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His name is derived from the Japanese words rai (雷?, "thunder") and "god" or "kami" (神 shin?). 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)
Raijin was created by the divine pair Izanami and Izanagi after the creation of Japan. There is a legend which says the eight lightning gods were charged with protection of the Dharma by the Buddha. This kind of syncretism is not unusual in Japan, even after the Buddha-kami separation order.
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.
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.
In the video game Ōkami, a ghost named Raiden makes a minor appearance. He has a lightning bolt on his head and is a source of lightning for Amaterasu.
In the video game Final Fantasy 8 two antagonists are named Raijin and Fujin and they use lightning and Wind based attacks respectively.
Raijin appears in the popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients as a lightning-themed hero. In the stand-alone sequel, Dota 2, Raijin has a greater resemblance to the Asian mythology. Raijin was imprisoned in the body of a man creating the playable character Raijin Thunderkeg, the Storm Spirit.
In the Season 2 of the hit TV series, Huntik: Secrets & Seekers, Raijin the Thunderbolt, a Titan with immense lightning and thunder abilities, is based off Raijin.
In the video game Silent Hill 3, there is an unlockable outfit for the player character Heather called "God of Thunder" that is inspired by Raijin.
In the roguelike game of NetHack, Raijin is the neutral god of the samurai pantheon.
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 the movie Pom Poko, in operation spector he makes a cameo appearance with fujji.
In the manga/anime Fairy Tail there is a group named 'Raijin Tribe' reflecting their leader's ability of a lightning dragon slayer.
In the World Of Warcraft 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/anime Naruto, there is a technique that allows teleportation from one set place to another called Flying Raijin, a lightning-wielding technique named Raijin, and techniques named Izanami and Izanagi.
In the boxing manga Hajime no Ippo, Ippo earns the nickname Fuujin, and Ichiro earns the nickname Raijin.
In the video game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, the official name for the game's protagonist (who can be renamed by the player) is Yu Narukami, reflecting the lightning powers used by his initial Persona Izanagi.
In the video game Smite, Raijin is an unlockable mage.
In the video game Fire Emblem Fates, one of the game's five sacred weapons is the sword Raijinto. This weapon, in the form of a traditional Japanese katana, is imbued with lightning powers and may only be wielded by the crown prince of Hoshido, the samurai warrior Ryoma. Ryoma's brother, Takumi, is the wielder of another sacred weapon, the bow Fujin Yumi.
The main antagonist of the 2016 animated film Kubo and the Two Strings is a re-imaging of Raiden, who describes himself as
- Black Thunder (chocolate bar)
- List of thunder gods
- Lei Gong, Chinese god of thunder
- Tenjin (kami), spirit related to natural disasters and scholarship
- Thor, Norse god of thunder
- Ashkenazi, Michael (2003). Handbook of Japanese Mythology. ABC-CLIO. p. 236. ISBN 978-1-57607-467-1. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Media related to Raijin at Wikimedia Commons
- 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