Glossary

Amaterasu [a-ma-te-ra-su]: Goddess of the sun

Ayakashi [a-ya-ka-shi]: The collective name for yōkai that appear above the surface of a body of water, but in modern times ‘ayakashi’ has been used for vengeful spirits in general. They can possess individuals and make them suffer, and cause disease or even death. Other terms are: onryō for vengeful spirits, shiryō for dead spirits, and ikiryō for live spirits. For simplicity I used ‘ayakashi’ to refer to all vengeful spirits.

Hajimemashite [ha-dji-me-ma-shi-te]: “Nice to meet you.” Hajimemashite is usually the first step to introducing yourself in Japanese.

Honorifics:  

  • “-sama”: a highly respectful version used for: 1. people of a higher rank than oneself, 2. divinity, 3. one’s guests or customers and 4.sometimes toward people one greatly admires. “Kami-sama” is used when addressing to a god. You may have noticed this address when the kodama calls for the Inari god and asks to speak to him.
  • “-san”: the most commonplace honorific and is a title of respect typically used between equals of any age. Although the closest analog in English are the honorifics “Mr.”, “Miss”, “Ms.”, or “Mrs.”, -san is almost universally added to a person’s name; -san can be used in formal and informal contexts and for both genders.

Inari Ōkami [i-na-ri-o-o-ka-mi]: God Inari is the Japanese kami of foxes, of fertility, rice, tea, and sake, of agriculture and industry, of general prosperity and worldly success, and one of the principal kami of Shinto. In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of sword-smiths and merchants.

Izanagi [i-za-na-gi]: Male deity responsible for the creation of Japan, represents creation and life

Izanami [i-za-na-mi]: Female deity responsible for the creation of Japan, represents creation and death

Kanji [kan-dji]: Adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system

Kappa [ka-pa]: An amphibious yōkai demon found in traditional Japanese folklore. They are typically depicted as green, human-like beings with webbed hands and feet, with a turtle-like carapace on their backs.

Kimono [ki-mo-no]: traditional Japanese garment.

Kitsune [ki-tsu-ne]: Common red fox or shapeshifter fox yōkai. The more tails it has, the more powerful it is. Maximum number of tails is nine. 

Kodama [ko-da-ma]: Spirits in Japanese folklore that inhabit trees, similar to the dryads of Greek mythology. In this story, I’ve made the kodama agender and used they/them pronouns.

Kusanagi no Tsurugi [ku-sa-na-gi-no-tsu-ru-gi]: A legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, ‘Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds,’ but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (‘Grass-Cutting Sword’ or ‘Kusanagi the Grass Slasher’). In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor. 

Mofuku kimono [mo-fu-ku ki-mo-no]: Formal traditional mourning dress for men or women in Japan.

Okāsan [o-ka-a-san]: Mother.

Otōsan [o-to-u-san] or Otousan: Father

Shōgun [sho-o-gun]: Military rulers of Japan during the period from 1185 to 1868.

Tengu [ten-gu]: A type of legendary creatures found in Japanese folk religion, considered also a type of Shinto god or yōkai. They were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics.

Yōkai [yo-o-kai]: A class of supernatural monsters, spirits, and demons in Japanese folklore. Yōkai range diversely from the malevolent to the mischievous, and occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them.

Yōkai hana [yo-o-kai-ha-na]: Yōkai that live in a flower. Biko is a yōkai hana.

Yoroshiku [yo-ro-shi-ku]: informal version of “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” which means any of the below: “Be Kind to me”; “I am in your debt”; “Please take care of me”; “Nice to meet you”.