Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Norito (祝詞) are liturgical texts or ritual incantations in Shinto, usually addressed to a given kami.[1][2][3]



The first written documentation of norito dates to 712 CE in the Kojiki and 720 CE in the Nihongi.[3]

The Engishiki, a compilation of laws and minute regulation presented by the court compiled in 927 CE, preserves twenty-seven representative forms of norito.[4][5]



There is no single universally accepted theory to explain the meaning of the term.[6] One theory derives norito from noru (宣る, 'to declare'; cf. the verbs inoru 'to pray' and norou 'to curse'[6]) - combined with the suffix -to.[3] A variant term, notto, is derived from a combination of norito with koto, 'word'.[3]

There are various known ways of writing the word in kanji: aside from 祝詞 (currently the standard), 詔戸言, 詔刀言, and 諄辞 are also attested.[3]

One recent writer summed up the original meaning of norito as "a general term meaning magic by means of words."[7]

Form and content


The Shinto religion did not produce any writings, particularly those that inferred from myths and legends, that would have constituted a religious theology except for the norito.[8] (One should, however, note that the Kojiki and the Nihongi, while written primarily as historical works rather than sacred scriptures, do contain mythical narratives of the Shinto tradition.) These few prayers were primarily used in purification rituals and articulated gratitude towards the gods for the blessings of kami or to ask for climate change such as rain.[9]

Norito is a form of a rhythmic poem recited to facilitate the transmission of posterity.[9] The incantation would usually begin with praises for the supreme power of kami and concludes with an expression of respect and awe.[9] The Nakatomi no Harae Kunge or the Exposition of the Ritual of Purification describes norito within a process that implies the idea of human beings as children of the kami who lost their purity but who return to their divine origin by restoring it.[10]



Norito were (and still are) traditionally written in a variety of man'yōgana where particles and suffixes are written in a smaller script than the main body of the text.[11] This style of writing, used in imperial edicts (宣命 senmyō) preserved in the Shoku Nihongi and other texts dating from the 8th century (Nara period), is known as senmyōgaki.[12]

See also



  1. ^ Philippi, Donald L. (1990). Norito: A Translation of the Ancient Japanese Ritual Prayers. Princeton University Press. p. vii. ISBN 0691014892.
  2. ^ "Norito". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ a b c d e Motosawa, Masafumi. "Norito". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Kokugakuin University.
  4. ^ Philippi (1990). p. 1.
  5. ^ Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo (1987). On Understanding Japanese Religion. Princeton University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0691102290.
  6. ^ a b Philippi (1990). p. 2.
  7. ^ Shiraishi, Mitsukuni, cited in Philippi (1990). p. 2.
  8. ^ de Bary, William Theodore; Keene, Donald; Tanabe, George; Varley, Paul (2001). Sources of Japanese Tradition: From earliest times to 1600, Second Edition. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 336. ISBN 0231121385.
  9. ^ a b c Okuyama, Yoshiko (2015). Japanese Mythology in Film: A Semiotic Approach to Reading Japanese Film and Anime. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. p. 87. ISBN 9780739190920.
  10. ^ Picken, Stuart D. B. (2004). Sourcebook in Shinto: Selected Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0313264325.
  11. ^ Sinor, Denis, ed. (1969). American Oriental Society, Middle West Branch, Semi-Centennial Volume: A Collection of Original Essays. Indiana University Press. pp. 242–243. ISBN 978-0-253-39503-0.
  12. ^ Seeley, Christopher (1991). A History of Writing in Japan. Brill. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-9004090811.