Amatsu Norito—Shinto Incantations

Part of the Matheson Trust Sacred Audio Collection

Norito are ancient Shinto ritual incantations (at least ca. 10th century CE) through which the faithful address the kami of heaven and earth. They are recited both in temple and household devotion using the indigenous yamato kotoba (classical Japanese terms, predating Chinese influence). Amatsu Norito has to do with Taka ama hara, the “Plain of High Heaven” associated with Amaterasu.

According to a later commentary:

The great norito, the heavenly norito is beyond comprehension, no matter how deeply we may think. The human mind should be understood as that which can commune with Heaven and Earth, with great nature, with the cosmos. Therefore, we can be aware that the kami of the cosmos may be found within the individual mind. In turn, this leads to the purity of no-mind (mu-shin). When the kami encounters this no-mind state, man and kami become united and all of my thoughts and aspirations become one with the kami… This means that through the union of myself and the kami, I return to my true and original self.

• Recording from Suwa Grand Shrine (Suwa taisha).

Right-click here to download – 0:39 (0.6MB)

Taka ama hara-ni kamu zumarimasu
Kamurogi kamuromi-no mikoto mochite
Sumemioya kamu izanagi-no oo kami
Tsukushi-no himuka-no tachibana-no odo-no awagigahara-ni
Misogi harai tamahishi toki-ni aremaseru
haraido-no oo kami-tachi
Moromoro-no magagoto tsumi kegare-o
Hara-e tama-e kiyome tama-e tomo maossu koto-no yoshi-o
Amatsu kami kunitsu kami yaoyorozu-no kami-tachi tomo-ni kikoshi mese to
Kashikomi kashikomi mo maosu.

Click here to view the Japanese text.

• Recording from Iwama Aiki Jinja (shrine built by Morihei Ueshiba in honor of the deities of aikido).

Right-click here to download – 1:59 (1.9MB)

Excerpts gratefully reproduced from Sourcebook in Shinto: Selected Documents, by Stuart D. B. Picken, 2004.