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 http://www.futomani.jp/, 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.