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The name can be translated literally as "the month when there are no gods". In Shinto tradition it was said that the eight million gods of Japan left their shrines and congregated annually at Izumo Taisha. There the month was known as Kamiarizuki (神在月?), "the month when the gods are present". However, the 無 character, which normally means "absent" or "there is not", was here probably originally used as ateji, that is used only for the sound "na". In this name the na is actually a possessive particle, so Kaminazuki means "Month of the Gods", not "Month without Gods" (Kaminakizuki), similarly to Minatsuki, the "Month of Water". However, by false etymology this became commonly interpreted to mean that because in that month all the Shinto kami gather at Izumo Shrine in Izumo province (modern-day Shimane Prefecture), there are no gods in the rest of the country - with exception of Hiruko, who does not hear the summons and is thus still available for worship. Thus in Izumo Province, the month is called Kamiarizuki (神有月 or 神在月 "Month with Gods"?).
Until 1873, the tenth month of the lunar calendar largely overlapped with the modern month of November. However, after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in Japan in that year October became generally accepted as the "godless month".