Understanding Kotodama (The Spirit of Language)

What is kotodama? Kotodama is a popular myth of the spirit of language; with words they use, one can attract the goals he/she wants to achieve. Naoko Hosokawa explains how the idea of kotodama is often associated with the linguistic identity of Japan.

Kotodama is often linked with the linguistic identity of Japan.

Nick: So this is probably a good spot for us to start, what is kotodama? How would you describe it?

Naoko: So in general, I think we can say that it is a popular myth of the spirit of language, and people often use the expression such as if you keep saying what you would like to achieve in your life, you'll be able to achieve reality. Thanks to kotodama. So that's a very general idea of kotodama today. 

However, the origin of the term is actually unknown. So, with some earliest record of the term used in history, we can say that kotodama was the link to the idea of Yamato, which is the old name for Japan. 

So the notion of a kotodama is often linked with the linguistic identity of Japan. And what is interesting is that the narrative surrounding kotodama has been reinvented according to non-linguistic factors surrounding Japan, and also the idea of purity of language in general.

Nick: I see here it seems to combine, it's almost like a form of positive self-talk, but there seems to be elements of karma associated with the word

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