A Japanophile who has survived 15 solo trips to Japan. His visits focus on discovering the country’s lesser-known attractions.
The Japanese often say that there are yao yorozu no kamigami (八百万の神々) i.e. eight million Shinto gods and goddesses. The figure is not to be taken literally, though. It is simply an idiomatic expression that means “uncountable.”
In Japan’s native faith, it is believed that there is a Kami (神), or a god, for everything from virtues to rituals, to professions and weather phenomena, to even trees and mountains.
- The Japanese suffix no-Kami simply means “god.” Written as の神 or のかみ or simply神, it is an honorific often tagged to names of Shinto deities.
- The suffix Ōmikami (大神) means “important god” or “chief god.” This honorific is only tagged to the most important Shinto gods. It is often also used to refer to Amaterasu, the all-important Shinto Goddess of the Sun.
- Many Shinto Gods and Goddesses are given the suffix no-Mikoto (命). This indicates the deities were given some sort of important mission. For example, the settling of the Japanese archipelago.
What Are the Kojiki (古事記) and Nihon Shoki (日本書紀)?
The Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki are ancient Japanese compendiums of myths, legends, traditions, and royal history. Believed to be compiled in the eighth century, they are the central source of Shinto myths and legends, particularly, creation myths. The Kojiki, in particular, opens with several chapters about the creation of the Japanese universe and divinities, and how Shinto gods and goddesses arrived in the mortal world.
Of note, the Nihon Shoki is overall, more comprehensive than the Kojiki too. The two compendiums also contain notable differences.
Most entries below are based on information from these two ancient texts.
A Summary of Shinto Creation Myths
The following entries are confusing without basic knowledge of Shinto creation myths. The most important ones of which being: Izanagi and Izanami, Sun Goddess Amaterasu Hiding in a Cave, The Slaying of the Yamata-no-Orochi Serpent, and the Descent of Ninigi-no-Mikoto to the Terrestrial World.
For your reading convenience, these myths could be summarized as follows:
- Izanagi and Izanami were the last of several generations of primordial Shinto gods and goddesses. Together, they created the Japanese archipelago and new generations of Shinto deities.
- Tragically, Izanami died after giving birth to Kagutsuchi, the God of Fire.
- Izanagi attempted to retrieve his deceased wife from the netherworld. However, he was disgusted by Izanami’s rotting form and fled.
- While ritually cleansing himself after his upsetting netherworld expedition, Izanagi created the Mihashira-no-Uzunomiko (三貴子) trinity. These new gods and goddesses being Sun Goddesses Amaterasu, Storm God Susanoo, and Moon God Tsukiyomi.
- Like most real-life siblings, Amaterasu and Susanoo did not get along.
- During a particularly violent rampage, Susanoo flung a flayed horse into Amaterasu’s manor, the resulting chaos of which killed one of the Sun Goddesses’ seamstresses. In despair, Amaterasu fled into a cave named Amano Iwato (天岩戸) and refused to come out. The terrestrial world was immediately plunged into freezing darkness.
- To lure Amaterasu into emerging, the other Shinto gods and goddesses devised an outrageous plan. They decorated a Sasaki (榊) tree outside the cave with jewels and a beautiful mirror. The heavenly dancer, Ame-no-Uzume, also performed a salacious dance while the other gods guffawed.
- As expected, the Sun Goddess couldn’t contain her curiosity. The moment she peeped, she was mesmerized by her glorious reflection in the above-mentioned mirror. She was then dragged out of the cave by Ame-no-Tajikarao, with the cave thereafter magically sealed.
- As for Susanoo, he was banished to the mortal realm of Izumo. There, he slew the eight-headed Yamata-no-Orochi (八岐大蛇) serpent. From the serpent’s carcass, he retrieved the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (天叢雲剣) sword too.
- Susanoo would later gift the magical sword, also known as Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣), to Amaterasu as a reconciliatory gift.
- Two generations later, Amaterasu’s grandson, Ninigi-no-Mikoto, descended to the terrestrial world at Western Kyushu. Ninigi’s great-grandson would become Jimmu, Japan’s legendary first emperor. The descent itself is known as Tenson Kōrin (天孫降臨), or the “descent of the heavenly grandchild.”
- While initially reluctant, the rulers and leaders of the earthly deities eventually ceded control of the terrestrial i.e. human world to the heavenly deities and their descendants. This event is known in Shintoism as Kuni-Yuzuri (国譲り), the “transfer of the land.”
- Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi was eventually gifted to Yamato Takeru. Today, the sword is one of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan.
- The mirror used to lure Amaterasu out of the cave, and one of the jewels, are also today, part of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan.
Amatsukami (天津神) and Kunitsukami (国津神)
Very simply, Amatsukami refers to the celestial Shinto deities who originally resided in the heavenly plains known as Takamanohara (高天原). Kunitsukami refers to the earthly deities and spirits who populated the terrestrial world i.e. our human world.
A major event in both the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki is the “descent” of the Amatsukami to our world. Viewing the human world as chaotic and populated by evil, the Amatsukami appeared and requested that the Kunitsukami hand over control. As mentioned above, though initially unwilling, the Kunitsukami eventually relinquished control.
This event is mentioned in detail in the Kojiki. Some scholars have likened this core Shinto myth as an allegory for the arrival of migrants on the Japanese archipelago.
118 Shinto Gods and Goddesses
1. Ajisukitakahikone-no-Kami (阿遅鉏高日子根神): A Shinto God of Thunder and Agriculture. He is a son of Ōkuninushi, with the “suki” part of his name referring to a plow. Famously, he also resembled his son-in-law, Ameno-Wakahiko, and was mistaken for the latter during the latter’s funeral. Indignant at being mistaken for the deceased, Ajisukitakahikone destroyed the mourning hut. The remnants then fell to Earth and became Mount Moyama.
2. Aki-Bime-no-Kami (秋毘売神): Shinto Goddess of Autumn. A grandchild of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
3. Amanozako (天逆毎): A cantankerous, monstrous Shinto goddesses born from the pent-up fury of Susanoo. She was beastly in appearance, with long ears, a long nose, and sharp fangs. She was also extremely disagreeable about everything, and able to read and possess the hearts of humans. Even her son, Amanosaku (天魔雄), turned out to be exactly the same as her. Eventually, Amanosaku was made the leader of all malicious gods and spirits.
4. Amaterasu Ōmikami (天照大神): The Shinto Goddess of the Sun is the most important deity in Shintoism. There are several ancient Shinto creation myths associated with her, all of which are listed in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki as “evidence” that the Japanese race descended from the sun. Today, two of the three Imperial Regalia of the Japanese Royal Family are associated with her, these being the Yata-no-Kagami (八咫鏡) mirror, and the Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉) jewel. Within Japan, her most important shrine is Ise Grand Shrine, at which the Yata-no-Kagami mirror is enshrined. Her grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto is also the great-grandfather of Jimmu, the first Japanese emperor.
5. Amatsu-Hikone-no-Mikoto (天津日子根命): An ancestral god of many Japanese aristocratic clans and the father of Ame-no-Mahitotsu. Before their big fallout, Amaterasu and Susanoo established a truce, one that involved each of them creating new gods. Amatsu-Hikone was the third such god to be born when Susanoo chewed the beads necklace of his sister. Susanoo then declared himself the winner of this “truce,” and went on a victory rampage that resulted in Amaterasu hiding in a cave.
6. Amatsu-Mikaboshi (天津甕星): The “Dreaded Star of Heaven” is a Shinto God of Stars and one of the rare Shinto deities to be decisively portrayed as malevolent. He does not appear in the Kojiki but the Nihon Shoki mentions him as the last deity to resist the Kuni-Yuzuri. Historians have theorized that Amatsu-Mikaboshi was a god of stars worshiped by a tribe that resisted Yamato sovereignty. In some variant accounts, he is also called Kagaseo (香香背男).
7. Ame-no-Futodama-no-Kami (天太玉神): One of the heavenly gods who prepared the Sasaki tree that lured Amaterasu out from the cave she was hiding in. (He prepared the jewels and mirror) He is also a god of divination, having famously “divined” that the plot to lure Amaterasu out from hiding would work.
8. Ame-no-Hazuchio-no-Kami (天羽槌雄神): Also known as Shitori-no-Kami (倭文神), Ame-no-Hazuchio’s role in the Amano Iwato incident was to decorate the Sasaki tree with colorful bolts of cloth. He is worshipped as a god of all woven materials, in addition to being the ancestral god of the Shitori Clan.
9. Ame-no-Hiboko-no-Mikoto (天日槍命): A legendary Silla prince who supposedly came to Japan during the third or fourth century. He is the ancestral god of the ancient Tajima Province (modern-day Hyōgo Prefecture). According to legend, he also brought with him several treasures when moving to Japan.
10. Ame-no-Hoakari-no-Kami (天火明神): The God of Sunlight and Heat. There are contradictions within ancient Japanese texts as to whether he is an elder brother, or son of, Ninigi. The Sendai Kujihongi (先代旧事本紀) describes him as the same as Nigihayahi.
11. Ame-no-Hohi-no-Kami (天穂日神): A son of Amaterasu and the second to be tasked with claiming the terrestrial lands during the Kuni-Yuzuri. Though recognized as the most heroic of the heavenly gods, he deflected to the side of the earthly gods.
12. Ame-no-Iwatowake-no-Kami (天石門別神): The God of Gateways. One of three gods sent to deliver the current Imperial Regalia of Japan to Ise Grand Shrine, the other two gods being Omoikane and Ame-no-Tajikarao.
13. Ame-no-Kaguyama-no-Mikoto (天香山命): A descendant of Amaterasu and the ancestral god of the Owari Clan (the retainers of Oda Nobunaga). He was one of 32 Shinto gods and goddesses who descended to earth to serve the descendants of Ninigi-no-Mikoto.
14. Ame-no-Koyane (天児屋根神): The Shinto God of Rituals and Chants. During the Amano Iwato episode, he sang in front of the cave, leading Amaterasu to slightly push aside the boulder blocking the entrance. Primarily enshrined at Nara’s Kasuga Taisha and the ancestral god of the historically powerful Nakatomi Clan i.e. the main family of the Fujiwara Regents.
15. Ame-no-Mahitotsu-no-Kami (天目一箇神): The God of Metallurgy and Blacksmiths. In ancient texts, he is described as having produced armaments for different gods. At the Tado Shrine in modern-day Mie prefecture, he is also venerated as a protector against typhoons. The latter stems from his cyclops-like appearance i.e. one-eye visage being associated with, or mistaken for Ichimokuren (一目連), another metalworking and weather deity.
16. Ame-no-Michine-no-Mikoto (天道根命): One of the 32 Amatsukami that descended to earth. Alternate traditions state that he co-created the Yata-no-Kagami with Ishikori-Dome.
17. Ame-no-Mihashira-no-Kami (天御柱神): Named as Shinatsuhiko (シナツヒコ) in the Kojiki, Ame-no-Mihashira is a child of Izanagi and Izanami, and a God of Wind. The ancient Japanese viewed winds as capable of both life-giving and destruction as moving air is necessary for agriculture. At Nara’s Tatsuta Taisha, he is worshipped together with Kuni-no Mihashira (国御柱命), or Shinatsuhime (シナツヒメ), his earthly feminine form.
18. Ame-no-Mikage-no-Kami (天之御影神): Apart from being a God of Metallurgy, Ame-no-Mikage is also worshipped as a protector of homes and a remover of calamities. He was another one of the 32 Shinto gods and goddesses who first descended onto the terrestrial world, and is sometimes considered the same as Ame-no-Mahitotsu.
19. Ame-no-Minakanushi-no-Kami (天之御中主神): According to the Kojiki, Ame-no-Minakanushi is the first of the three earliest primordial deities of Shintoism to come into existence. Described as the first Kami, genderless, and the source of the universe, some theologians believe Ame-no-Minakanushi is the spirit of the North Star. The primordial god is also one of the five “distinguished heavenly gods” of Shintoism, a quintet known as Kotoamatsukami (別天神).
20. Ame-no-Oshihomimi-no-Kami (天忍穂耳命): A son of Amaterasu and the first to be tasked with claiming the terrestrial lands during the Kuni-Yuzuri. After inspecting the human world from the bridge connecting heaven and earth, he refused to proceed and returned to heaven.
21. Ame-no-Sagume (天探女): The goddess who encouraged Ame-no-Wakahiko to kill the pheasant sent to question him. Ame-no-Sagume detected the pheasant observing Ame-no-Wakahiko, and believing it was an omen of evil, advised Wakahiko to shoot the bird. In subsequent generations, the goddess was demonized into the fiendish Amanojyaku (天邪鬼) imp.
22. Ame-no-Tachikarao-no-Kami (天手力男神): The God of Strength who pulled Amaterasu out from the cave she was hiding in. Also a God of Sports, Ame-no-Tachikarao is widely worshipped at numerous shrines across Japan.
23. Ame-no-Torifune-no-Kami (天鳥船神): The “Heavenly Bird Ship” that delivered Takemikazuchi to Izumo for the Kuni-Yuzuri.
24. Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto (天宇受売命): The Shinto Goddess of Dawn, Mirth, Revelry, Mediation, and the Arts. In pop culture entertainment, she is occasionally also depicted as a dancer goddess, thanks to her role in luring Amaterasu out of hiding. In that myth, Ame-no-Uzume was the goddess who performed a salacious dance to tempt the Sun Goddess into peeping out from her hiding spot. Later, after the heavenly gods descended to the human realm, she married Sarutahiko, the leader of the earthly gods. Today, Ame-no-Uzume is still widely worshipped across Japan. Her mythical role in returning the sun to the world is also the inspiration for Kagura (神楽), the sacred Shinto ceremonial dance.
25. Ame-no-Wakahiko-no-Kami (天若日子神): The third messenger sent by the heavenly deities to claim ownership of the terrestrial world. Like his predecessors, he also sided with the earthly rulers and deities. When a pheasant was sent to question him, he even shot it with the Ame-no-Makakoyumi bow (天之麻迦古弓), the divine weapon given to him to assist with his duties. (It is said the goddess Ame-no-Sagume encouraged him to do so) Ame-no-Wakahiko was ultimately killed when the arrow he fired landed at the feet of Amaterasu and Takamimusubi. The arrow was shot back with a curse, killing the renegade messenger instantly.
26. Atsuta-no-Okami (熱田大神): The spirit of Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣), Japan’s most important and famous mythical sword. Venerated at Nagoya’s Atsuta Shrine, Atsuta-no-Okami could alternatively be the spirit of Amaterasu. In Shinto mythology, the mighty sword is said to be imbued with the Sun Goddess’s spirit.
27. Chūai Tenno (仲哀天皇): The legendary 14th Emperor of Japan, and said to be the son of Yamato Takeru. Described as ten-feet-tall and supremely handsome, he was allegedly killed by a vengeful Kami after he refused to invade Korea. After his death, the Kokiji and Nihon Shoki claim that his wife Empress Jingū took over as regent and completed the invasion. Modern historians, however, considered the narrative to be fictitious. The Empress is believed to have merely governed as regent, till her son ascended the throne.
28. Fūjin (風神): The Shinto God of the Wind. He is always portrayed as a fearsome-looking supernatural being holding a large bag of winds on his back.
29. Futsunushi-no-Kami (経津主神): Also referred to as Katori Daimyōjin (香取大明神), Futsunushi is a Shinto warrior god and the ancestral god of the Mononobe Clan. In the Nihon Shoki, he accompanied Takemikazuchi when the latter was sent to claim ownership of the terrestrial world. After Ōkuninushi relented, the duo eliminated all remnant spirits that refused to submit to them.
30. Hachiman-no-Kami (八幡神): The warrior “God of Eight Banners” is not completely Shinto in origin. Instead, he is a syncretic divinity of archery and war incorporating both Shinto and Buddhist elements. Venerated as the patron of warriors, and the protector of Japan and her citizens, Hachiman was famously worshiped by the Minamoto Clan; one of the most celebrated Hachiman Shrine is in Kamakura i.e. the power center of the Minamotos. One of the most widely venerated deities in Japanese history, there are today over two thousand Hachiman shrines in the country.
31. Haniyasubiko-no-Kami (波邇夜須毘古神): The Kojiki describes Haniyasubiko as one of two gods born from Izanami’s excrement after she died giving birth to Kagutsuchi. (The other is Haniyasuhime) The “Hani” in their names means soil.
32. Hayamato-no-Kami (羽山戸神): Shinto God of Mountain Ridges. A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami and the husband of Ōgetsu-Hime-no-Kami (大気都比売神) i.e. Uke-Mochi.
33. Hijiri-no-Kami (聖神): Shinto God of Farming Knowledge and Agriculture by the Sun. A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
34. Hiruko-no-Kami (蛭子神): See Ebisu entry under Shichi Fukujin.
35. Ikushima-no-Kami (生島神): The protector/spirit of the Japanese archipelago. Also, a patron of life and development. He is venerated at Osaka’s Ikukunitama Jinja together with Tarushima-no-Kami (足島神).
36. Inari Ōkami (稲荷大神): One of the most widely venerated deities in Japan, Inari is the Shinto God of Foxes, Fertility, Rice, Tea, Wine, Agriculture, and Prosperity. Represented as male, female, or androgynous, the worship of Inari became widespread during the Edo Period, leading to a third of all Shinto shrines in Japan today dedicated to the fox deity. (White foxes are believed to be Inari’s messengers) Of all these shrines, the most famous and visited is undoubtedly Kyoto’s stunning Fushimi Inari Shrine.
37. Ishikori-dome no Mikoto (石凝姥命): The Shinto God of Mirrors and the creator of the Yata-no-Kagami mirror. He is the patron of mirror makers and stonecutters.
38. Isotakeru-no-Kami (五十猛神): A son of Susanoo who was briefly mentioned in the Nihon Shogi. In that account, he accompanied his father to Silla before the latter was banished to Izumo. Though he brought with him various seeds, he did not plant these; he only planted them after returning to Japan. Within the Kojiki, he is named as Ōyabiko-no-Kami (大屋毘古神). Today, he is worshiped as a god of the household.
39. Iwazuchibiko-no-Kami (石土毘古神): A Shinto household god that represents the stone foundation of homes. Child of Izanagi and Izanami.
40. Izanagi-no-Mikoto (伊邪那岐命): The male progenitor of many Shinto gods and goddesses, and the last of seven generations of primordial deities. Together with his wife Izanami, he created the Japanese archipelago using his spear Amenonuhoko (天之瓊矛). After Izanami died giving birth to the God of Fire Kagutsuchi, he visited the underworld in hopes of retrieving/reviving his beloved wife. Sadly, he was horrified by the rotting carcass of Izanami and fled, after which he also used a huge boulder to seal the entrance to the underworld. While ritually cleansing himself after his tragic expedition, the Mihashira-no-Uzunomiko trinity was born from Izanagi’s eyes and nose. This new divine trio subsequently became the most important gods and goddesses of Shintoism.
41. Izanami-no-Mikoto (伊邪那美命): The female progenitor of many Shinto gods and goddesses, and wife of Izanagi. She died giving birth to Kagutsuchi, the God of fire. When her husband attempted to retrieve her from the underworld, her ghastly rotting visage also sent him fleeing in disgust and fear. In vengeance, Izanami then dispatched various minions of the underworld after Izanagi, ultimately also pursuing him herself. After Izanagi thwarted her by blocking the entrance to the underworld, she cursed that she would kill a thousand of Izanagi’s descendants i.e. humans each day. In retaliation, Izanagi replied that he would create 1,500 replacements each day.
42. Jimmu Tennō (神武天皇): The legendary first emperor of Japan, and said to be a direct descendent of Amaterasu and Susanoo. In Shinto mythology, he launched a military campaign from the ancient Hyūga Province in Southeastern Kyūshū and captured Yamato (modern-day Nara Prefecture), following which he established his center of power at Yamato. The Kojiki and Nihon Shoki then combined Jimmu’s dynasties with those of his successors to form one unbroken genealogy.
43. Jingū-kōgō (神功皇后): According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, Jingū-kōgō was the Empress of Chūai Tenno, who ruled as regent following her husband’s death in AD 200. Her deeds, if true, are debatable, and historians have never been able to verify her existence. Nonetheless, the empress is still venerated at a Kofun tomb in Nara and at Osaka’s Sumiyoshi-Taisha. In the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, she is also described as having successfully invaded the Korean Peninsula, and was gifted the famed Seven-Branch Sword (七支刀, Shichishitō) by the King of Baekje.
44. Kagutsuchi-no-Kami (火之迦具土): The Shinto God of Fire. His mother, Izanami, died giving birth to his fiery form, following which he was beheaded by his father for the tragedy. Despite the latter, he is still worshipped in Japan today, and is the patron deity of blacksmiths and ceramic workers. According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, his “slaying” also created many other Shinto gods and goddesses.
45. Kakinomoto-no-Hitomaro (柿本人麿): An aristocrat who lived during the late Asuka Period, Kakinomoto-no-Hitomaro is widely recognized as one of the greatest waka poets in Japanese history. Within Shintoism, he is revered as a god of poetry and scholarship.
46. Kamimusubi-no-Kami (神産巣日神): According to the Kojiki, one of the three earliest primordial deities of Shintoism and part of the Kotoamatsukami, the five “distinguished heavenly gods” of Shintoism. Kamimusubi appeared in the heavenly pains together with Takamimusubi, and is considered a creation god, genderless, and of the earthly deities. His true form is also concealed from humans, with some traditions additionally believing the deity is an alternate manifestation of Ame-no-Minakanushi.
47. Kamo-Wake-Ikazuchi-no-Kami (賀茂別雷神): Though his name has the kanji for thunder in it, Kamo-Wake-Ikazuchi is not a thunder god. His father found an arrowhead in Kyoto’s Kamo River, and his mother became pregnant with him after the arrowhead was placed beside her. During his coming-of-age ceremony, his grandfather invited him to offer “wine to his father,” following which Kamo-Wake-Ikazuchi broke through the roof and ascended to heaven. It is said that the arrowhead was actually the manifestation of Shirahi, the Shinto God of Light and the Corona. Today, Kamo-Wake-Ikazuchi is primarily worshipped at Kyoto’s Kamo-Wake-Ikazuchi Jinja.
48. Kamu-Ōichihime-no-Kami (神大市比売): A daughter of Ōyamatsumi who married Susanoo. She is the mother of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
49. Kanayamahiko-no-Kami (金山彦神): The Shinto God of Mines. Born from the vomit of Izanami after she died giving birth to Kagutsuchi.
50. Kehi-no-Kami (氣比神): Formally known as Izasawake-no-Mikoto (伊奢沙別命), the deity of Fukui Prefecture’s Kehi Shrine was a Silla Prince who came to Japan during the legendary reign of Emperor Sujin. The Nihon Shoki describes him as having horns.
51. Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto (吉備津彦命): A legendary prince of Emperor Kōrei who slew an ogre named Ura. He is worshipped at shrines in modern-day Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures.
52. Kikuri-Hime-no-Kami (菊理媛神): The “Priestess of Chrysanthemum” was briefly mentioned in the Nihon Shoki as a meditator during the fallout between Izanagi and Izanami. The compendium, however, did not list what she did or said, merely stating that Izanagi praised her words.
53. Konohanasakuya-Hime (木花咲耶姫): The daughter of Ōyamatsumi, Konohanasakuya-hime, or Sakuya-Hime, is the Shinto personification of earthly life. She is also the Goddess of Mount Fuji and all Japanese volcanoes. Ninigi met and fell in love with her in the terrestrial world, but when he asked Ōyamatsumi for her hand, the older god instead offered Iwa-Naga-Hime, his older and uglier daughter. Because Ninigi refused that offer and insisted on Sakuya-Hime, he was cursed with mortal life. Later, Ninigi also suspected Sakuya-Hime of infidelity. In a reaction worthy of her title as Goddess of Volcanoes, Sakuya-Hime then gave birth in a blazing hut, claiming her children will not be hurt if they are true offspring of Ninigi. Neither she nor her triplets were burnt in the end.
54. Kotoshironushi-no-Kami (事代主神): A son of Ōkuninushi and the brother of Takeminakata. Unlike his brother, he was accepting of the Kuni-Yuzuri handover. He handed over his spear, surrendered, and left Izumo. Later, his daughter became a consort of Emperor Jimmu.
55. Kuebiko (久延毘古): The Shinto God of Knowledge and Agriculture. Described as a scarecrow that is sentient and wise, but unable to move.
56. Kukuki-Wakamurotsunane-no-Kami (久久紀若室葛根神): A grandchild of Ōtoshi-no-Kami. His name means "the intent to build a new home using arrowroot ropes."
57. Kukutoshi-no-Kami (久久年神): A grandchild of Ōtoshi-no-Kami. His name means "the growth of the stems of crops."
58. Kumano Kami (熊野神): Japan’s ancient Kumano Region (modern-day southern Mie Prefecture) has long been a place of spirituality. After the rise of Buddhism in Japan, the nature kami originally worshipped in Kumano were syncretized with Buddhist saviors such as Amitābha Buddha. At its peak, pilgrimages to Kumano were so popular, the trails of the faithful were described as akin to ants.
59. Kuninotokotachi-no-Kami (国之常立神): A primordial deity that came into existence when heaven and earth were formed from chaos. Some scholars identify him as the same as Ame-no-Minakanushi.
60. Kuraokami (闇龗): Referred to as Okami-no-Kami (淤加美神) in the Kojiki, and a Shinto Dragon God of Rain and Snow, born from Kagutsuchi’s blood when the infant God of Fire was slain by Izanagi. The Kojiki additionally lists him as an ancestor of Ōkuninushi.
61. Kushinada-Hime (奇稲田姫): Wife of Susanoo and Shinto goddess of rice. Susanoo famously rescued her from devouring by the Yamata-no-Orochi serpent; the storm god did so by transforming her into a comb. In modern times, an asteroid was also named after her.
62. Mizuhanome-no-Kami (彌都波能売神): A Shinto Goddess of Irrigation, born from the urine of Izanami after she died from giving birth to Kagutsuchi.
63. Mizumaki-no-Kami (弥豆麻岐神): A God of Agricultural Irrigation and a grandchild of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
64. Munakatasan-Jyoshin (宗像三女神): Three goddesses of the sea and navigation who are protectors of the nautical routes between Japan and Korea. Individually, they are Takiribime-no-Mikoto (多紀理毘売命), Ichikishima-Hime-no-Mikoto (市寸島比売命), and Tagitsu-Hime-no-Mikoto (多岐都比売命). They were created when Amaterasu broke Susanoo’s ten-width sword during their temporary truce.
65. Nakisawame-no-Kami (泣沢女神): Shinto Goddess of Spring Water. Born from the tears of Izanagi when he embraced his wife’s deceased body.
66. Natsutakatsuhi-no-Kami (夏高津日神): Shinto God of the Summer Sun. A grandchild of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
67. Nigihayahi-no-Mikoto (饒速日尊): A mythical ruler of Yamato before Emperor Jimmu’s conquest. Like Jimmu, he is also the descendant of the heavenly gods, although the divine relics he possessed were inferior to those of Jimmu. Some traditions consider him the same as Ame-no-Hoakari.
68. Ninigi no Mikoto (瓊瓊杵尊): Ninigi is the central character of the all-important Tenson Kōrin episode in Shinto mythology. The event literally means “the descent of the heavenly grandchild” in English, with Ninigi being the grandson of Sun Goddess Amaterasu who was tasked with claiming governance of the terrestrial world. His great-grandson is Emperor Jimmu, the legendary first Emperor of Japan.
69. Niwataka-Tsuhi-no-Kami (庭高津日神): A God of the Mansion. A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
70. Niwa-Tsuhi-no-Kami (庭津日神): A God of the Mansion. A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
71. Okitsuhiko-no-Kami (興津彦神): The Shinto God of the Blaze and Hearth. Son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
72. Okitsu-Hime-no-Kami (澳津姫神): Shinto Goddess of the Kitchen, Stove, and Hearth. Daughter of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
73. Ōkuni-Mitama-no-Kami (大国御魂神): The Shinto “soul of the nation.” A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
74. Ōkuninushi-no-Kami (大国主神): One of the most important earthly deities in Shintoism, Ōkuninushi, also known as Ōnamuchi-no-Kami (大己貴神), was the original ruler of the human world and the leader of the terrestrial gods. In his youth, he underwent various hardships before winning the hand of the daughter of Storm God Susanoo. After he handed over control of the land to the heavenly deities, he retreated to the unseen world known as Kakuriyo (幽世). Today, the Grand Shrine of Izumo is heavily associated with him. Here, Shinto worshippers pray not just for themselves but for their partners as well. They do so by clapping their hands four times instead of twice, and by bowing twice instead of once.
75. Ōmagatsuhi-no-Kami (大禍津日神): The Shinto God of Calamities, Evil, Curses, and Defilement. Created during Izanagi’s ritual cleansing after his tragic netherworld expedition.
76. Omoikane-no-Kami (思兼神): The Shinto God of Wisdom and Intelligence. A much-respected counselor in the Heavenly Plains, Omoikane is credited with devising the method to lure Amaterasu out of hiding after the Sun Goddess fled into a cave. Interestingly, in Japanese pop entertainment such as Manga and video games, Omoikane is often depicted as a floating brain with multiple tentacles.
77. Ōtoshi-no-Kami (大歳神): The Shinto God of the Year, or “Great Year God.” He is the son of Storm God Susanoo, and himself, the father of many other Shinto deities.
78. Ōyamakui-no-Kami (大山咋神): The Mountain God of Kyoto’s Mount Hiel. A son of Ōtoshi-no-Kami and one of the main enshrined deities of Hie Jinja, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan.
79. Ōyamatsumi-no-Kami (大山津見神): The Kokiji and Nihon Shoki differ on the origins of Ōyamazumi. The Kojiki states Ōyamazumi was born from the carcass of Kagutsuchi, while the Nihon Shoki wrote Izanagi and Izanami created him after birthing the gods of wind and wood. Regardless of version, Ōyamazumi is venerated as an important mountain and warrior god, and is the father of Konohananosakuya-Hime, thus making him the father-in-law of Ninigi. Also, he is said to have been so delighted by the birth of his grandson Yamasachi-Hiko, he made sweet wine for all the gods. He is thus venerated by the Japanese as a god of wine-making too.
80. Raijin (雷神): The God of Lightning, Thunder, and Storms. He is always depicted as a fearsome-looking supernatural being surrounded by Japanese drums.
81. Ryūjin (龍神): The Dragon God of Shintoism and worshipped in some traditions as Ōwatatsumi-no-Kami (大綿津見神). He rules the seas from a magnificent underwater coral palace and is an ancient ancestor of the Japanese Royal Family, as his daughter Toyotama Hime married the grandfather of Japan’s first emperor.
82. Sanbō-Kōjin (三宝荒神): The Shinto God of the Kitchen, Fire, and the Hearth. He also represents fire controlled and used for good purposes. Similar to the Chinese God Zao Jun, he reports the deeds of households to other gods for evaluation and reward/punishments. Occasionally referred to as Kamado-Gami (かまど神).
83. Sarutahiko Ōkami (猿田彦大神): The Shinto God of Purification, Strength, and Guidance. In Shinto mythology, Sarutahiko was the leader of the earthly Kunitsukami gods. Though initially unwillingly, he eventually yielded control of his domain to the heavenly gods on the advice of Ame-no-Uzume, whom he later married. He was also the earthly deity who greeted Ninigi-no-Mikoto when the latter descended to the mortal world.
84. Seidai Myojin (精大明神): The Shinto God of Sports. Originally worshipped as the God of Kemari, a medieval Japanese ball game resembling soccer.
85. Shichi Fukujin (七福神): Japan’s famous “Seven Gods of Fortune” comprises deities from Shintoism, Japanese Buddhism, and Chinese Taoism. Historically, they are believed to have been “assembled” on instructions of Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, for the purpose of representing seven types of blessed living.
- Benzaiten (弁財天): The Japanese folkloric form of Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge. Always depicted holding a biwa, or Japanese lute, she is the patron of geishas, artists, musicians, dancers, and other professions involving the arts. Also the personification of business talent, beauty, commercial fortitude, and so on.
- Bishamonten (毘沙門天): Based on Kubera, the Hindu Lord of Wealth, and similar in appearance to Buddhist Heavenly King Vaiśravaṇa, Bishamonten is the guardian of holy sites as well as the god of fortune for wars and battles. He is always depicted as dignified, clad in traditional armor, and holding a pagoda.
- Daikokuten (大黒天): The “Great God of Blackness,” is the syncretized form of Hindu God Shiva and Ōkuninushi. Always depicted with a wide jovial face and with a mallet, he brings forth wealth and fortune, and is a patron of the kitchen. Frequently displayed by businesses together with Ebisu.
- Ebisu (恵比寿): God of Prosperity, Businesses, and Agricultural Abundance. Also, the only member of the Shichi Fukujin who’s purely Japanese in origin. In Shinto creation myths, Ebisu was Hiruko (蛭子), the boneless first child of Izanagi and Izanami. After he was cast away on a boat made of reeds, he grew up to become a patron of wealth and fishing. In Japanese art, he is depicted as a jovial man holding a fishing rod and/or a fish.
- Fukurokuju (福禄寿): Based on the Chinese folkloric “Three Stars of Fortune, Prosperity, and Longevity,” Fukurokuju is always depicted as a cheery man carrying a staff and a scroll. He is sometimes replaced by Kichijōten (吉祥天), the Japanese version of Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Abundance.
- Hotei (布袋): Hotei is the patron of diviners and barmen, the protector of children, and a bringer of fortune. His name means “cloth bag,” and he is always shown carrying a large one; supposedly, the bag contains fortunes to be bestowed. Some folktales describe him as an avatar of Miroku, the Buddha of the Future. He also often appears bare-bodied, with his loose clothing unable to conceal his prominent belly.
- Jurōjin (寿老人): Based on the Chinese Sage of the South Pole, Jurōjin is the bringer of longevity, and always depicted as a bald and kindly old man with a prominent forehead. Like his Chinese counterpart, Jurōjin is also frequently accompanied by cranes and tortoises, and shown holding a peach. These being symbols of long life in East Asian cultures.
86. Shiotsuchioji-no-Kami (塩土老翁神): The Shinto God of Nautical Navigation and Salt-making, typically visualized as a sage-like old man. In the Nihon Shoki, he was also the deity that advised Emperor Jimmu to extend his empire to Eastern Japan.
87. Sugiwara-no-Michizane (菅原道真): A respected scholar, poet, and politician who lived during the Heian Period, Sugiwara-no-Michizane died in exile in AD 903 no thanks to machinations of his political rivals. After his death, calamities plagued Japan, leading the Imperial Court to believe Sugiwara’s vengeful spirit required appeasement. To do so, the Court built the Kitano Tenman-gū Shrine and posthumously restored Sugiwara’s titles. Decades later, Sugiwara was further deified as Tenjin (天神), the Shinto God of Learning. Today, Tenjin continues to be widely venerated at Tenman-gū shrines across Japan. For example, thousands of Japanese students visit Kyūshū’s Dazaifu Tenman-Gū yearly, in hopes of academic success.
88. Suijin (水神): The God of Water, although the name could also refer to any magical aquatic being. Suijin is venerated by Japanese people dependent on fishing for a living. In addition, with clean water an absolute necessity for living and agriculture, Suijin is considered a patron saint of fertility, motherhood, and childbirth.
89. Sukuna-Hikona (少彦名神): In Shinto mythology, the diminutive “god of renown” was the advisor and companion of Ōkuninushi. For the latter’s management of his land, Sukuna-Hikona invented medicine and farming methods, and even introduced the healing benefits of onsen i.e. hot springs. This led to him being venerated as the Shinto God of Hot Springs, Agriculture, Healing, Magic, Wine, and Knowledge. In some myths, he is also credited with the discovery of Dōgo Onsen, one of Japan’s oldest hot springs.
90. Sumiyoshi Sanjin (住吉三神): Sanjin means “three gods,” and refers to Sokotsutsu-no-O-no-Mikoto (底筒男命), Nakatsutsu-no-O-no-Mikoto (中筒男命), and Uwatsutsu-no-O-no-Mikoto (表筒男命). Gods of the sea and sailing, the trinity is alternatively venerated as Sumiyoshi Daijin (住吉大神). Osaka’s famous Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is dedicated to them.
91. Susanoo no Mikoto (佐之男命): Shinto God of the Sea and Storms, and younger brother of Amaterasu. The “Impetuous Male” had a violent rivalry with his older sister, the culmination of which resulted in the Sun Goddess retreating into a cave. After he was banished from the Heavenly Plains to Ancient Izumo Province, he slew the eight-headed Yamata-no-Orochi serpent and married Kushinada-Hime. Today, the sword retrieved by Susanoo from the carcass of the serpent is one of the Three Imperial Regalia of Japan. The Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, also known as the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi “grass-cutter” sword, was subsequently given by Susanoo to his older sister as a reconciliatory gift. Following which, the sword was passed to warrior god Yamato Takeru to protect him from his enemies.
92. Suseribime-no-Kami (須勢理毘売神): Daughter of Susanoo and one of several wives of Ōkuninushi. The “Lord of the Land” won her hand after many trials inflicted by Susanoo.
93. Takamimusubi-no-Kami (高御産巣日神): One of the three earliest primordial deities of Shintoism and part of the Kotoamatsukami, the five “distinguished heavenly gods” of Shintoism. Takamimusubi appeared in the heavenly pains together with Kamimusubi, and is considered a creator god, genderless, and of the heavenly deities. His true form is also concealed from humans, with some traditions additionally believing the deity is an alternate manifestation of Ame-no-Minakanushi.
94. Takeiwatatsu-no-Kami (健磐龍神): The deified, dragon form of a grandson of Emperor Jimmu. Nowadays also venerated at Aso Shrine as the God of Mount Aso. Legend goes that when surveying the immense volcano, the prince detected a crater lake from afar. He then kicked the cliffs till it cracked, and successfully channeled the resulting water stream for agricultural growth.
95. Takemikazuchi-no-Kami (建御雷神): According to the Kojiki, the Shinto God of Thunder was created from the blood of Kagutsuchi when the latter was slain by Izanagi. Later, he was also the final emissary dispatched by the heavenly gods to claim ownership of the terrestrial lands. When Takeminakata, the son of Ōkuninushi, refused without a physical bout, Takemikazuchi wrestled with the latter and crushed his arms like “reeds;” this culturally viewed as the first Sumo match Additionally, the God of Thunder assisted Emperor Jimmu during the Yamato conquest of East Japan. He did so by gifting the Emperor his powerful sword to defeat the evil spirits of the Kumano region.
96. Takeminakata-no-Kami (建御名方神): A son of Ōkuninushi and an original ruler of the terrestrial lands, Takeminakata was defeated by Takemikazuchi during the Kuni-Yuzuri. He was also pursued by Takemikazuchi to the Suwa Region (modern-day Nagano), where he promised to live in exile in exchange for his life. Today, he is worshipped as one of the primary deities of the Suwa group of shrines in Nagano, and regarded as a god of wind, water, agriculture, and war. Some scholars have also theorized that Takeminakata was originally a water deity. As Suwa Myōjin (諏訪明神) i.e. the “Manifest Deity of Suwa,” his most famous follower was Warlord Takeda Shingen.
97. Takenouchi-no-Sugune (武内宿禰): A legendary statesman who supposedly served under several emperors and Empress Jingū. When accused of treason, he survived an ordeal of boiling water to prove his innocence. Currently venerated at shrines in Fukui, Tottori, and Fukuoka Prefectures.
98. Takuhatachiji-Hime-no-Mikoto (栲幡千千姫命): One of the 32 Shinto gods and goddesses who descended to the terrestrial lands. She is described as the daughter of Takamimusubi and the younger sister of Omoikane; also, the wife of Ame-no-Oshihomimi. (This makes her the mother of Ninigi-no-Mikoto) Currently enshrined in Kyoto’s Imamiya Shrine as a Goddess of Fabric and Sewing.
99. Tamayori-Hime (玉依毘売命): The younger sister of Toyotama Hime (see below). After her older sister left Hoori i.e. Yamasachi-Hiko, she cared for her nephew and later married him. Their youngest child became Emperor Jimmu.
100. Tōshō Daigongen (東照大権現): The “newest” Shinto god on this list, Tōshō Daigongen is the deified form of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Shogun who united Japan after decades of civil war. His most famous shrine is the gorgeous Nikkō Tōshō-gū.
101. Toyōke-Ōmikami (豊受大神): Shinto Goddess of Agriculture and Industry. In the Kojiki, she was invited to reside at Ise Grand Shrine to provide food for Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Various folktales also claim Toyōke once had her heavenly robes stolen while bathing, and thus she was forced to remain on earth and tend to an elderly couple. These folktales have occasionally been referenced in Japanese video games such as Yokai Dochuki.
102. Toyotama Hime (豊玉姫): The beautiful daughter of the Dragon God who married Hoori, the grandfather of Japan’s first emperor. According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, she left her husband after the latter broke his promise about not spying on her during childbirth.
103. Tsukiyomi no Mikoto (月読尊): The mysterious Shinto God of the Moon and sibling of Amaterasu and Susanoo. Though one of the Mihashira-no-Uzunomiko i.e. the Three Noble Children of Izanagi, little is known about him. In fact, it was only in later centuries that the god was referred to as male. The most famous myth of Tsukiyomi is that of his fallout with Amaterasu after he slew Uke Mochi; the moon god was disgusted by how Uke Mochi prepared a feast for him by vomiting food. In anger, Amaterasu forever refused to look upon her sibling, resulting in day eternally separated from night.
104. Ugajin (宇賀神): A fertility and harvest god, depicted in Shinto shrines as a snake with the head of a woman or bearded man. In later centuries, Ugajin was syncretically fused with the Japanese Buddhist Goddess of Knowledge, Benzaiten, into Uga Benten. At Ueno Park’s popular Bentendo Temple, there is a statue of Ugajin right before the main temple entrance.
105. Ugayafukiaezu-no-Mikoto (鵜葺草葺不合命): The father of Emperor Jimmu. He is himself the son of goddess Toyotama Hime and Yamasachi-Hiko, and the grandson of Ninigi-no-Mikoto.
106. Ukanomitama-no-Kami (宇迦之御魂神): A god of food and agriculture who is often associated with Inari Ōkami. According to the Kojiki, he is a son of Susanoo by his second wife, Kamu-Ōichihime (神大市比売).
107. Uke Mochi (保食神): A goddess of food, and in some traditions, described as the wife of Inari Ōkami. (Thus, she is sometimes portrayed as a fox too). Not much is known about her except she was slain by Moon God Tsukiyomi; the Moon God was disgusted by how Uke Mochi prepared a feast by spewing food from her various orifices. After her slaying, Tsukiyomi took the grains birthed by Uke Mochi and gave them new life. For the murder, Sun Goddess Amaterasu swore never to again face Tsukiyomi, thus why the day and night are forever separated.
108. Umisachi-Hiko (海幸彦): The eldest son of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, with his name meaning “gifts of the seas.” He is also referred to as Hoderi (火照). Famously, he was given a magical fishing hook by his father while his younger brother, Yamasachi-Hiko (see below), was given a magical bow. Dissatisfied with his hook, because he couldn’t fish when the seas were rough, Umisachi-Hiko insisted that his brother trade gifts with him. This turned out to be a big mistake, as the gifts were useless in the wrong hands. Worse, Yamasachi-Hiko even lost the fishing hook. Incensed, Umisachi-Hiko then demanded that his sibling retrieve the fishing hook or face death. It was while searching for the fishing hook that Yamasachi-Hiko met and married Toyotama Hime, the daughter of the Dragon God. Their grandchild would also be Emperor Jimmu. As for Umisachi-Hiko, he was defeated by his younger brother after the latter was given magical gems by the Dragon God. Jump forth to modern times, the descendants of Umisachi-Hiko i.e. the Hayato Tribe still serve the Japanese Imperial Palace. They do so as Umisachi-Hiko, after defeat, pledged eternal allegiance to his younger brother.
109. Wakahirume-no-Mikoto (稚日女尊): A divine seamstress of Amaterasu, sometimes also described as the Sun Goddess’ younger sister or daughter. During Susanoo’s final rampage in the heavenly plains, Wakahirume was so startled by the dead horse the Storm God flung onto her loom, she badly cut herself and died. Her death greatly contributed to Amaterasu’s decision to hide in a cave.
110. Wakasaname-no-Kami (若狭那売神): Goddess of the fields and a granddaughter of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
111. Wakaukanome-no-Kami (若宇加能売神): A goddess of water, streams, and agriculture. Also considered an alternate form of Toyōke-Ōmikami. She is regarded by some as the same as Ukanomitama.
112. Wakayamakui-no-Kami (若山咋神): A god of the mountains. Grandson of Ōtoshi-no-Kami.
113. Wakumusubi-no-Kami (和久産巣日神): An ancient God of Grains born from the urine of Izanami after the progenitor goddess died from giving birth to Kagutsuchi. In the Nihon Shoki, he is described as having produced silkworms and five types of grains from his body.
114. Yamasachi-Hiko (山幸彦): A younger son of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, with his name meaning “gifts of the mountains.” He is also referred to as Hoori (火折) and is the grandfather of Emperor Jimmu. For his full story, see above entry under Umisachi-Hiko.
115. Yamato Takeru (日本武尊): A son of the legendary twelfth Emperor of Japan, Yamato Takeru was a formidable albeit brutal warrior who was disliked by his father. He was dispatched by the emperor to deal with various enemies, expeditions in which the prince uniformly emerged victorious. After lamenting to the high priestess of the Ise Grand Shrine about his father’s dislike of him, he was given the legendary Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi sword to assist him in future expeditions. Yamato Takeru never became emperor and supposedly died in the 43rd year of his father’s reign. Following his death, the precious sword was placed at Atsuda Shrine, where it remains till today.
116. Yamatohime-no-Mikoto (倭姫命): The legendary high priestess who established Ise Grand Shrine. She is described as the daughter of the eleventh Japanese emperor, and chose Ise as the site after hearing the voice of Amaterasu.
117. Yanohahaki-no-Kami (矢乃波波木神): A folkloric Shinto God of the Hearth and Childbirth. Also credited with the power to remove calamities from homes. He is associated with brooms as brooms remove dirt i.e. defilement from homes.
118. Zama-no-Kami (座摩神): The five “column gods” of Shinto building traditions. All are also considered as gods of the mansion.
- Asuha-no-Kami (阿須波神)
- Hahiji-no-Kami (波比岐神)
- Ikui-no-Kami (生井神)
- Sakui-no-Kami (福井神)
- Tsunagaru-no-Kami (綱長井神)
Appendix: It's All About Lineage
Most entries above are based on writings in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki compendiums. In fact, many Shinto gods and goddesses are not mentioned in other ancient Japanese texts. Within these two compendiums, many are also only mentioned in passing.
As is obvious from the above entries, there is also a strong emphasis on lineage in both compendiums. One that stresses Japanese royalty i.e. the Yamato Dynasty, are the descendants of the gods.
Historians consider both compendiums as pseudo-historical, meaning they cannot be relied on for historical fact because mythology and the supernatural are heavy throughout the stories. As cultural and anthropological hints, though, the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki are invaluable. They suggest that that the Yamato Dynasty didn’t always dominate the Japanese Archipelago. They are also clues to the migratory movements within East Asia during ancient times.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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