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Wooden Sculpture of Raijin at Sanjusangendo Temple Sanjusangendo Raijin.jpg
Wooden Sculpture of Raijin at Sanjusangendo Temple

Raijin(雷神), also known as Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami, Kaminari-sama, and Raiden-sama, is a god of lightning, thunder and storms in Japanese mythology and the Shinto religion. The name 'Raijin' is derived from the Japanese words kaminari (雷, meaning thunder) and kami (神, meaning god). Raijin is typically depicted with fierce and aggressive facial expressions, standing atop a cloud, and is shown beating on drums. The drums are often shown to have the symbol tomoe drawn on them. Raijin is often depicted as a protector and/or warrior figure within Japanese temples and shrines.

God Divine entity, supreme being and principal object of faith

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. The conceptions of God, as described by theologians, commonly include the attributes of omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful), omnipresence (all-present), and as having an eternal and necessary existence. Depending on one's kind of theism, these attributes are used either in way of analogy, or in a literal sense as distinct properties. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence". Psychoanalyst Carl Jung equated religious ideas of God with transcendental aspects of consciousness in his interpretation.

Lightning Atmospheric discharge of electricity

Lightning is a violent and sudden electrostatic discharge where two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves, usually during a thunderstorm.

Thunder sound caused by lightning

Thunder is the sound caused by lightning. Depending on the distance from and nature of the lightning, it can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble (brontide). The sudden increase in pressure and temperature from lightning produces rapid expansion of the air surrounding and within a bolt of lightning. In turn, this expansion of air creates a sonic shock wave, similar to a sonic boom, often referred to as a "thunderclap" or "peal of thunder".



Raijin is often depicted with a fierce, frightening face and a muscular figure with gravity-defying hair. He is surrounded by Taiko drums that he plays to create the sound of thunder. Raijin holds large hammers in his hands that he uses to play the drums. In some cases, Raijin is portrayed with three fingers which are said to represent the past, present and future. Two of the most notable sculptures of Raijin are located in the Sanjusangendo temple and the Taiyuin Rinnoji temple.

<i>Taiko</i> Japanese percussion instruments

Taiko(太鼓) are a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments. In Japanese, the term refers to any kind of drum, but outside Japan, it is used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums called wadaiko and to the form of ensemble taiko drumming more specifically called kumi-daiko. The process of constructing taiko varies between manufacturers, and preparation of both the drum body and skin can take several years depending on method.


Sanjūsangen-dō is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan.

Raijin and Fujin reside side by side in the Kaminarimon gate that guards the entrance to the Sanjusangendo temple. These sculptures are made of wood with lacquer, gold leaf and paint along with crystal, inlaid eyes. The Raijin and Fujin sculptures in Sanjusangendo are considered national treasures.


Fūjin (風神) or Futen is the Japanese god of the wind and one of the eldest Shinto gods.

Kaminarimon the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji

The Kaminarimon is the outer of two large entrance gates that ultimately leads to the Sensō-ji in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. The gate, with its lantern and statues, is popular with tourists. It stands 11.7 m tall, 11.4 m wide and covers an area of 69.3 m2. The first gate was built in 941, but the current gate dates from 1960, after the previous gate was destroyed in a fire in 1865.

Wood fibrous material from trees or other plants

Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin that resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, or it is defined more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also conveys water and nutrients between the leaves, other growing tissues, and the roots. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.

In the Taiyuin Rinnoji temple, Raijin and Fujin are located in the Niten-mon gate. They are made of wood with paint and are seen with their token talismans, Raijin's drums and Fujin's wind bag [1] .


Raijin was born from the divine pair Izanagi and Izanami after Japan was first created. Raijin came from Izanami's corpse when she was in Yomi, the land of darkness [2] . Izanami later sent Raijin and several female demons to chase after Izanagi, after he fled the image of her rotting form, to bring him back to Yomi [3] . Raijin has many siblings, most notably, Fujin (the god of wind), Kagutsuchi (the god of fire), Susanoo (the god of the sea), and Amaterasu (the goddess of the sun).

Izanagi Japanese god

Izanagi is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and his name in the Kojiki is roughly translated to as "he-who-invites". He is also known as Izanagi-no-mikoto or Izanagi-no-Ōkami.

Izanami goddess of Shinto religion

In Japanese mythology, Izanami no mikoto is a goddess of both creation and death, as well as the former wife of the god Izanagi-no-mikoto. She is also referred to as Izanami no kami.

Kagu-tsuchi or Kagutsuchi (カグツチ), referred to as Hinokagatsuchi (火之迦具土) in the Kojiki, and Kagutsuchi (軻遇突智) or Homusubi (火産霊) in the Nihon-Shoki, is the kami of fire in Japanese mythology.

Raijin is also often seen in the company of his brother, Fujin, and his son, Raitaro [4] . He is often seen fighting with Fujin, mending his drums, or causing mischief. He is also shown in the company of Raiju, a thunder-beast or thunder demon.

Raijū legendary creature from Japanese mythology

Raijū is a legendary creature from Japanese mythology.

Prayers to Raijin were mainly based upon agriculture as it was believed that rice that was struck by lightning would produce the best harvest.

Fujin-raijin-zu by Tawaraya Sotatsu, with Raijin shown on the left and Fujin right. Fujinraijin-tawaraya.jpg
Fūjin-raijin-zu by Tawaraya Sōtatsu, with Raijin shown on the left and Fūjin right.


In one legend, Raijin is shown to defend Japan against the invading Mongols. In this legend, the Mongols are driven off by a vicious storm in which Raijin is in the clouds throwing lightning and arrows at the invaders [5] .

Another legend depicts how a man named Sugaru (nicknamed the God-catcher) was ordered to catch the Thunder God Raijin and deliver him to the Emperor in order to stop a storm. Sugaru commands Raijin to cease the storm in the name of the Emperor but to no avail. Sugaru prayed to Kannon who later delivered Raijin to him. Sugaru then tied him up in a sack and took him to the Emperor [6] .

Modern role

Some Japanese parents tell their children to hide their belly buttons during thunderstorms so that Raijin doesn't take them away and eat them.

Raijin also appears in the kabuki play Narukami, in which he is imprisoned under a pool of water, thus causing a drought. [7]

See also

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  1. Pier, Garrett Chatfield (1914). Temple Treasures of Japan. F.F. Sherman.
  2. "THE KOJ-IKI". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  3. "THE KOJ-IKI". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  4. Joly, Henri L. (1908). Legend in Japanese Art: A Description of Historical Episodes, Legendary Characters, Folk-lore, Myths, Religious Symbolism, Illustrated in the Arts of Old Japan. John Lane.
  5. Joly, Henri L. (1908). Legend in Japanese Art: A Description of Historical Episodes, Legendary Characters, Folk-lore, Myths, Religious Symbolism, Illustrated in the Arts of Old Japan. John Lane.
  6. Joly, Henri L. (1908). Legend in Japanese Art: A Description of Historical Episodes, Legendary Characters, Folk-lore, Myths, Religious Symbolism, Illustrated in the Arts of Old Japan. John Lane.
  7. "May at the Kabukiza Theatre|Theatres". KABUKI WEB. Retrieved 2019-04-07.