Raijin/Kaminari

Raijin the Thunder god

Raijin the Thunder god

It has been raining all week with more on the way. With the gods at play, what can you expect? The term for this “character” is 雷神・らいじん・ Raijin or thunder god(s). In childhood I knew the term kaminari sama (also thunder gods), and visualized them wreaking havoc in the clouds, beating their drums to stir up the heavens.  I’ve always preferred this imagery to the other more reasonable explanations.  雷・かみなり・Kaminari is thunder and lightening.

The kanji, 雷 (kaminari)、is a combination of 雨 /ame/ rain (above) and 田/ta/field(sits beneath). According to Kenneth Henshall’s Remembering Japanese Characters, the character for field was once repeated 3 times beneath the character rain to convey the idea of reverberation (in the atmosphere), implying thunder. Today the character is written only once.   Henshall’s mnemonic is:  Rain falls on field amid thunder and lightening.

There’s also this myth about protecting one’s oheso.  Now, I wonder what that’s all about?

A thunderstorm is raiu/らいう・雷雨.
落雷・らくらい/rakurai is a thunderbolt.

轟々・ごうごう; とどろとどろ/gougou;todoro todoro are the sounds for rumbling.

A proverb:
地震雷火事親父 ・じしん  かみなり  かじ おやじ
Jishin kaminari kaji oyaji
earthquakes, thunder, fires, fathers

A haiku:
青天の霹靂。Seiten no heki-reki
“Thunderclap from a clear sky.” A complete surprise.

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2 Responses to “Raijin/Kaminari”

  1. jude Says:

    such an appropriate post as i sit here listening to yet another storm.

    • Susan Says:

      Thank you! Surprisingly, the topic was water levels in our newspaper today, though they say we haven’t been getting enough rain and lakes around here are low. So, as far as I’m concerned it can keep it up, although now it looks like it’s clearing.

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