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Hitokotonushi 一言主
Local people also call this deity in the temple: Ichigonji san
いちごんじさん, 一言寺.

The Shrine for Hitokotonushi 一言主神社
Katsuraki, Katsuragi, Kazuraki, Kazuragi, Hitokotonoshi
Dedicated to Hitokotonushi no kami, or literally the God of One Word, who is referred to in the Nihon Shoki Chronicles. The god only grants requests made in one word or one request for each person praying to him. Others say in his oracles he only utters only one word of good or bad.

In fall, the sight of the tall ginkgo tree leaves turning yellow is breathtaking. In the precinct are Kumozuka, or spider mound, whose origin is in the Nihon Shoki, and a monument inscribed with a haiku poem by the travelling poet Basho Matsuo.

© Text and Photo: Katsuragi Kodoo 葛城古道

Hitokotonushi is most probably identical with

Kotoshironushi 事代主(ことしろぬし、言代主神)
Yae Kotoshironushi 八重言代主神、八重事代主神(ヤエコトシロヌシ)
a deity known for its oracle powers, spreading the word of the gods among the people.

Hitokotonushi was the "God of the Rice Paddies" from Katsuragi area.
In olden times, there were five famous shrines in the Katsuragi area.

The word "KOTO 言" in the name of this deity means "Oracle".

Ta no Kami, God of the Rice Fields and Haiku 田の神さま


source : facebook


Katsuragi no hitokotonushi no ōkami (Kojiki)

A god (kami) appearing on Mount Katsuragi, near the border of Yamato and Kawachi Provinces, and who could utter oracles of good or evil with the decisive speaking of a "single word" (hito-koto). The central deity (saijin) of the Hitokotonushi Shrine in Katsuragi, Katsurakami District, Yamato Province (present-day Nara Prefecture).

According to Kojiki, when Emperor Yuryaku climbed Mount Katsuragi with his many courtiers, they encountered another troupe having identical appearance. Enraged, the emperor readied his arrow and asked for the names of those in the opposing group. The leader of the group responded,

"I am Hitokotonushi no kami of Katsuragi, who proclaims evil in a single word, good in a single word."

Upon hearing this, the emperor and his courtiers removed their garments and offered them to the kami. Similar stories are found in Nihongi and Shoku Nihongi; the version in Nihongi reflects ancient beliefs in hermetic mountain wizards.

© Matsunaga Naomichi, Kokugakuin University.


(かつらぎひとことぬしじんじゃ)Shrine Hitokotonushi
The great Gingko Tree

© PHOTO Teranishi 寺西


En no Gyooja (E no ubasoku) , the famous mountain ascetic around 700.
He is famous for roaming the area of Mt. Katsuragi.

Here is one old legend:
E no ubasoku was of the Kamo-no-enokimi family, presently the Takakamo-no-asomi family. He came from the village of Chihara, Upper Kazuraki district, Yamato province. By nature he was endowed with wisdom; he excelled in learning and attained ultimate knowledge. He lived with reverence and faith in the Three Treasures. His greatest desire was to fly on a five-colored cloud beyond the sky and play in the garden of eternity with the guests of the heavely palace, lying in the flowering garden and sucking the vital force out of the haze to nourish his nature.

Accordingly, in his late forties he went to live in a cave, wore clothing made of vines, drank the dewdrops on pine needles, bathed in pure spring water to rinse away the filth of the world of desire, and learned the formula of the Peacock to attain extraordinary power. Thus he could employ spirits and gods at his command at his command.

Once he summoned them all and ordered them, "Make a bridge between Kane-no-take and Kazuraki-no-take." Hitokotonushi no Okami, who was very ugly, only ventured out at night to help. But the gods were not happy about the bridge building, and in the reign of the emporer residing at Fujiwara Palace, Hitokotonushi no Okami of Kazuraki-no-take was possessed and slandered him, saying, "E no ubasoku plans to usurp the throne." The emporer dispatched messengers to capture him, but they found it hard to take him due to his mysterious power, so they captured his mother instead. In order that his mother might be freed, he gave himself up.

He was exiled to the island of Izu. One time his body went floating on the sea as if he were walking on land. Again, his body perched on a mountain ten thousand feet high and looked like a huge phoenix in flight. In the daytime he stayed on the island in accord with the emporer's command, but at night he went to Fuji-no-take [Mt. Fuji] in Suruga to practice austerities.

As he prayed for pardon from his severe punishment and for permission to return to the capital, he lay down on the blade of an assassin's sword and ascended Mt. Fuji. Three years passed in ascetic practice after he was exiled to the island. At the turn of the eighth year of the ox, the first year of the Taiho era, he was pardoned and approached the capital, finally becoming a saint and flying to heaven.

Dharma Master Dosho of our country received an imperial order to go to Great T'ang China in order to search out Buddhist teachings. On the request of five hundred tigers he went to Silla to lecture in the mountains on the Hoke-kyo. At that time there was a man among the tiger who raised a question in Japanese. The monk asked, "Who are you?" and the man answered, "E no ubasoku." The monk thought that the man was a Japanese sage and came down from his high seat to inquire about him, but he was gone.

Hitokotonushi no Okami was bound with a spell by E no gyoja, and he has not escaped even to this day. E no ubasoku did so many miraculous deeds that we cannot enumerate them all. Indeed we learn that Buddhist miraculous arts are comprehensive. Those who have faith will attain them without fail.
© nichirens coffeehouse.net

Click HERE to see more photos !


.......... H A I K U

猶みたし 花に明行 神の顔
nao mitashi hana ni ake yuku kami no kao

all the more i wish to see
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of the god

Matsuo Basho Tr. Makoto Ueda

... ... ...

Memorial Stone of this Haiku by Basho

© PHOTO 牛久市森田武さん撮影

The above haiku by Basho could be rephrased like this:

"Do not be so shy, show me your face, dear God of One Word! All the cherry trees are in full bloom and everything is so beautiful here! I am sure you too will look beautiful today!"

... ... ...

Basho was quite fascinated with the atmosphere of the place and found it hard to leave without seeing the "face of this deity".

............ Other translators' versions:

Still, I woud fain see
The god's face
In the dawning cherry blossoms.


God of this mountain,
May you be kind enough
To show me your face
Among the dawning blossoms?


More than ever I want to see
in these blossoms at dawn
the god's face


all the more I'd like to see it
with dawn coming to the blossoms:
the face of the god


How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.

Lucien Stryk

Read more translations here.

Written in "Oi no kobumi" 「笈(おい)の小文(こぶみ)」, at age 45.

"The face of God", for a good Christian, might evoke the image of the old man with a white beard.
Translating this "kami no kao" is really difficult.
Translating Haiku Forum


hitokoto mo iwanu warera ya tera no aki

not even one word
can we utter here -
autumn in the temple

Gabi Greve, at Hitokotonushi Jinja, 1994


katsuragi no yamafutokoro ni neshaka kana

deep in the mountains
of Mount Katsuragi -
a statue of Buddha lying down

高濱年尾Takahama Toshio
Tr. Gabi Greve

Buddha lying down to await his end - neshaka, nehanzoo


綿弓や琵琶になぐさむ竹のおく」とは芭蕉が貞享元年(1684)に読んだ句で、葛城市には 「綿弓塚」として門人千里の屋敷跡の近くの興善庵の境内に文化六年(1809)10月、句碑が建て られている。この句も「野ざらし紀行」で見ることができる。


Hitokoto Jizo, Hitogoto Jizo 一言地蔵

One request Jizo (hitogoto Jizo)
A noticeboard next to this Jizo at Rokkakudo in Kyoto says that he's inclining his neck because he's carefully considering the request made to him. However, to avoid egotism, he'll only consider one request from a petitioner so it should be a meaningful one!

- shared by John on facebook -

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !

. Jizō - Jizo Bosatsu 地蔵菩薩 - Introduction .


- quote -
Hitokoto Kannon 一言観音
One-Prayer Kannon, or Kannon of a Single Utterance, or One-Word Kannon. This deity is worshipped at various locations throughout Japan, most notably at Kōfukuji Temple 興福寺 in Nara. The temple’s web site says this: “The Hitokoto Kannon Hall was relocated to its current location in the Meiji period. It houses a hidden image of Hitokoto Kannon, or ’Avalokitesvara of a Single Utterance.’ This name for Kannon is derived from the belief that if one sincerely recites Kannon's name, Kannon is sure to respond to the devotee’s prayer.”

Says Matsunaga Naomichi at Kokugakuin University:
“A god (kami) appearing on Mount Katsuragi, near the border of Yamato and Kawachi Provinces, and who could utter oracles of good or evil with the decisive speaking of a ’single word’ (hito-koto). The central deity (saijin) of the Hitokotonushi Shrine in Katsuragi, Katsurakami District, Yamato Province (present-day Nara Prefecture). According to the Kojiki, when Emperor Yūryaku Tennō 雄略天皇 (5th century AD) climbed Mount Katsuragi with his many courtiers, they encountered another troupe having identical appearance. Enraged, the emperor readied his arrow and asked for the names of those in the opposing group. The leader of the group responded, ‘I am Hitokotonushi no Kami of Katsuragi, who proclaims evil in a single word, good in a single word.’ Upon hearing this, the emperor and his courtiers removed their garments and offered them to the kami. Similar stories are found in the Nihongi and Shoku Nihongi; the version in the the Nihongi reflects ancient beliefs in hermetic mountain wizards.”
- source : Mark Schumacher -

. Kannon Bosatsu 観音菩薩 - Introduction .

. Yuuryaku, Yūryaku 雄略天皇 Emperor Yuryaku .





Anonymous said...

Thank you Gabi sensei for your referring to [One Word God] that lead me to Teacher Mansonge, who is famous on religious folklore.

It was very interest site,

I was educated at Pre-war primary school, so my history is fully occupied with Present Emperor's system.

So I am very pleased to have opened my eyes by Hitokoto God of Katsuragi .

Referring to One Word God, I found good English site of Mansonge's 'Japanese


Anonymous said...

you truly re a treasure, gabi san.

Anonymous said...

ec' unu vorton
ni ne parolu tie ―
au'tuna templo

in Esperanto !


Anonymous said...

Gabi san
Your haiku is very impressive that is as follows,
hitokoto mo iwanu warera ya tera no aki

Anonymous said...

> so what exactly does that mean in English?
> what god is being referred to if it is not G-D

"The face of god" . . . "The face of the god."

Which one is it? Well, cultural upbringing can determine your
response. But maybe it can be either one. This reminds me of a
saying by the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan: "God alone exists, as
one god or many gods, for two means only twice one."

And maybe if we would more often look for the Divine as manifested in Nature, we would treat the environment with more respect. But that's a whole other matter.

Wild Rose

Anonymous said...

When one reads English poetry, it helps to have some knowledge of
Judeo-Christian culture.

I am reminded of an incident from a high school English Literature
class, when we were reading Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale," in which Keats writes about the nightingale's song he has heard:

"Perhaps [it is] the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn..."

Our teacher asked if anyone knew who Ruth was. No one knew, and for
the rest of the year we were his class of "heathens." LOL

Basho's religious cultural milieu was Shinto-Buddhist. As regards
Shinto, "it involves the worship of kami (神), gods. Some kami are
local and can be regarded as the spiritual being/spirit or genius of
a particular place, but other ones represent major natural objects
and processes: for example, Amaterasu, the Sun goddess, or Mount Fuji. Shinto is an animistic belief system."


If one becomes conversant with the religious cultural milieu of
Japan, then the mention in Japanese haiku of god(s) with a lower-case 'g' should not be too confusing.

However, Japanese use the same word, 'kami', for the Christian God.
So if one comes across a haiku about the Christian God written in
Japanese, I guess the only way one would know whether it refers to a
god, or God, is from whatever context may be provided.

Just my opinion, Larry

. Gabi Greve said...


Read in the archives, about Hitokotonushi

Shugendo: "The Way of the Yamabushi"

by Erik Krautbauer


Anonymous said...

From Isa Isa Kocher:

The question for me as a writer who writes in English is not an academic one. The Japanese of Basho as Japanese is one question.

However writing in English is a completely different question, and the crucial thing for me as a reader is the art not the academics. I don't want to have to spend a year trying to find something somewhere which answers my questions as a reader in all the arguments among academics.

For more than 50 years I have been hoping for a few simple answers about Basho's frog, because I have yet to see a satisfying ENGLISH version which says anything like the extensive analytical criticisms explain about the poem.

Had i never bothered to read the analytical discussions I would simply have ignored it as incomprehensible and precious. But it is not precious. Basho's poetry is not percious. I don't read Japanese and I am not a scholar of anything in Asian literature, just another reader...But it is clear that Basho is not precious. he is as down to earth as they come...

"the god" however withot anything else is precious, in this poem under discussion. Translating "the god" makes me just wonder what it is I don't understand, and that is the essence of presciousness.

It only leaves me realizing I am not in on the joke... an outsider looking in at a foreign special and precious inner circle of knowers I am not part of. That is what the "the" does.

Standing alone without context you can not make sense of "the god" in English.

in English "the god" has to have an antecedent

However "god", small g god, in English, is a generalized presence of a divine without theological implication...

If you insist that only "the god" is a "correct" translation, then to the reader, namely ME, you have to footnote it, because it leaves the whole meaning of the whole poem UP IN THE AIR!.

When I translate Yunus Emre's poetry into English, I am faced with the problem that sometimes he signs his name as Yunus, and sometimes as "ashik yunus" and sometimes as "dervish yunus".

An "ashik" is literally "lover" and ashiks are a specific kind of poet who sings "illahis" namely songs about the sufi way sung in "colloquial" language (actually colloquial is a genre convention but I doubt many street kids of the time would have had a clue either) and ashik poetry is always signed with the poet's name as one ultimate or penultimate verse of the poem.

Ashik poems are love poems, but the subject is about tasawwuf, sufism, and it is ashik poetry which gave rise to troubadour poetry in France and meistersinger music in Germany.

Now I can translate "ashik yunus" as poet yunus, lover yunus, as mystic yunus, as troubadour yunus, as sufi yunus, and as dervish yunus, and each is academically sound, but in English without a course in Sufism or in Turkish music history, just about meaningless...

If you follow the academic "correct" path, believe me, you will leave me just wondering what the original REALLY says because the correct translation makes no sense.

No sense in ENGLISH, no matter how correct it is. Sometimes art is more important than correctness and I have no doubt that Yunus Emre would cringe at correct translations of his poems.

It is simply not fair to Yunus Emre to keep the reader up in the air. His poetry is so concrete and down to earth, that preciousness just does violence to the poetry. Preciousness does violence, IMHO, to Basho.

And to haiku. The writer of haiku in English has to respect English as a language, and its literary traditions, and its literary conventions, or it becomes an exercise in preciousness.


. Gabi Greve said...

Read more here:
The Gods of Japan, Kami to Hotoke ... and Haiku


Gabi Greve said...


Tenporin-Ji and Demukae Fudo
Entrance to Katsuragi Jinja

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

mijikayo ya Katsuragisan no asagumori

Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

Katsuraki no kamiko nugabaya ake no haru

the Katsuragi god's paper robe

Gabi Greve said...