God of Earthquakes

[ . BACK to Daruma Museum TOP . ]

The Super Earthquake March 11, 2011

magnitude 9:0

. Tohoku region Pacific Ocean offshore earthquake .

earthquake night -
the stars are as silent
as ever

The posts are in reverse order of the date.
Use the Monthly archives to start from the start.

. Too many Aftershocks .  

My home is about 1000 km away from the atomic reactors.
We live high up in the mountains, no worry about tsunami.

and an earthquake talisman 地震御守

External LINK
. Geiger Counter for Tokyo .


Nai no kami 地震神
The Japanese god of earthquakes.

nai no kami ないのかみ / なゐの神【地震神】
deity of earthquakes

by Mori Mizue
A kami worshiped following disastrous earthquakes.
The earliest historical record of an earthquake in Japan appears in a poem included in Nihongi's account of Emperor Buretsu, but the first record of an earthquake kami and its worship comes from Nihongi's records of the reign of Empress Suiko.

In summer of the seventh year of her reign (599 C.E.), a temblor struck the capital regions, and an order was issued to offer worship to the kami of earthquakes, although no title is given to any specific kami to be worshiped.

In later periods, the transmission of legends regarding the "pivot stone" (kanameishi) at the shrine Kashima Jingū led to the belief that the shrine's central deity Takemikazuchi was a protector against earthquakes, and identifications were also made with kami of the "landlord deity" (jinushigami) type.

The mythologies transmitted by Kojiki and Nihongi, however, provide no descriptions of kami with clear attributes as protective tutelaries against earthquakes, and the original deity may have been related to Chinese Onmyōdō (Yin-Yang) beliefs.

Some have suggested that Nai Jinja in Nabari of Iga Province (a shikinaisha or shrine listed in the Engishiki) was dedicated to this kami.
source : Kokugakuin University, 2005


jishin mushi 地震虫 (じしんむし) earthquake bug

This mythical animal is mentioned in the Nihon Shoki volume about Suiko Tenno 推古天皇紀.
In the year 599 there was a huge earthquake in the region of Nara, so the Tenno ordered the "God of Earthquakes" Nai no Kami「地震神」(なゐのかみ) to be venerated in the country.
The name refers to the attribute of the deity, like the "god of the fields 野の神", or the "god of the sea 海の神".

This deity was later venerated at the shrine Kashima Jingu.

CLICK for source, www10.palala.or


Takemikazuchi no mikoto (武甕槌大神)

Tekemikazuchi standing on a catfish

the "rough spirit" (aramitama) of Amaterasu ōmikami

He holds down the God of the Earthquake, here in the form of a huge catfish, and sits on the famous "key stone" "kaname ishi 要石".

A giant catfish (namazu) lived in mud beneath the earth. The catfish liked to play pranks and could only be restrained by Kashima, a deity who protected the Japanese people from earthquakes. So long as Kashima kept a mighty rock with magical powers over the catfish, the earth was still. But when he relaxed his guard, the catfish thrashed about, causing earthquakes.

by Kadoya Atsushi
A kami produced from the blood adhering to the sword when Izanagi killed the fire kami Kagutsuchi. Together with Amanotorifune (Kojiki) or Futsunushi no kami (Nihongi), Takemikazuchi descended to the land of Izumo and entreated Ōkuninushi to transfer the land (kuniyuzuri) to the heavenly kami.

Kojiki adds that he engaged in a test of strength with Takeminakata, the child of Ōkuninushi, who had opposed the heavenly forces. Subduing Takeminaka, he drove him away to Suwa in the province of Shinano (present-day Nagano).

On the occasion of Emperor Jinmu's eastern campaign, Takemikazuchi deferred from descending to aid Jinmu, but in his place sent his sword Futsunomitama, in this way aiding Jinmu's forces in their successful pacification of the land. Takemikazuchi is worshiped at Kashima, Kasuga and other shrines.
source : Kokugakuin University, 2005

Kashima Shinko 鹿島信仰
The Faith related to Kashima
. Kashima Shrine 鹿島神宮 Kashima Jingu .  

Kashima Torii 鹿島鳥居 Kashima Shrine Gate

It broke down during
the super earthquake on March 11, 2011.


. . . . .

yurugu tomo yomoya nukeji no kaname ishi
Kashima no kami no aran kagiri wa

As long as the Kashima deity is with us,
the pivot stone may wobble but it will not break.

ゆるぐとも よもや抜けじの要石 鹿島の神のあらん限りは

People in Edo used to say this poem three times, then write in on a slip of paper and past in on the door of their home. This would protect the house of earthquake damage.

This poem is not from the Manyo-Shu, but from another book publishes most probably in 1663.

The poem appears on the last page of volume 3 of Asai Ryôi's Kanameishi, a kanazôshi published ca. Kanbun 3 (1663) concerning the earthquake that struck Kyoto on the first day of the fifth month of Kanbun 2 (1662). Asai Ryôi describes the poem as a zokuka 俗歌 (a popular verse) and simply identifies it as
"mukashi no hito no uta" (a poem by a person of old).
source : PMJS discussion group


Nai jinja 名居神社(ないじんじゃ)shrine Nai Jinja

CLICK for more photos

In the town Nabari 名張市下比奈知 宮ノ谷 in Iga, Mie prefecture.
The pronounciation may have changed from nafuri to nahori to nabari to nai.

The deity Ooanamuchi no Mikoto 大己貴命 おおあなむち‐の‐みことis venerated.
He used to be a Kunitsu Daimyojin 国津大明神 (the god of the earthly realm).

also venerated the deities :

Sukunahiko no mikoto 少彦名命(スクナヒコナノミコト)
Amenokoyane no mikoto天児屋根命(アメノコヤネノミコト)
Kotoshironushi no mikoto事代主命(コトシロヌシノミコト)
Ichikishima hime no mikoto 市杵嶋姫命(イチキシマヒメノミコト)
Hiruko no mikoto 蛭子命(ヒルコノミコト)

This is a shrine dedicated to the deity of earthquakes,
jishin no kami 地震の神.

. Namazu なまず/ 鯰 catfish in legends and toys .


god of earthquakes -
what does it take
to keep you quiet ?

Thank you, Origa san, for your haiga.
Let us hope Nai no Kami accepts this offering.


The Super Earthquake March 11, 2011
magnitude 9:0
with a huge tsunami of more than 10 meters
. Tohoku region
Pacific Ocean offshore earthquake .



[ . BACK to TOP of this BLOG. ]


  1. Kashima's ancient rock of faith
    The god of quake prevention offers some age-old comfort in these unsteady times

    Special to The Japan Times

    Long before the theory of plate tectonics emerged in the 20th century to explain the mechanism behind earthquakes, Japanese folklore had attributed the terrifying phenomenon to the thrashings of the o-namazu — a giant catfish that inhabited the bowels of the Earth.

    News photo
    Shrine sights: The 400-year-old Oku Miya Shrine. JON MITCHELL PHOTOS

    And the sole power that prevents this fish from bucking the country to pieces is, according to ancient lore, Takemikazuchi — a Shinto deity living in Kashima, in present-day Ibaraki Prefecture — who balances rodeolike atop the o-namazu and holds down a massive "pivot stone" on the fish's head.

    "As long as Kashima's deity is with us," says a verse from the eighth-century book of Japanese poems, the "Manyoshu," "the pivot stone may wobble but it will not break."

    While the Shinto gods are invisible to mere mortals like us, the stone is thoroughly temporal — and is located in the grounds of Kashima Jingu, one of Japan's largest shrines.

    With the devastation of March 11's megaquake and tsunami having tested the faith of many, I decided to pay a visit to the stone to see how it had weathered the past few weeks since catastrophe hit the Tohoku region of northeastern Honshu.

    As the bus approached the outskirts of Kashima, things did not look hopeful. Here, six weeks after the event, damaged residential rooftops were still draped with tarpaulin sheets and large shipping containers sat askew in fields where they'd been carried by the two-meter tsunami.

    Situated on higher ground, Kashima Jingu had escaped the wave, but two mounds of sand were now piled where once the pillars of its 10-meter-high torii gate had stood.

    "The first quake (on March 11) cracked the granite torii," explained 71-year-old Masayoshi Tsuda. "Then a few minutes later, a large aftershock brought it down. Luckily nobody was injured."

    Ibaraki-native Tsuda, a volunteer guide at Kashima Jingu for almost a decade, said that he was accustomed to showing dozens of tour groups around the shrine. "But now nobody comes. Everybody is too afraid of the aftershocks — not to mention the fear of radiation."

    As his fellow guides despondently packed away their maps and flags for the day, Tsuda seemed happy to be able to show somebody around.

    Walking me beneath the towering cedars and Japanese cypresses in the shrine's grounds, he explained that Takemikazuchi, in addition to subduing the ill-tempered catfish, was also the guardian deity of thunder, swords and warfare. Over the centuries, he said, countless warriors have called upon the god to help them to win battles.

    "It's believed that Jimmu Tennou (the first Emperor of Japan) asked for Takemikazuchi's help when he attempted to seize power in Yamato (present-day Nara Prefecture)," explained Tsuda. "The god sent a magical sword which enabled Jimmu to defeat his enemies and establish his rule. In appreciation, Jimmu ordered Kashima Jingu to be built — which would make this shrine more than 2,600 years old."

    Although Tsuda is the first to question the historical accuracy of the account, the donations of other grateful followers of Takemikazuchi are irrefutable.

    to be continued

  2. continued from Japan Times

    Among the shrine's seven buildings currently listed as important cultural assets is Oku Miya — a small wooden, worship hall. Dating back to 1605, the building was bestowed by the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu (1543-1616), to thank Takemikazuchi for his help in defeating Toyotomi Hideyoshi's forces at the epic Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, so enabling him to become the first ruler of a unified Japan. Indeed, so grateful was the new shogun that over the next 85 years, his Tokugawa clan donated many other buildings to the shrine.

    Such powerful patronage hints at devotees' deep-seated respect for Takemikazuchi, and as I approached the Oku Miya hall, jovial Tsuda turned momentarily serious. "Be careful. Takemikazuchi is at his most savage here," he cautioned. "When you clap, do so quietly. And lay your coin gently in the offertory box so as not to incur his wrath."

    Following Tsuda's advice, I said my prayers as docilely as possible and then I was led by the guide to a statue of this fearsome god. Based on a 19th-century woodblock print, the statue presented Takemikazuchi dressed in samurai armor, drilling a sword into the head of the ill-tempered catfish.

    Images such as this became much sought-after in the immediate aftermath of a November 1855 earthquake that partially leveled Edo (present-day Tokyo). In the ruins of the city, dozens of artists churned out talismans depicting Takemikazuchi's struggles with the o-namazu. These prints quickly went viral among the traumatized Edoites, who were desperate for some comfort during the subsequent months of teeth-rattling aftershocks.

    However, it was beyond the statue of Takemikazuchi that the goal of my pilgrimage was to be found — the so-called pivot stone itself.

    My first impression was disappointing. Rather than the linchpin that stopped Japan from splitting, the stone emerged from the ground like a dimpled bowling ball. Despite its underwhelming appearance, though, a steady stream of visitors lined up at the stone — making it by far the busiest spot on the deserted shrine grounds.

    One young man explained that he'd driven nonstop from Saitama City just north of Tokyo as soon as he'd read about the stone on the Internet. "I wanted to reassure myself that it was still here — and that it hadn't cracked," he earnestly declared. Then, leaning over the fence, he squinted at the rock for a long moment before, seemingly satisfied that it was intact, he smiled with relief.

    As though to emphasize her point, just then early-warning earthquake alarms sounded on some of the visitors' mobile phones.

    Pavlov-conditioned, I dropped to the ground and clasped my notebook over my head — but nearby, the worshippers continued their prayers regardless. When the tremor struck a second later it barely swayed the branches of the tall cedar trees.

    Embarrassed, I brushed the dirt from my knees and asked Tsuda the question that had been on the tip of my tongue all morning: Whether he really believed in the tales of Takemikazuchi and the catfish.

    The guide gestured to the shrine's wooden buildings. "Most of these structures are over 400 years old, but none of them were seriously damaged in the (March 11) quake. Credit the gods if you want, but what's certain is that Kashima Jingu has a great deal of natural power."

    Tsuda must have noticed the skeptical expression on my face, because he invited me to walk with him back to the main entrance of the shrine. There, he paused outside Suzusho — a restaurant that has been in business since 1897. For a moment I wondered why Tsuda had stopped, but then he showed me the menu in its window boasting hotpots, grills and tempura — all made from freshly caught catfish.

    "I recommend the namazu sashimi," said Tsuda. "Washed down with plenty of local sake, it's guaranteed to calm your nerves."