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Incantation, as it appears in Tenrikyo literature, is either an English gloss of:

  1. yose-kaji (寄加持)[1], a ceremony conducted by the ascetic monk Ichibei Nakano that sought to relieve Shuji Nakayama of the mysterious leg pain the began in the tenth lunar month of 1837,
  2. kaji-kito (加持祈祷)[2], or
  3. ogami-kito (拝み祈祷)[3].


According to Yamochi Tatsuzo, a former instructor at Tenri Seminary, a kaji refers to a ritual where incantations are chanted to Buddhist deities to alleviate suffering from disease and misfortune.

He then explains that a yose-kaji refers to a version of this ritual where many people are invited (yoseru) so they can gather and pray together. There is also the explanation that it is called a yose-kaji (literally, a "pulling" or "bringing" incantation) because of the form of the ritual where the prayer specialist "brings" a Buddhist deity to speak through a medium.[4]

It may be possible that "yose-kaji" is a regional variant of the term "yori-gito" (憑り祈祷), which Miyake Hitoshi, a scholar specializing in Shugendo, defines as "a form of obtaining oracles peculiar to Shugendo. In this ritual a shugenja uses a medium as a vehicle of possession by a deity, which is then asked to reply to various queries or requests concerning the next harvest or one's personal fortune."[5]


According to Miyake Hitoshi, the term "kaji-kito" is often used to describe the main activities of Shugendo practitioners. Yet, he maintains that: "[K]aji and kito are not the same. Kito refers to the prayers offered to a deity as a form of request in ceremonies.... Kaji, on the other hand, refers to the identification (ka) of the shugenja with the deity in order to realize (ji) a certain purpose."[6]


The term "ogami" simply means prayer. Religious studies scholar Helen Hardacre has once described kito as“a catchall term for prayers for healing, well-being, prosperity, and other this-worldly benefits."[7] The expresssion "ogami-kito" has been translated as "worshipped and prayed" in the current edition of the English Ofudesaki.[8]


  1. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo — Manuscript Edition, third edition. Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, pp. 2, 3, 4.
  2. Anecdotes of Oyasama 62 (p. 54).
  3. Anecdotes of Oyasama 166 (p. 133).
  4. 矢持辰三 Yamochi Tatsuzo. 『稿本天理教教祖伝入門十講』 Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko, p. 14.
  5. Miyake Hitoshi. 1993. "Religious Rituals in Shugendō: A Summary." In Religion and Society in Modern Japan: Selected Readings. Edited by Mullins, Mark R., Shimazono Susumu, and Swanson, Paul L. Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, Nanzan Studies in Asian Religions, p. 36.
  6. Miyake Hitoshi. Ibid., p. 38.
  7. Hardacre, Helen. Shintō and the State, 1868-1988. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (1989), p. 74.
  8. Ofudesaki 6:26