God of Origin

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God of Origin is a common gloss of Moto no Kami (kanji: 元の神 hiragana: もとのかみ) that often precedes the phrase "God in Truth" (Jitsu no Kami). "Moto no Kami" also has been glossed as "original God" in other translations.[1]

Cultural context

The meaning of the phrase "Moto no Kami" may only be fully appreciated in the cultural-historical context of pre-modern Japan. Kami was a generic description of supernatural beings, spirits of deceased persons, or any awe-inspiring phenomenon in general.

To elaborate, Japanese thinker and scholar Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801) described the notion of Kami as follows:

"Speaking in general, however, it may be said that kami signifies, in the first place, the deities of heaven and earth that appear in the ancient records and also the spirits of the shrines where they are worshipped. It is hardly necessary to say that it includes human beings. It also includes such objects as birds, beasts, trees, plants, seas, mountains and so forth. In ancient usage, anything whatsoever which was outside the ordinary, which possessed superior power or which was awe-inspiring was called kami."[2]

It is presumed that with the phrase "Moto no Kami," Oyasama was making a distinction between the object of the faith she expounded—Tenri-O-no-Mikoto—with the manifold deities that were worshiped in local temples and other sacred places. It must be noted that it was not common practice in the late 19th century among the populace in Japan to worship deities associated with the creation of the world and/or human beings.[citation needed]

The expression is said to be a description of God's attribute of "Creator" (sozosha 創造者) who created human beings and the world from "where there was no form" as described in the Tenrikyo creation narrative.[3]

Appearances of "Moto no Kami/God of Origin" in Scripture

External links


  1. The most prominent translation of with this gloss of "original God" appears in Song Three, verse 9.
  2. Quoted in H. Byron Earhart's Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, p. 10. Dickenson Publishing Company: Encino, CA (1974).
  3. 「親神・天理王命」 "Oyagami/Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto," 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 141–142. For English equivalent, see A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, pp. 109–111.