World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kodama (spirit)

Article Id: WHEBN0004200949
Reproduction Date:

Title: Kodama (spirit)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Princess Mononoke, Amatsuki, Shrines and Temples of Nikkō, Arkan Sonney, Mooinjer veggey
Collection: Deities, Spirits, and Mythic Beings, Japanese Legendary Creatures, Shinto Kami, Trees in Mythology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Kodama (spirit)

"Kodama" (木魅) from the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien

A kodama (木霊 or 木魂) is a spirit that lives in a tree. Also, trees with a kodama living in them are also called kodama (similar to the Dryad of Greek mythology).

Also, the phenomenon called yamabiko where sound is reflected after some delay from mountains and valleys is sometimes seen as the deed of this kind of spirit, and these are also called kodama.

Contents

  • Summary 1
  • In popular culture 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Summary

These spirits are considered to nimbly bustle about mountains at will. A kodama in its outer appearance looks very much like an ordinary tree, but when one attempts to cut it down, one would become cursed etc., and is thus considered to have some kind of mysterious supernatural power. Those trees that have kodama living in them are passed down by the elderly of that area over successive generations and protected, and it is also said that trees that have a kodama living in them are of certain kinds. There is also the theory that when old trees are cut, blood would come forth from them.[1]

Kodama is also something seen as something that can be understood as mountain gods, and a tree god from the old Kojiki, Kukunochi no Kami, has been interpreted as a kodama, and in the Heian period dictionary, the Wamyō Ruijushō, there is a statement on tree gods under the Japanese name "Kodama" (古多万). In The Tale of Genji, there are statements such as "is it an oni, a god (kami), a fox (kitsune), or a tree spirit (kodama)" and "the oni of a kodama," and thus, it can be seen that kodama are seen to be close to yōkai.[2] They are said to take on the appearance of atmospheric ghost lights, of beasts, and of humans, and there is also a story where a kodama who fell in love with a human, in order to meet that human, took on the appearance of a human.[3]

In Aogashima in the Izu Islands, shrines are created at the base of large sugi trees in the mountains and are worshipped to under the name "kidama-sama" and "kodama-sama," and thus the vestiges of belief in tree spirits can be seen.[2] Also, in the village of Mitsune on Hachijō-jima, whenever a tree is cut, there was a tradition that one must offer a festival to the tree's spirit "kidama-sama."[4]

On Okinawa, tree spirits are called "kiinushii," and whenever a tree is cut down, one would first pray to kiinushii and then cut it. Also, when the there is the echoing sound of what sounds like a fallen tree at the dead of night even thought here are no actual fallen trees, it is said to be the anguishing voice of kiinushii, and it is said that in times like these, the tree would then wither several days later. The kijimuna, which is known as a yōkai on Okinawa, is also sometimes said to be a type of kiinushii, or a personification of a kiinushii.[2][5]

In the collection of yōkai depictions, the Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien, under the title 木魅 ("kodama"), an aged man and woman are depicted standing alongside the trees, and here it is stated that when a tree has passed a hundred years of age, a divine spirit would come dwell inside it, and show its appearance.[6]

According to the 13th century Ryōbu Shinto manual Reikiki, kodama can be found in groups in the inner reaches of mountains. They occasionally speak, and can especially be heard when a person dies.[7]

In modern times, cutting down a tree which houses a kodama is thought to bring misfortune, and such trees are often marked with shimenawa rope.[8]

Worship of trees, first in Northern Europe, can also be seen in many countries other than Japan.

In popular culture

Kodama in Princess Mononoke

Kodama appear in the animated film Princess Mononoke, in which they are portrayed as small, white humanoids with large, rattling heads and mask-like features, similar to bobbleheads. In one scene, San (Princess Mononoke) chops down a sapling. They appear to crowd around it. Near the climax, when the trees begin to die, kodama can be seen falling from the air and dissolving on the ground. At the end, as the forest begins to grow back, a single Kodama can be seen walking out of the brush.

Kodama are presented as demons in the Megami Tensei series, and sometimes 'evolve' into Sudama.

The races found in the forest regions in the The Legend of Zelda games, such as the Kokiri from Ocarina of Time, the Koroks from The Wind Waker and the monkeys from Twilight Princess have been widely regarded as interpretations of the Kodama throughout the series' run.

See also

References

  1. ^ 草野巧 (1997). 幻想動物事典.  
  2. ^ a b c 今野円輔編著 (1981). 日本怪談集 妖怪篇.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ 萩原龍夫 (1977) [1955]. 民俗学研究所編, ed. 綜合日本民俗語彙 第1巻.  
  5. ^  
  6. ^  
  7. ^ 叶精二 "「もののけ姫」を読み解く" Tokyo: Comic Box, 1997
  8. ^  

External links

  • Kodama – The Tree Spirit at hyakumonogatari.com (English).


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.