Raijin (god of lightning) (雷神)

Raijin is the god of lightning in Japanese folk beliefs and the Shinto religion. It is also called 'Kaminari-sama' (Mr. Thunder), 'Raiden-sama' (Mr. Thunderbolt), 'Narukami' (The Rolling God) or 'Rai-ko' (Duke Thunder).


It is said that SUGAWARA no Michizane died and became Tenjin (god of lightening). In folk beliefs, Raijin is often called as 'Kaminari-sama' fearfully and endearingly. It has been believed that Kaminari-sama falls from the sky and picks somebody's bellybutton. In Japan, adults scare children by saying, 'Kaminari-sama would come to pick your bellybutton,' when the children's bellies are uncovered in summer.

There are some methodologies to escape from Kaminari-sama; the methods such as escaping into a mosquito net, repeating the word "kuwabara (this comes from a tradition that Kaminari-sama, who was the ghost of SUGAWARA no Michizane, caused serious damage in the capital, but Kuwabara, the territory of Michizane, was never hit by thunder)" have been believed as effective.

Fujin (wind god) is cited as another pair of Raijin.


In Japan, as Sotatsu TAWARAYA's Fujin Raijin zu (The Wind and Thunder Gods: a folding screen), a representative example, shows, Kaminari-sama holding a cow's horn, wearing the tiger leather fundoshi, and beating a drum being possessed by the god of thunder is the Raijin's well-known image. This image derives from being associated with Kimon (the northeast, an unlucky direction, person or thing to be avoided), that is the oriental bearings, Ox and Tiger (northeast in the Western sense). It is also said that a monster called 'Raiju' (Thunder Monster) is falling when lightning hits.

In Otsu-e (Otsu paintings, named after the town of Otsu in Shiga Prefecture), Kaminari-sama is depicted in a humorous way; for example, Kaminari-sama trying to hook the drum that he dropped from the cloud is depicted there.

Kamigamo-jinja Shrine (Kamo-wakeikazuchi-jinja Shrine)

- Kamowakeikazuchi no Kami

Tenman-gu Shrine

- from Tenjin-shinko (a faith in Tenjin) of SUGAWARA no Michizane (Karai Tenjin - the heavenly god of fire-causing thunder)

Shiogama-jinja Shrine

- Takemikazuchi-no-kami

Raiden-jinja Shrine

- Honoikazuchi no Kami (the god of fire-causing thunder)・Oikazuchi no kami・Wakeikazuchi no kami, etc.

Yatsuikatsuchi no kami'

Raijin in history, literature

Kojiki (The Records of Ancient Matters): Takemikazuchi-no-kami, etc.

List of season words: Raijin is a season word of 'the late summer', like 'lightning,' 'violent thunder,' and 'thunderclap.'

In Noh 'Raiden', Nochi-Shite (the leading role in the latter half of a Noh play) is Raijin.

Narukami (The Rolling God)' of Kabuki program is a part of 'Narukamifudo Kitayamazakura.'

Raijin throughout the world

God of lightning' appears in the world's mythologies such as Zeus of Greek mythology, Jupiter of Roman mythology, Thor of Norse mythology.

In China, it is called Rai-ko (enLei Gong), Rai-shi, Rai-so, and so on.
(List of thunder gods)


[Original Japanese]