List of Japanese deities

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This is a list of divinities native to Japanese beliefs and religious traditions. Many of these are from Shinto, while others were imported via Buddhism or Taoism and were "integrated" into Japanese mythology and folklore.

Major kami[edit]

The Amaterasu-Ōmikami emerges from the Heavenly Rock Cave Shunsai Toshimasa [ja] (春斎年昌)
  • Amaterasu-Ōmikami (天照大神), she is the goddess of the sun as well as the purported ancestress of the Imperial Household of Japan. Her name means “Shines from Heaven” or “the great kami who shine Heaven". For many reasons, one among them being her ties to the Imperial family, she is often considered (though not officially) to be the "primary god" of Shinto.[1][2]
  • Ame-no-Uzume (天宇受売命 or 天鈿女命) Commonly called Uzume, she is the goddess of dawn and revelry in Shinto.[3]
  • Fūjin (風神) Also known as Kaze-no-kami, he is the Japanese god of the wind and one of the eldest Shinto gods, said to have been present at the creation of the world. He is often depicted as an oni with a bag slung over his back.
  • Hachiman (八幡神) is the god of war and the divine protector of Japan and its people. Originally an agricultural deity, he later became the guardian of the Minamoto clan. His symbolic animal and messenger is the dove.
  • Inari Ōkami (稲荷大神) The god or goddess of rice and fertility. Their messengers and symbolic animal are foxes . They are often identified with Ukanomitama and Buddhist deity Dakiniten.[4]
  • Ninigi-no-Mikoto (瓊瓊杵尊) Commonly called Ninigi, he was the grandson of Amaterasu. His great-grandson was Kan'yamato Iwarebiko, later known as Emperor Jimmu , the first emperor of Japan.
  • Ōmononushi in the Nihongi, Ōmononushi was considered an alternate name for Ōkuninushi. But, it appears that the two were separate kami.[5]
  • Ōkuninushi (大国主) A god of nation-building, farming, business, and medicine.
  • Omoikane (思兼) The deity of wisdom and intelligence, who is always called upon to "ponder" and give good counsel in the deliberations of the heavenly deities.
  • Raijin (雷神) is the god of thunder and lightning and is often paired with Fūjin. As with the latter, Raijin is usually depicted as an oni.
  • Ryūjin (龍神) Some versions consider him and Ōwatatsumi as the same god, he is a dragon, as well as god of the sea.[6]
  • Suijin (水神) The God of Water.
  • Susanoo-no-Mikoto (須佐之男命 or 素戔嗚尊) is a god of storms, as well as the ruler of the sea in some cases. He is also somewhat of a trickster god, as Japanese mythology extensively documents the "sibling rivalry" between him and Amaterasu. Susanoo was also responsible for the slaying of the monster Yamata no Orochi and the subsequent discovery of the sacred sword Kusanagi.[7]
  • Takemikazuchi, known as a god of thunder and the god of swords.
  • Takeminakata, god of wind, water and agriculture, as well as a patron of hunting and warfare.
  • Tamanoya, a kami believed to be the creator of Yasakani no Magatama.[8]
  • Toyotama-hime (豊玉姫) was the daughter of Ryūjin and the grandmother of Jimmu. It is said that after she gave birth to her son, she turned into a dragon and disappeared.
  • Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto (月読命 or 月夜見尊) is the god of the moon. He killed Ukemochi, out of disgust and anger in the way she had prepared a meal. This caused Amaterasu never to face him again, causing the sun and moon to be in different parts of the sky.


  • Izanami: (伊邪那美神) was a creation deity; she makes up the seventh generation of the Kamiyonanayo, along with her husband and brother, Izanagi.[9]
  • Kuninotokotachi (国之常立神) was a deity classified as a hitorigami. He was, by himself, the first generation of the Kamiyonanayo. He was considered one of the first two gods, according to the Kojiki, or one of the first three gods, according to the Nihan Shoki.[10]
  • Omodaru and Ayakashikone: (淤母陀琉神 and 阿夜訶志古泥神) Sixth generation of the Kamiyonanayo.[11]
  • Otonoji and Otonobe: (意富斗能地神 and 大斗乃弁神) Fifth generation of the Kamiyonanayo.
  • Toyokumono: (豊雲野神) was a hitorigami, and constituted the second generation of the Kamiyonanayo.
  • Tsunuguhi and Ikuguhi: (角杙神 and 活杙神) Fourth generation of the Kamiyonanayo.
  • Uhijini and Suhijini: (宇比邇神 and 須比智邇神) Third generation of the Kamiyonanayo.

Minor kami[edit]



  • Umashi'ashikabihikoji (宇摩志阿斯訶備比古遅神) - Energy
  • Amenotokotachi (天之常立神) - Heaven

People worshipped as kami[edit]

This section includes historical people worshipped as kami.

All Emperors and Empresses of Japan are technically worshipped because of their descent from Amaterasu Ōmikami, but there are many esteemed and highly revered ones who are not enshrined.


  • Aizen Myō-ō (愛染明王), a Wisdom King known to transform earthly desires (love/lust) into spiritual awakening.
  • Amida Nyorai (無量光佛 or 無量壽佛), commonly referred to as Amida-butsu (阿弥陀如来), he is the primary Buddha of the Pure Land school of Buddhism. He is believed to possess infinite meritorious qualities and is known as the "Lord of the Beyond and the Afterlife." He is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.
  • Daruma (達磨), traditionally held in Buddhist mythology to be the founder of Zen Buddhism, as well as the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu. One legend reports that after years of facing a wall in meditation, Bodhidharma's legs and arms fall off due to atrophy. Daruma dolls were created in honor of this legend.
  • Fudō Myōō (不動明王), a fierce and wrathful Wisdom King who protects all by burning away impediments and defilements, and aiding them towards enlightenment.
  • Idaten (韋駄天), guardian of Buddhist monasteries and monks.
  • Jizō (地蔵), a Bodhisattva known as the protector of the vulnerable, especially children, travelers, and expectant mothers. He is also regarded as the patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses and the savior of hell-beings. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards.
  • Kangiten, god (deva) of bliss.
  • Kannon (観音), a Bodhisattva associated with compassion. Commonly known in English as the "Goddess of Mercy."
  • Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来), a Buddha known for healing and medicine.

Seven Lucky Gods[edit]

The Seven Lucky Gods (by Yoshitoshi)

The Seven Lucky Gods (七福神, Shichi Fukujin) are:

  • Benzaiten (弁才天 or 弁財天) Also known as Benten or Benzaitennyo, she is the goddess of everything that flows: words (and knowledge, by extension), speech, eloquence, and music. Said to be the third daughter of the dragon-king of Munetsuchi, over the course of years, she has gone from being a protective deity of Japan to one who bestows good fortune upon the state and its people. He was derived from Saraswati, the equivalent Hindu goddess.[39]
  • Bishamonten (毘沙門天) Also called Bishamon or Tamonten, he is the god of fortunate warriors and guards, as well as the punisher of criminals. Said to live halfway down the side of Mount Sumeru, the small pagoda he carries symbolizes the divine treasure house that he both guards and gives away its contents. Bishamonten is the Japanese equivalent of the Indian Kubera and the Buddhist Vaishravana.[40][41]
  • Daikokuten (大黒天) Often shortened to simply Daikoku, he is variously considered to be the god of wealth (more specifically, the harvest), or of the household (particularly the kitchen). He is recognized by his wide face, smile, and flat black hat. He is often portrayed holding a golden mallet, seated on bales of rice, with mice nearby (which signify plentiful food).
  • Ebisu (恵比須, 恵比寿, 夷 or 戎) The sole member of the gods believed to have originated in Japan, he was originally known as Hiruko (蛭子), the first child of Izanagi and Izanami. Said to be born without bones, he eventually overcame his handicaps to become the mirthful and auspicious Ebisu (hence one of his titles, "The Laughing God"). He is often depicted holding a rod and a large red sea bream or sea bass. Jellyfish are also associated with this god, and the fugu restaurants of Japan will often incorporate Yebisu in their motif.
  • Fukurokuju (福禄寿) Often confused with Jurōjin, he is the god of wisdom and longevity and said to be an incarnation of the Southern Polestar. He is a star god accompanied by a crane and a turtle, which are considered to be symbols of longevity, and also sometimes accompanied by a black deer. The sacred book tied to his staff is said to contain the lifespan of every person on Earth.
  • Hotei (布袋) Best known in the Western world as the Laughing Buddha, Hotei is likely the most popular of the gods. His image graces many temples, restaurants and amulets. Originally based on a Chinese Chan monk, Hotei has become a deity of contentment and abundance.
  • Jurōjin (寿老人) Also known as Gama, he represents longevity. He is often seen with a fan and a staff and accompanied by a black deer.

The goddess Kichijōten (吉祥天), also known as Kisshoutennyo, is sometimes considered to be one of the seven gods,[42] replacing either Jurōjin or Fukurokuju.[43] She embodies happiness, fertility and beauty. Daikoku sometimes manifests as a female known as Daikokunyo (大黒女) or Daikokutennyo (大黒天女).[44] When Kisshoutennyo is counted among the seven Fukujin[43] and Daikoku is regarded in feminine form,[44] all three of the Hindu Tridevi goddesses are represented in the Fukujin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (2013-07-04). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96397-2.
  2. ^ "Amaterasu". Mythopedia. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  3. ^ "Ame-no-Uzume". Mythopedia. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  4. ^ "Japanese Gods". Mythopedia. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Ōmononushi". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  6. ^ "Ryujin". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  7. ^ "Susanoo | Description & Mythology". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  8. ^ "Akihito and Japan's Imperial Treasures that make a man an emperor". BBC News. 2019-04-27. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  9. ^ a b Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A. Cosimo, Inc. 2008-01-01. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-60520-145-0.
  10. ^ Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A. Cosimo, Inc. 2008-01-01. ISBN 978-1-60520-145-0.
  11. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Omodaru, Ayakashikone". Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  12. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Amatsumara". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  13. ^ Herbert, Jean (2010-10-18). Shinto: At the Fountainhead of Japan. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-90376-2.
  14. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Amenohohi". Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  15. ^ Encyclopedia of Shinto
  16. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Tajikarao". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  17. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Futodama". Retrieved 2020-11-07.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Bocking, Brian (2005-09-30). A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-79739-3.
  20. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Kawanokami". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  21. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Kagutsuchi". Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  22. ^ a b c Holiday, Frederick (2021-07-09). World Mythology Lite. Frederick Holiday. p. 158.
  23. ^ "Kukunochi • A History of Japan - 日本歴史". A History of Japan - 日本歴史. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  24. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Mitsuhanome". Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  25. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Nakisawame". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  26. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Shinatsuhiko".
  27. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Tamayorihime". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  28. ^ Hartz, Paula (2014-05-14). Shinto. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-1679-2.
  29. ^ Roberts, Jeremy (2009). Japanese Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-2802-3.
  30. ^ "Toyo'uke – Goddess of Food worshiped at Ise". 國學院大學. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  31. ^ Picken, Stuart D. B. (2010-12-28). Historical Dictionary of Shinto. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7372-8.
  32. ^ Roberts, Jeremy (2009). Japanese Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4381-2802-3.
  33. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (2013-07-04). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3.
  34. ^ "Ryujin". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  35. ^ Roberts, Jeremy (2009). Japanese Mythology A to Z. Infobase Publishing. p. 122. ISBN 978-1-4381-2802-3.
  36. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Wakahirume". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  37. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Kami in Classic Texts : Konohanasakuyahime". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  38. ^ "Sugawara Michizane | Japanese scholar and statesman". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  39. ^ Catherine Ludvik (2001), From Sarasvati to Benzaiten, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, National Library of Canada; PDF Download
  40. ^ "Bishamon | Japanese god". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  41. ^ "lokapala | Definition & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  42. ^ "Kisshōten (Kichijōten)". Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  43. ^ a b "Butsuzōzui (Illustrated Compendium of Buddhist Images)" (digital photos) (in Japanese). Ehime University Library. 1796. p. (077.jpg).
  44. ^ a b "Butsuzōzui (Illustrated Compendium of Buddhist Images)" (digital photos) (in Japanese). Ehime University Library. 1796. p. (059.jpg).

External links[edit]

Media related to Japanese deities at Wikimedia Commons