What does Kodama mean in Japanese?

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"Kodama" is a Japanese word that has multiple meanings. Despite being always pronounced the same way, it can mean totally different things depending on the context and the characters Kanji used. In this Post, we will look at the main meanings of Kodama in Japanese.

What does kodama mean in Japanese?
What does kodama mean?

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Kodama - Spirit of the Forest

One of the most common meanings of "Kodama" is "tree spirit" or "forest spirit", a youkai from Japanese folklore. These creatures are often described as spirits of good, who bring peace, serenity and wisdom. If you type the word "Kodama" into Google images, you'll probably see white beings of short stature and big eyes. This is a representation created by Hayao Miyazaki in "Princess Mononoke", a famous film by the Studios Ghibli.

Read also: Itsuki - The most frightening of all youkai!

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Kodama - Spirit of the Forest

However, one of the most famous Kodama drawings was imagined by the Ukiyo-e artist Toriyama Sekien, still in the 18th century. There are endless variations of Kodama.

In some illustrations, the Kodama are green, humanoid, plant-like creatures. In others they are more like ghosts or luminous entities.

written in kanji:

  • 木霊 or 木魂

These spirits are believed to get angry when they feel the environment being harmed.

For more details about this Youkai I recommend reading the portal article legend hunters. Click here to read.

Kodama - Echo and Reverb

Kodama also means "Echo" or "Reverberation". This phenomenon of a word having the meaning of an entity or creature and, at the same time, meaning "Echo" also occurs with "Yamabiko" (山彦、やまびこ), which simultaneously designates a guardian deity of the mountains and the "echo" we hear .

Kodama - Bullet Train Service

Kodama is known as one of the leading Shinkansen (Bullet Train) services. It runs on the Tōkaidō and Sanyō lines and stops at all stations, being considerably slower than other available options.

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Kodama - Bullet Train Service

It is not usually used for trips between big cities. In these cases, Nozomi or Hikari are used more often. Kodama type trains are generally used to go to and from smaller cities, such as Atami, for example. Values vary depending on the type of transport.

Anyway, it's important to keep in mind the name of the three main ones: Kodama, Nozomi and Hikari.

Usually written in Hiragana.

Written in Kana:

  • こだま

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Kodama - Small Watermelon

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Kodama - Small Watermelon

A "Kodama Suika" - 小玉スイカ (こだますいか) is a small watermelon with uniform sweetness that usually measures half the size of a regular watermelon.

It's not the first time that watermelon-related things have been covered in Suki Desu. We already talked about yellow and square watermelons in two other posts.

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Kodama - Little Sphere

Kodama also reads 小玉 (こだま, kodama) which literally means "small sphere".

小 is the kanji for small.玉 is the kanji for sphere, jewel, etc.

Other possible meanings

  • In some contexts of geology, sound studies and physics, the word Kodama may be referring to sound waves that echo from a certain environment.
  • Kodama may also be the name of a fictional character. Appears in RPG games, board games, manga, anime and light novels.
  • There is a famous anime director named Kenji Kodama. His name is spelled as follows: こだま兼嗣.
  • Kodama-gin (小玉銀) was a silver coin that circulated in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). It means, literally, "small silver jewel" or "small silver sphere".

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