Kunitama (The Spirit of the Land) (国魂)

Kunitama is a concept of Shintoism, referring to the sanctification or spiritualization of a province (an administrative division in feudal Japan) or the land itself. In kanji, 'kunitama' can be written as 国魂 or 国霊.

Norinaga MOTOORI wrote, 'Those virtuous kami (deities, spirits) who care for (literally, "complete") the land are called kunitama or kunimitama.'
In ancient times it was considered that the rule of each province was not the task of statesmen alone; it could only be accomplished through the power of the unseen kami enshrined in each area or district.

The kami Okuninushi is also known as Okunitama no kami or Utsushi kunitama no kami, though it is believed this is because the kunitama no kami from each province were combined into Okuninushi. Okuninushi, worshiped as the kami of land reclamation in each provincial shrine, is considered to have originally been the kunitama no kami of the province. In Izumo no kuni fudoki (Records of the Culture and Geography of Izumo Province), however, there is a story that okunitama no kami and not kunitama no kami descended to Iinashi-go, Ou-no-kori (present Yasugi City, Shimane Prefecture). In the records, Okunitama no mikoto, Amenoshitatukurashi okami (okuninushi), and Onamochi (another name of okuninushi) are described as separate kami.

Shrines that have 'Kunitama' in their name or enshrine kami who have 'kunitama' in their names are as follows:

In many shrines on reclaimed land, such as Hokkaido Jingu, Okunitama no kami is enshrined as one of the three kami of land reclamation, along with Onamuji no kami (Okuninushi no kami) and Sukunabikona no kami.

Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America in Washington State enshrines 'AMERICA-KOKUDOKUNIMITAMA-NO-O-KAMI' (Protector of North America).

[Original Japanese]