Ancient Word of the Day: Kodama

Hayao Miyazaki's kodama forest spirits in the forests, from the anime Princess Mononoke.

Many Japanese folk stories are about kodama, a kind of nature deity that lives in a tree, a bit like a Greek Dryad. Some people believed that kodama travel throughout the forest, moving from tree to tree. Others believe that they inhabit a particular tree.

Knowledge of the trees that have kodama living in them have passed down through the generations and those trees are protected. If you cut down a tree that has kodama living in it, you will be cursed. The most famous kodama are the little white creatures with large heads and round black eyes and mouths in the anime film Princess Mononoke, which tells the epic struggle of humankind against nature.

Hayao Miyazaki’s kodama forest spirits from the anime Princess Mononoke.

As the forest is dying the kodama fall from trees and dissolve. And when, in the end the forest is restored, a single kodama floats out of the undergrowth rattling its head.

Extracted from Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li

Book Review: Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li

[Pictured: Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018]

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

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