Glossary of Shinto Names and Terms: Y

yamaboko 山鉾


festival floats.

See Basic Terms of Shinto: Yamaboko.


Yamata no orochi ヤマタノオロチ (記: 八岐遠呂智、紀: 八岐大?)


The eight-headed and eight-tailed dragon slain by Susanoo in the Kiki myths. When Susaono cut open the dragon's tail, a great sword appeared. This sword is known as kusanagi no tsurugi (grass-mower-sword), and eventually became one of the three regalia of the imperial family.


Yamato chôtei 大和朝廷



A name used to describe the first unified government in Japan. Up throught the 4th or 5th century it encompassed most of the territory of Japan except the northeast and Hokkaido.


Yamato hime no mikoto seiki 倭姫命世紀


Yamato hime no mikoto seiki.

One of the Shintô gobusho (Five Books of Shintô), a group of texts composed in the Kamakura period and serving as central works of medieval Ise Shintô (also called Watarai Shintô). Taking the format of a biography of Yamato hime no mikoto, the work explains the origin of the Ise Shrine.


Yamato no Ôkunitama ヤマトノオオクニタマ (紀: 倭大国魂(神))


The kami enshrined at Ôyamato Shrine. Another name for Ôkuninushi, the chief kami of the land of ÔYamato. Numerous theories exist regarding the kami's attributes.


Yamatotakeru ヤマトタケル (記: 倭建命、紀: 日本武尊)



An honorific title meaning strong man of Yamato bestowed on O-usu-no-mikoto, a prince appearing in the myths of the Kiki, the son of Emperor Keikô and a designated heir apparent. He was ordered by his father to subdue the unruly kami and people of the west. Disguised as a woman he vanguished Kumaso-takeru. He was then commanded to subdue the east.


Yanagita Kunio 柳田国男


(1875-1962). The father of Japanese ethnographic (folklore) studies, Yanagita studied agricultural economics at Tokyo Imperial University before entering the Argicultural Ministry. Later he embarked on an academic career. He held an honorary post with the Asahi Newspaper Co. and served on the League of Nations Mandate Committee. Yanagita was a prolific writer whose works include Nihon no matsuri (Japanese Festivals) and Senzo no hanashi (Tales of Our Ancestors).


Yano Harumichi 矢野玄道


(1823-87). A National Learning scholar of the Hirata School in the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. He advocated the establishment of an educational system and the development of a concept of the nation from the perspective of National Learning.


Yano Yûtarô 矢野祐太郎


(1881-1938). Founder of the new religion Shinsei Ryûjin-kai, an association of the early Shôwa period, which was not officially recognized by the government.


yashikigami 屋敷神


See Basic Terms of Shinto: Yashikigami.


Yasoshima matsuri 八十島祭


ritual of imperial dedication (ritual of many islands).

A ritual performed once in each reign from the ancient to medieval periods, in which an imperial messager was dispatched to the Nanba Coast (the mouth of the Yodo River) usually in the year following the Daijô-sai (enthronement ceremony) for a new emperor.


Yasukuni Jinja 靖国神社


Yasukuni Shrine.

A major shrine in Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo. Some 2,460,000 brave spirits who died in the service of the nation during the period from the end of the Tokugawa regime through WWII are enshrined there. Constructed in 1869 and called (until 1879) Tokyo Shôkonsha (Tokyo Memorial Shrine), it was originally for the purpose of honoring loyalists who gave their life in the restoration of imperial rule. Later it became a national shrine for collectively enshrining the spirits of those enshrined at local Memorial Shrines throughout the country. Visits to the shrine by leading government officials, either as private citizens or in an official capacity, have been a major source of controversy under the postwar constitution.


yomi 黄泉


See Basic Terms of Shinto: Yomi.


Yomotsukami ヨモツカミ (記: 黄泉神)


kami of the underworld.

The kami who rule Yomotsukuni (or Yomi), the land of the dead. In the Kojiki, Izanami is identified as Yomotsu Ôkami, the Great Kami of Yomi.


Yorozuhata Toyoakitsushihime no mikoto ヨロズハタ〔トヨアキツシ〕ヒメ (記: 万幡豊秋津師比売命、紀: 万幡豊秋津媛命、万幡姫)


Yorozu hataaki zushi hime Yorozu hata (toyoaki tsushi) hime.

A female kami appearing in the Kiki, linking later imperial decendants with the two kami, Amaterasu and Takamimusubi.


yuta ユタ


Okinawan shamaness.

A female shaman found on the Okinawa and Amami islands. Yuta are believed to experience possession and communicate with the kami or spirits of the dead. They also tell fortunes and perform faith-healings.