Clarissa Johal: #FolkloreThursday - Kodama (Tree Spirits) #Japanese

Thursday, May 26, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Kodama (Tree Spirits) #Japanese

"Kodama" (木魅) from Gazu Hyakki Yagyō by Toriyama Sekien
Kodoma are spirits in Japanese folklore that inhabit older trees, similar to the dryads of Greek mythology. Some kodama are said to have the ability to move through the forest, while others are rooted and reside in a specific tree. It is thought that when a tree has passed a hundred years of age, a divine spirit would come dwell inside it. Any person attempting to harm this tree would become cursed and suffer misfortune.

In appearance, the kodama was either invisible or looked like an ordinary tree. Forest echoes and the sound of a falling tree were said to be the cries of kodama.

Around the Edo period however, kodama became less of a nature god and more of a yokai (supernatural creature). They were humanized, and stories of kodama falling in love with humans and taking on a human form were common. 

In popular culture, kodama make an appearance in Princess Mononoke, Megami Tensei and The Legend of Zelda.

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