Skip to content

A Norito for Noto

The National Association of Young Shinto Priests recently prepared and published two norito for use when praying for recovery from the 2024 Noto Earthquake. They can be downloaded (in Japanese, of course) from the association’s website. One of the norito is for use in jinja, while the other is for use at home, at one’s kamidana. I thought that my readers might be interested in the kamidama one, so I contacted one of the vice-presidents of the group, with whom I had worked on one of the projects through Jinja Honchō, to get permission. He checked with the association, and they were happy for me to do this.

Two things to be clear about before we begin. First, the norito was produced by the National Association of Young Shinto Priests, and has not been approved by Jinja Honchō. (They asked me to be clear about that.) There are norito that are issued with approval from Jinja Honchō, but there are specific internal procedures for that, and this norito hasn’t been through them. Jinja Honchō is very cautious about what it says officially, because it has 20,000 priests and the ujiko of 80,000 jinja to keep happy. (This is a very important reason why this blog is entirely personal and unofficial — even when I am not disagreeing with Jinja Honchō, it would be too much trouble to get approval.)

Second, my English interpretation is completely unofficial — it hasn’t even been approved by the National Association of Young Shinto Priests.

This article has two purposes. The first is to make the norito available for readers who have a kamidana and might want to use it. The second is to give everyone a look at what a short norito written for a particular purpose is like.

We will start with a transcription.

Korë no kamudoko ni masu kakëmakumo kashikoki Amaterasu Ōmikami Ubusuna no Ōkamitachi no ōmaë o orogamimatsuritë kashikomi kashikomi mo mōsaku Reiwa mutosë mutsuki tsuitachi niwakani okorishi Noto Hantō no nai ni të wazawai ni kurushimu morobitora yorozu no kurushimi ni yoku taëshinobi mi mo kokoro mo odai ni mamori michibiki tamaitë futatabi uruwashiku yutakëki sato ni kaësashimë tamaë to kashikomi kashikomi mo mōsu

I am not going to provide a full translation, because the differences in grammar make that difficult. Instead, I will explain what each clause means.

Korë no kamudoko ni masu: This is relative clause, saying that the kami following are in the kamidama, which is “kamudoko” here, in classical Japanese, at which the norito is being recited.

kakëmakumo kashikoki: This is a standard phrase placed before the names of kami, and often used at the beginning of norito. It means something like “whom it is fearful even to name”, but as a fixed phrase in archaic Japanese, I doubt that everyone who uses it interprets it in exactly the same way.

Amaterasu Ōmikami: Every kamidana is assumed to have a Jingū Taima, and thus enshrine Amaterasu Ōmikami. If yours does not, you should drop this.

Ubusuna no Ōkamitachi: “Ubusuna no kami” is another term for “ujigami”. The meanings were originally slightly different, but they are the same now. “Ōkamitachi” is explicitly plural (the “tachi” ending), so this is probably a generic way of referring to all the other kami enshrined on the kamidana. If your kamidana does not enshrine either Amaterasu Ōmikami or your local ujigami, then you could replace both these with the names of the kami or jinja for which you do have ofuda. Note that there are no linking particles, so you can just list them.

no ōmaë o orogamimatsuritë: “humbly venerating the great area in front of”. It is more polite to avoid speaking about doing anything, even veneration, directly to the kami, so the veneration is actually offered, grammatically, to the space in front of the kami. This is just a polite expression, however — the meaning is that the kami are being venerated.

kashikomi kashikomi mo mōsaku: “it is said with fear and trembling”. Another standard phrase, which appears in a different grammatical form at the end of this, and many other, norito. The -saku ending is used when you have not finished speaking. Again, this is a fixed phrase in archaic Japanese, and probably interpreted slightly differently by different priests.

Reiwa mutosë mutsuki tsuitachi: January 1st 2024, in old Japanese. “Reiwa” is the current era name, and “mutosë” is old Japanese for “year six”, because 2024 is the sixth year of Reiwa. “Mutsuki” is the old name for the first month of the year, and “tsuitachi” the old, and current, name for the first day of the month.

niwakani okorishi Noto Hantō no nai ni të: “Noto Hantō” is “Noto Peninsula”, and this is modern Japanese. There may well not be a standard old Japanese word for “peninsula” — Noto is old Japanese already, as it is one of the ancient province names. “Nai” is the archaic Japanese for “earthquake”, and I have never seen it used outside a norito. “Niwakani okorishi” means “that suddenly occurred”, while “ni të” are grammatical particles meaning, roughly, “due to”.

wazawai ni kurushimu morobitora: “Morobitora” means “all the various people”; it is a less polite explicit plural than the “tachi” used with Ōkami. This is old Japanese. “Wazawai ni kurushimu” means “suffering from the disaster”. “Wazawai” is also old Japanese, but still used today.

yorozu no kurushimi ni yoku taëshinobi: “Yorozu” is the old Japanese for “ten thousand”, and just means “many”; it appears in “yaoyorozu no kami” — the eight million kami. (“800 ten thousands”, which is still how you say “8 million” in modern Japanese.) “Kurushimi” is the noun for “sufferings”, and the end of the clause means “successfully endure”.

mi mo kokoro mo odai ni mamori michibiki tamaitë: “mi mo kokoro mo” means “body and soul”, and “odai ni” is “calmly, pleasantly, in a normal, everyday fashion”. “Mamori michibiki” means “protect and guide”, while “tamaitë” is a very polite expression for a superior doing something for an inferior. It is a standard suffix used in norito for the kami doing something for people, and the -të ending indicates that the sentence has not finished yet. This suffix makes it clear that the kami are doing the protecting and guiding of the people, and its absence in the previous clause makes it clear that the people are doing the enduring.

futatabi uruwashiku yutakëki sato ni kaësashimë tamaë: “futatabi” is “again”, in modern Japanese as well. “Uruwashiku” is archaic for beautiful and good, while “yutakëki” is an archaic form of the adjective meaning prosperous.”Sato” is normally translated as “village”, which is literally true of many settlements in the area, but it has strong nuances of “hometown”, even when it is not included in “furusato”, which is literally “hometown”. “Kaësashimë” is a polite form of the verb for “return, restore”. “Tamaë” is, once again, the polite suffix for kami doing things, but it is the imperative form. This is impossible to translate directly into English, because English does not have incredibly polite imperative forms. (English makes it polite by not using the imperative, but by saying something like “we would be profoundly grateful if you would be so good as to do us the honour of condescending to [restore our villages]”. “Tamaë” is a lot shorter.)

to kashikomi kashikomi mo mōsu: This is the polite phrase again, this time in the form for the end of the sentence. “To” is a quotation marker. In other words, grammatically you do not directly say the norito to the kami — you tell the kami that you are saying it. The fact that making something indirect makes it more polite is common between Japanese and English, even if the precise techniques involved differ.

While this is a very short norito, it has the standard structure, and you should now be able to recite the classical Japanese form while understanding what you are saying, if you so wish. The authors of the norito tell me that they would be delighted if it was used across the world to pray for the region’s recovery from the disaster.

I have a Patreon, where people join as paid members to receive an in-depth essay on some aspect of Shinto every month, or as free members to receive notifications of updates to this blog. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

6 thoughts on “A Norito for Noto”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I will read this in English (and my best Japanese) this morning at my Jinja during my morning veneration.

  2. Thank you for sharing! There’s something I’ve wondered about norito pronunciation for a while now. E.g. “kashikomi”. Usually, the “shi” would be slurred to create “kashkomi”, at least to my ears. But sometimes, outside of normal everyday speech, I hear Japanese enunciate every syllable. Is norito one of those times? Is it “”kashikomi” or “kashkomi”?

    1. Good question. My impression is that the “i” is still weak, even norito, so it sounds more like “kashkomi”. However, I confess that I haven’t specifically listened for that, so I might be misremembering.

  3. Thank you for posting this excellent and in depth analysis of norito language. Understanding the nuances makes for a fuller and more meaningful experience when chanting norito!

    1. You’re welcome. I do think that actual norito should be recited in archaic Japanese, especially as most Japanese people don’t really understand them either, but I agree with you that understanding what you are saying is a big help. Thank you for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.