Monthly Archives: December 2018


Wakahirume (Wakahime) was the daughter of Isanami and Isanagi. She is the lady of waka poetry and song. She lived a life full of music and beauty, and did much in service to her people. This remarkable woman has left her name in Wakayama prefecture. Wakahime was a central figure in the chronicles of Wosite. She knew all the major players in the history of early Yamato in the Land of Wosite. Wakahime was forever young as waka “young” implies. Waka also means poetry, and she was known for her poetry. She taught the Awanouta song, also called Wakauta, to promote good speech and good health. She was skilled in the technology of extracting ni from the red cinnabar sand to make the vermillion coating for wooden structures such as torii. For this, she is remembered as Niutsuhime, lady of niu. She spread the technology of agriculture to her people. And, because she was always smiling and laughing, she is an aspect of Ebisu, one of the “Seven Lucky Gods.” This is the story of Wakahirume.


Tukuba yama, Mount Tsukuba, photo by N. Hiraoka

Wakahirume was the first child born to Isanagi and Isanami. It was in Tukuba (Tsukuba) that she was born in mid-day, hiru, so that she was named Hiruko, Hirukohime. Her parents were the seventh Amakami, leaders of Yamato, the land where Wosite prevailed. Her younger brother Amateru became the eighth Amakami. Hiruko was a happy, healthy baby. But she was born when Isanagi was 40 and Isanami was 31, extremely unfortunate years for a baby. Out of concern for her well-being, her parents found foster parents in Kanasaki and his wife Yesinasu. They had lost their own baby and were overjoyed to have Hiruko to raise. They immediately built a beautiful home for her called Nishinomiya. Nishinomiya is far west (nishi) of Tukuba. It lay in the region called Hirota that includes the Rokkō Mountains (Mukoyama). Hiruko grew up in a loving environment in which she learned the art of waka poetry. Waka contains Kototama sound energy of Universe. She became so skilled that she was called Wakahirume, or simply Wakahime. Nishinomiya is a town near present-day port-city of Kobe. Today, Nishinomiya Jinja is a magnificent shrine with huge grounds. Hiruko must have enjoyed growing up there.

Nishinomiya Jinja. This is where Hiruko spent her childhood. In the main hall is enshrined Hiruko Ebisu Okami, and this is the central jinja of all Ebisu jinja.

Kishiyi (Kii)

Hiruko Wakahime was joyfully reunited with her parents when she reached adulthood. At that time, they lived at Wakauta-yama, in Kishiyi (now Wakayama in the Kii Peninsula). By this time, her brothers Amateru and Tsukiyomi had been born. A bit later, youngest brother Sosanowo was born in the southern part of Kishiyi known as Sosa. Later there was a disastrous fire in which Isanami died. The name Sosa changed to Kumano which refers to this sadness and the place where Isanami had built her miya. Sosanowo was still a young child, and Wakahime and her husband raised him.


Around the time when Amateru became Amakami, Wakahime learned the true story of the Wakauta (also known as Awauta and Awanouta) which her parents had composed and taught. She went around the land teaching the song so that the people could speak a common language and communicate better, thus aiding in the kuni-umi nation-building effort of her parents. Wakahime understood the deep meaning of Wakauta which can be summarized as  Hi-tsuki, the cycles of Sun and Moon. Moon (tsuki) in its monthly cycle grows full and then diminishes. Sun (hi) in its daily cycle waxes at sunrise and wanes at sunset. Sun represents male and Moon, female. Throughout the cycle of life, we must accept this waxing and waning, and keep smiling.

Majinai Uta                

Wakahime was staying with Amateru and Mukatsuhime at Isawa no Miya in Mie-ken. One day, people of Kishiyi put out a call to Amateru’s government for help with eradication of homushi insects that were infesting the rice paddies of Kunikakasu. In response, Wakahime, Mukatsuhime, and other women of waka went to Kishiyi and used their Kototama powers of uta (song) to repel the pests. They sang the Majinai-uta with total success. They taught the Majinai-uta to the people so that they could repel insects themselves and save their crops. The people were so grateful that they presented miya to Mukatsuhime and to Wakahime. The miya Himae was given to Mukatsuhime. Wakahime received Tamatsushima at seaside of Wakayama city. Jinja shrines stand in those locations even today, more than two thousand years later. As Toshinori-Kami, Wakahime is kami of harvest and the calendar (toshi, year).

 Tamatsushima Jinja, where Wakahime lived, perhaps on this yama. Enshrined here as Wakahirume no Mikoto, her alternate name is Niutsuhime Okami. Tamatsushima Jinja is connected by tradition and ritual to Niutsuhime Jinja.
Hiruko Ebisu at Himae Jinja, Mukatsuhime’s miya.

Koto and waka 

Wakahime was very good at playing the ancient koto. The 3-stringed koto was called kadakaki. The koto with 5 strings was the isuki koto, and the 6-stringed koto was called the yakumo koto. Because of her skills, Wakahime was called both Shitateruhime (shita, lower), and Takateruhime (taka, higher). Ōnamuchi’s daughter Takako became a student of Wakahime as well as her assistant, and Takako received the name Takateru from Wakahime. Another student was Okurahime, grand-daughter of the metalsmith Kanayamahiko.

Mawariuta and Marriage       

One day, a messenger from Amateru came to Tamatsushima. He was Achihiko, great-grandson of Toyoke-Kami. Wakahime immediately fell in love with him. She wrote him a love song in the form of a mawariuta. A mawariuta is a palindrome, which reads the same backward and forward. Poor Achihiko was befuddled, not knowing how to compose mawariuta. He asked Kanasaki for advice, and he was told to resign himself to marrying the determined Wakahime. And so they were married. His new name, Omoikane, refers to his wondering what to do. Their miya was the Yasu no Miya on the eastern shore of southern Lake Biwa in the land of Ōmi near the Yasukawa river. It may now be the jinja called Gosha Jinja in Ōmi Hachiman. Shitateruhime (another name for Wakahime) and her husband Omoikane are gosaishin. After Isanami died in the fire, Wakahime and Omoikane took in Sosanowo, her young brother. They also fostered Oshihomimi, the son of Amateru, while raising four children of their own including their sons, Takano and Tajikarawo.

Nihu no Kami, Niutsuhime

Wakahime is known as Nihu no Kami (or Niu no Kami) and has been enshrined as Niutsuhime no Mikoto. Niu is red earth containing cinnabar crystals. Cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) melts to yield mercury, an important material for practical uses. Painting buildings, torii, and ships with niu protected the wood, as seen in vermillion torii of jinja. Wakahime sang the Awauta for successful metal casting, as told in the Aya of Awauta no Kana (metals). She may have learned metallurgy from her grandfather Toyoke who was very knowledgeable in this subject, as in many others. For this, she is known as Niutsuhime. Her main shrine is the splendid vermillion Niutsuhime Jinja in the foothills of Koyasan.                 

Niutsuhime Jinja, Ichinomiya of Ki no Kuni. When Kobo Daishi was seeking a place for his Shingon temple, Niutsuhime’s son Takano no Kami (or his reincarnation) led Daishi to the site. Daishi called it Koyasan (an alternate reading of 高野 Takano) in appreciation. Koyasan temple and the Wakahime shrines mutually protect each other. Niutsuhime no Okami (Niu Myojin) is enshrined in the first honden. In the second is her son Takano-mikoto. This is the main shrine of 108 where she is enshrined. In the Niu Daimyoujin Norito of the Tenpo period (729-749), Niutsuhime Okami is named as Wakahirume no Mikoto, sister of Amateru Omikami.
The two honden for Niutsuhime and her son Takano no Mikoto.
Vermillion torii and bridge


Wakahime was also known as Wakahirume, which contains both her birth name Hiruko and her honor name of Wakahime. She was also regarded as Nihu no Kami (Niu no Kami, Niutsuhime), Tosinori Kami, and as Ebisu the laughing god. Wakahime touched the lives of many of the important kami people of Wosite. She is an unsung heroine of Wosite. How ironic, for she promoted the songs of Wosite!

 Wakahirume spent the last part of her life with Mukatsuhime, her sister-in-law, in Nishinomiya near the Rokkō mountains. There is a shrine, the Koshiki-iwa Jinja, for Wakahirume in the Rokkō mountains. Wakahirume enjoyed the overlook of scenic Wakanoura Bay 和歌の浦 in Kii (Wakayama), and she may have passed away there, a lovely place for a lovely lady.

Waka-no-ura Bay
Wakanoura Bay, Kii Province, by Utagawa Hiroshige



Kototama of Wosite & Nihongo

Empress Shoken and Emperor Meiji

Nekoye and Kototama

Wosite is a kototama language. The five vowels are cosmic energies. The nine consonants modify the energies. The syllables are formed by a consonant followed by a vowel. Each syllable has a meaning, an energy. Wosite is written poetically in rhythms of five and seven. They are the rhythms of the earth and the vault of the heavens.

The term nekoye is used in Wosite literature. While the basic aspect of sound is ne, human speech is the koye component of nekoye. Koye is kotoha (language), and it has meaning. Koye differentiates humans from animals. With koye and kotoha, humans can build society by communicating and cooperating with each other.

Wosite, when chanted makes a powerful uta (song poem) because it harnesses sound energy. The uta can dispel harmful insects, it can benefit one’s health and well-being. All these characteristics of Wosite qualify it as kototama.


Awanouta (Awa no Uta, Awauta) is the Wosite song of A the heavens and Wa the earth. Awanouta appears frequently in the Wosite literature, for it was the means to teach a common language to different communities of people. Awanouta reveals the structure of the syllabary, the basis of the language. As well, it describes Wosite cosmology: how the world comes to be. This is profound and vital for a common world view in the building of civilization.

Basics of Kototama

In kototama, the deliberate sounds made by human voices carry power to make things manifest. The term kototama tells us that there is tama (spirit) in koto (voice). Conversely, spirit gives voice to koto (things). And spirit is powerful.

At the root of kototama are the five pure vowels:  a, i, u, e, o. These are energies coming to earth from universe. Vowels are “mother sounds.” Consonants are “father sounds.” Syllables are “children sounds” produced when “father goes before mother.” In other words, consonant before vowel. Linguists call it “open syllables.” Kototama languages such as Wosite all have the above properties.

Practice of Kototama

Kototama is found in many indigenous languages. One of these is the Hawaiian language in which every syllable of every word can have deep meaning. An example is the word, aloha, which has meaning ranging from the everyday hello to a much deeper meaning. There are different levels of meaning depending on one’s ability to understand them.

In the islands of old Japan, kototama has been practiced since prehistoric Jomon times. The Wosite language was fully formed around 6,000 BCE. The kototama of Wosite has survived in Shinto norito (oral and written communiques with kami). Wosite has disappeared from common usage. Fortunately kototama still prevails as the practice of the power of speech.

Study of Kototama

Sages of old certainly studied as well as practiced kototama. As we moved into the modern age, kototama became a mysterious subject known by a select few. Haiku master Matsuo Basho practiced kototama in his art in the 17th century.

Emperor Meiji 明治 (r. 1867-1912) had an active kototama study group with the Empress Shōken. Empress Shōken (1850 – 1914) was born in Kyoto in a prestigious Fujiwara family. Upon marriage to Meiji, she brought a key to decrypt the original meaning of the Kojiki. The old document had been written on hemp cloth, and it taught the knowledge of how to create the 31-syllable waka based on kototama. The names of kami that appear in the Kojiki are related to the 50 sounds of the Japanese syllabary. The Emperor and Empress applied kototama to the creation of profound waka.

Yamakoshi Hiromichi  山腰弘道, calligrapher to the Empress was their study companion. Hiromichi was the eldest son of the feudal retainer Yamakoshi  山腰喜明 of the former Owari clan and researcher of the writing of the Age of Kami (神代文字). At the age of nine, he became lord of the clan. He took martial arts and learned calligraphy from 村井鍬蔵 (Murai Shogo).

Yamakoshi Akimasa  山腰明將 (?-1951) was third son of Yamakoshi Misako and Hiromichi. Akimasa continued the research privately after Emperor Meiji (1912), for it was not transmitted to Emperor Taisho. At the time, while Akimasa was a Major in the Army, he continued his spiritual studies. He researched the Takenouchi literature. Akimasa died in 1951 in a car accident and his records were lost. 

Kototama Hyakushin

Ogasawara Kōji 小笠原孝次 (1903 – 1982) continued the kototama resarch on his own. He published Passage to the Third Civilization in 1964, Kototama Hyakushin in 1969. He composed the One Hundred Deities in Japanese and in English. It is an esoteric teaching on the inner secrets of kototama. Recently, new books on kototama are being published.

Shimada Masamichi 島田正路 in turn continued teaching kototama through his classes, his website, and his books such as his 1993 book, コトタマの話―日本人と日本語の原点 , Kototama no hanashi — Nihonjin to Nihongo no genten.

Ueshiba Morihei 植芝 盛平 (1883-1969), the creator of the peaceful martial art of aikido and his student, Masahilo Nakazono (1918-1994), were advanced practitioners of kototama. Nakazono had studied with Ogasawara. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, and published several books in English, including Inochi and The Source of the Present Civilization. 

Masahilo Nakazono
Morihei Ueshiba

Modern Kototama

There is wide interest in kototama in the West. Students of aikido learn kototama from English language books of Senseis John Stevens and William Gleason. Nakazono’s books are available in English. Energy healers employ kototama in various ways. An important application of kototama is in the healing art of Reiki. Mikao Usui (1865-1926), founder of Reiki, employed kototama.

Masaru Emoto (1943-2014), pioneer in researching the effects of sound on water, has openly linked kototama and sound energy (Messages from Water and the Universe, 2010). Loving sounds and thoughts produce ice crystals that are incredibly gemlike.   

Kototama and Nihongo

Kototama is the foundation of the Wosite language and its expression. Wosite, in turn is proto-Nihongo. Therefore, kototama is the foundation of Nihongo.


Hotsuma Kototama

Our sister site, has a number of posts on the kototama (kotodama) of Wosite (Woshite). Here are some slightly edited excerpts. Please click on the heading links to read the full articles. They were written before this WoshiteWorld blogsite opened, and the terms used may vary from our current usage.

Omiya Shirou on Hotsuma Kototama

Omiya Shirou Sensei, Hachiman author, is discussing aspects of Hotsuma kototama.This is a dialogue between Omiya Shirou Sensei and the interviewer Takeda, reported on the website

Omiya:  The most important point of Hotsuma is the poetry written in the 5-7 rhythm of the chyouka waka. The Hotsuma kototama is reported in『完訳秀真伝』Kanyaku Shuushin-den  completed by Torii, and is equivalent to Omiya’s  『言霊玄修秘伝』 Kototama Genshu Hiden. There are lots of secret messages in the waka. This kototama comes down from Awamiya Shrine which is now the Taga Taisha in Shiga Prefecture. 

Takeda’s closing remarks:  The form of waka is kototama.  Hotsuma covers a huge area and the meaning is deep. Omiya’s book in modern Japanese gives a nice explanation of Hotsuma.

Rei Torii on How Kototama Makes the World

According to Rei Torii in Kamigami no Nazo (Mystery of the Kami):

Kototama refers to the rhythms that bring forth the manifested world.

Mother rhythms are the five vowels  あ   い  う   え   お  which span the dimensions of infinite space. They are the processes of movement of: space, wind, fire, water, and earth. Moving space gives rise to moving wind, which gives rise to moving fire, and which in turn gives rise to the flowing down of moving water/liquid and earth/solid.

Father rhythms are the consonants which develop time. These are the processes of creating life and building the world.

Koji Ogasawara:  “The world is perpetually beginning right here, right now!”

Okunomichi on Kototama of Takenouchi and Hotsuma Civilizations

According to the ancient Takenouchi collection of documents, the Path of the ancient ones of the Japanese Islands is called Kototama. This term refers to the spiritual (tama) power of sound (koto). Its formal name is Kototama Futomani, Kototama Great (futo) Mana (energy). Kototama Futomani is a cosmology and a practice. It is based on the fundamental property of Universe to create, to manifest, by vibrations. Vibrations produced by the human voice form the sounds of speech. These vibrations of speech carry great spiritual energy. Kototama is based on the principle that the way sound patterns are organized determines the development of individual human consciousness and of human society. Civilizations evolve and fall on the basis of these sound systems.

Hotsuma Tsutae is one of the koshi-koden ancient literature (which includes Takenouchi and other documents). It is a legacy written in a beautiful script called Wosite. It was recorded two to three thousand years ago. It relates history and teachings of advanced humans thousands of years prior. We can well wonder how to fit the Hotsuma Tsutae and the Wosite documents into the overall scheme of the Takenouchi.

The main characters of the Hotsuma legends are known to readers of the conventionally accepted books: Kojiki (711 CE) and Nihon Shoki (720 CE). By the eighth century when these two documents were produced by royal order, there was already a formal ruling system and a stratified society. Elements considered not suitable for the court’s political purposes were eliminated or modified. It is very illuminating to compare the contents of the two mentioned koshi-koden documents with the eighth century versions.

Today’s scholars recognize a long period of peace and culture called the Jōmon period. The name Jōmon was given to describe the cord-marked earthenware said to be the oldest in the world. The Jōmon period lasted from about 14,000 BCE to 300 BCE, a remarkably long period of peace. It was followed by the Yayoi (300 BCE to 300 CE) with significant immigration from the Asian continent which greatly impacted society in the islands. Then came the Kofun period of burial mounds, and so on into historical times.

The sound order of the of human civilization has changed over time. The period of peace is the Sugaso, the material civilization is Kanagi, and the future is the Futonorito. In terms of Kototama sound order, the Jōmon would be Sugaso and the following periods beginning with the Yayoi the  Kanagi.

Where does the Hotsuma /Wosite culture belong in this timeline? There are two seeming inconsistencies when dating it. From the spiritually guided nature of Hotsuma society, it would appear to belong to the Sugaso order, at least in the beginning. The early tales are full of compassion and resolution of conflicts by nonviolent means such as negotiation and Kototama. Society was guided to embody Heaven on Earth which means to live in harmony with nature and universe. In the teaching sections of the Hotsuma Tsutae, the lessons emphasized living the Way of Hotsuma which is the Amenaru Miti Way of Heaven.

… we may view the Hotsuma/Wosite culture as the last gasp of the Sugaso.

The Wosite literature is written in verse of 5 and 7 syllables. When a master poet is asked why, she replies because 7 and 5 are the rhythms of Heaven and Earth. Deep study of the Woshite syllabary has led to some understanding of the cosmology of the Hotsuma people.

As later tales unfold, especially the last 12 chapters which were added generations later, we view society moving more and more to materialistic worldviews and behavior, thus fully entering the Kanagi civilization. The sacred is declining and materiality is growing. There are battles of nation-building. While the building of a nation may seem grand and glorious, it comes at the cost of human blood and suffering. These stories mark the beginning of our Second Civilization. Hotsuma tales record the transition from the First to the Second Civilization.

Since Wosite times, we have continued down this path of separation and conflict, loss of connection with other people and our environment. We can go no further. We must stop and build the Third Civilization.

The documents mentioned here all include the common story of Ama no Iwato no Hiraki, the opening of the heavenly cave door. This is the prophecy that the door of darkness will be opened and light of truth will pour forth once more.

The door is opening.

And light is spreading all over the world.