His name is derived from the Japanese words rai (雷, meaning ‘thunder’) and shin (神, ‘god’ or 'kami'). He is typically depicted as a demon-looking spirit beating drums to create thunder, usually with the symbol tomoe drawn on the drums. He is also known by the following names:
- Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami: Yakusa (八, eight) and ikazuchi (雷, thunder) and kami (神, spirit or deity)
- Kaminari-sama: kaminari (雷, kaminari, thunder) and -sama (様, a Japanese honorific meaning "master")
- Raiden-sama: rai (雷, thunder), den (電, lightning), and -sama (様, master)
- Narukami: naru (鳴, thundering/rolling) and kami (神, spirit or deity)
According to Kojiki, eight kinds Raijin(Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami) was born from Izanami. The "eight kinds of thunder kami" that festered inside Izanami's corpse as seen by her consort Izanagi in the underworld of Yomi. Suffering mortal injury from giving birth to the fire kami Kagutsuchi, Izanami died and went to the underworld, where she was followed by Izanagi. Disobeying Izanami's warning not to look upon her, Izanagi lit a torch and saw her rotting body swollen and covered with maggots, and inhabited by the "eight thunder kami."
In Japanese culture
Some Japanese parents tell their children to hide their belly buttons (or navels) during thunderstorms. This is due to a folk belief that Raijin is sometimes credited with eating the navels or abdomen of children, and in the event of thunder, parents traditionally tell their children to hide their navels so that they are not taken away. Raijin's companion is the demon Raiju. In Japanese art, the deity is known to challenge Fūjin, the wind god.
Raijin is a well-known deity and his fame has spawned characters in many forms of Japanese media. He is often mocked, for example in an episode of Kyorochan, or in Katamari Damacy where he is one of the largest and most valuable objects in the game that the Prince can roll into his damashi ball of trash. In the tokusatsu series Madan Senki Ryukendo, all three Madan Warriors, right after transforming, say their names followed by the word "Raijin!", which stands for "wake up!" or "stand up!". He also appears in a minor role in the Japanese role playing game Final Fantasy VIII as one of Seifer Almasy's henchmen.
In Western culture, Raijin is usually known as Raiden (rai (雷, thunder) + den (電, lightning)), and depicted as a tall monk wearing a large straw hat (these hats are used widely throughout Asia to keep off rain), with the power to create storms, thunder, and lightning. The first use of this archetype was an appearance with other Eastern elemental gods in the 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China, though Lei Gong, a similar Chinese god, might have influenced the character in the film.
It entered mainstream pop culture with an adaptation of Raiden in the 1992 fighting game Mortal Kombat. He is somewhat similar to his appearance in Big Trouble In Little China, and repeated depictions of the character in multiple games in the series, making him widely recognizable in the United States.
In Hideo Kojima's video game franchise Metal Gear, a character named Jack, codename Raiden, possesses extraordinary abilities, using a katana as his weapon and, later, uses lightning powers to an extent.
In Eiichiro Oda's One Piece, the main antagonist in the "Skypiea" arc, "Enel" [Sometimes known as "Eneru"] is loosely based on Raijin. He ate the Devil's Fruit "Goro Goro no Mi" granting him the powers of lightning, and carries a ring of Drums on his back.
Raijin was referred as the Nakamura Rai-jin turbo in Burnout Paradise.
In Dota 2 Raijin was imprisoned in the body of a man creating the playable character Raijin Thunderkeg, the Storm Spirit.
In the movie Pom Poko, in operation spector he makes a cameo appearance with fujji.
In the manga/anime Fairy Tail there is a tribe named 'Raijin Tribe' reflecting their leader's ability of a lightning dragon slayer.
In the World Of Warcrafts Mists of Pandaria Expansion Pack, the completion of the final Throne of thunder heroic raid awards a bonus boss for the high-end raiders who have finished the main zone progression. His name is Ra-Den, Ra-den is a Titanic Watcher assigned to Pandaria and is labeled as the fallen keeper of the storms.
In the manga series Naruto, there is a technique that allows teleportation from one set place to another called Flying Raijin.
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- Ashkenazi, Michael (2003). Handbook of Japanese Mythology. ABC-CLIO. p. 236. ISBN 978-1-57607-467-1. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Netsuke: masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains many representations of Raijin