami

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She was born when Izanagi no Mikoto purified himself after escaping Yomi-no-kuni (the land of the dead) by washing his left eye.
Amaterasu is supposed to be the main deity in Takamanohara. Additionally, she is a symbol of the sun, light, benevolence, truth, and order. The Imperial family has worshipped Amaterasu Omikami as their ancestor in Naiku (Inner Shrine) of Ise Jingu.

Tsukuyomi no Mikoto

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He was born when Izanagi no Mikoto purified himself after escaping Yomi-no-kuni (the land of the dead) by washing his right eye. Amaterasu is his elder sister. Tsukuyomi controls Osukuni, the deity of the night and the moon.
The deity of the moon. The farmers revered him since they planned the farming schedule by knowing the waxing and waning of the moon.

Susanoo no Mikoto

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He was born when Izanagi no Mikoto purified himself after escaping Yomi-no-kuni (the land of the dead) by washing his nose. He controls the sea.
Susanoo was expelled from Takamanohara since Amaterasu got mad at him and hid in Ama no Iwaya for his wrongdoings. He descended to Izumo (present-day Shimane prefecture), slew Yamata no Orochi (a huge serpent which has eight heads), rescued Kushinadahime, and devoted Amano Murakumo no Tsurugi (Heavenly Sword of Assembled Clouds) to Amaterasu Omikami that he took out of the tail of Orochi.
Susanoo is also considered to be the first poet who left the Japanese poem.

Ninigi and Five Accompanying Deities – Japanese Gods

These five deities are the ones who accompanied Ninigi when he descended from Takamahara down to the earth.

Ninigi no Mikoto

The deity of the crop. He is a grandson of Amaterasu and a son of Amano Oshihomimi no Mikoto.
a leading figure in the tale of the descent on the earth of the descendents of Amaterasu (deity of the Sun). Ninigi descended from Takamanohara to Mt. Takachihonomine in Hyuga (present-day Miyazaki prefecture) by the order of Amaterasu to control Nakatsukuni of Ashihara. He was entrusted with three treasures now assumed as the Imperial Regalia.

Ameno Koyane no Mikoto: the deity of Shinto prayer that he recited the Shinto prayer in the tale of Amano Iwato
Futadama no Mikoto: the deity of religious service that he put up the sacred mirror in the tale of Amano Iwato
Ameno Uzume no Mikoto: the deity of entertainment that she performed the dance and succeeded in bringing Amaterasu back to the world in the tale of Amano Iwato
Ishikoridome: the deity of creation that he produced the Yatano Kagami (the sacred mirror) in the tale of Amano Iwato
Tamanooya: the deity of creation that he produced the Yasakanino Magatama (the sacred crescent jewel) in the tale of Amano Iwato

Various Deities – Japanese Gods

a temple in the forest in Kyoto, Japan
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Omoikane no Kami: the deity of scholar and wisdom that he gathered all the kami in Takamanohara when Amaterasu hid in the cave, came up with an idea to take her out and succeeded. He was born as a son of Takami Musubi no Kami and in charge of selecting who to accompany Ninigi when he descends to the earth.

Kushinadahime

She was born as a daughter of Ashinazuchi and Tenazuchi. Known as a deity of agriculture, specifically rice planting. Also revered as a deity of matchmaking, food, clothing, and shelter. Kushinadahime was saved from eating by Yamatano Orochi thanks to Susanoo and got married to him.

Okuninushi no Mikoto

He was born as a son of Susanoo no Mikoto. (Some say he was the 6th generation descendant of Susanoo.)
The deity of medicine and magic spell. Okuninushi used to control Nakatsu Kuni, however, he retreated after Amaterasu sent an envoy to make him transfer the land to them. He is enshrined in Izumo Taisha.

Hinokagutsuchi no Kami

The deity of fire. He was born as one of the sons of Izanagi and Izanami, however, when Izanami gave birth to Hinokagutsuchi, she died because of his fire. Izanagi got mad at him and killed his son, Hinokagutsuchi.

Takemikazuchi no Onokami

The deity of a sword. He was born from the blood when Izanagi killed Hinokagutsuchi with his sword.

Futsunoshi no Kami
The deity of thunder and lightning. He is one of the sons born from the blood when Izanagi killed Hinokagutsuchi with his sword.

Konohana Sakuayahime

cherry blossom
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She was born as a daughter of Ooyamatsumi no Kami and married to Ninigi. The deity of prosperity.
Kohohana Sakuyahime gave birth to Hoderi no Mikoto, Hikohohodemi no Mikoto, and Honoakari no Mikoto.
She was admired as a beautiful goddess for her charm like a beautiful cherry blossom.

Iwanagahime

She was born as a daughter of Oyamatsumi no Kami (大山祇神) and a deity of longevity. There is a story related to these sisters between with Konohana Sakuyahime and Iwanagahime. When Konohanasakuyahime married to Ninigi no Mikoto, her father Oyyamatusmi no Kami sent one of his daughters, Iwanagahime as well for wishing the people’s lives last much longer. However, Ninigi sent Iwanagahime back to Oyamatsumi for her ugliness. Ever since then, the descendants of Ninigi prospered like a cherry blossom, but that is for a short time period.

Hoderi no Mikoto/ Umisachi’hiko and Ho’ori no Mikoto/ Yamasachi’hiko

He was born as the eldest son of Ninigi and Sakuyahime. Hoderi was called “Umisachi’hiko” (boy blessed by the sea) as well since he was excellent at catching fish. He let his brother, Ho’ori no Mikoto (Yamasachi’hiko) to use his valuable fishhook but Ho’ori lost it. Hoderi asked his brother to bring it back to him and Ho’ori brought it back, thanks to the support from the deity of the sea. What Ho’ori got back is not only the fishhook but also the power of controlling the tide of the sea, so he used the power to make his brother, Hoderi submissive and be obedient.

Toyotamahime

She was born as a daughter of Watatsumi no Kami (the deity of the sea). Toyotamahime married to Ho’ori when he came underwater to look for the lost fishhook. She got pregnant with a boy and landed on the beach to give birth. Ho’ori couldn’t resist peeking into the scene of delivery in a shack and found out Toyotamahime has a body of an alligator. She got mad and went back to the underwater world, leaving her newborn son.

Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto

He was born as a son between Ho’ori and Toyotamahime. He is the father of the first emperor, Kamuyamato Iwarebiko no Mikoto (Emperor Jimmu).

Tamayorihime

She was born as a daughter of the deity of the sea. Tamayorihime married to Ugayafukiaezu and had four sons. One of them turned to be the first emperor, Kamuyamato Iwarebiko no Mikoto (Emperor Jimmu).

Emperor Jimmu (Kamuyamato Iwarebiko no Mikoto)


The 1st Emperor of Japan. He was born between Ugayafukiaezu no Mikoto and Tamayorihime. The 3rd generation after Ninigi. Emperor Jimmu went for the eastern expedition, conquered the Yamato Province (present-day Nara prefecture), and ascended the throne in the Kashiahra Palace at the age of 45.

Japanese gods (deities) are ever-increasing as we feel any supreme energy that we admire, appreciate, or anything inspire us in awe starting from our mythology. We are quite fortunate to be surrounded by millions of deities that enrich our lives and in awe of the harmonizing power that enfolds everything in it.

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