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, this term can mean completely different things depending on the context and the kanji used. In this article, we will see 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 that of "tree spirit" or "forest spirit", a yokai from Japanese folklore. These creatures are often described as good spirits that bring luck, serenity and wisdom. If you type the word “Kodama” into google images, you will probably see white beings of short stature and big eyes. This is a representation created by Hayao Miyazaki in Princess Mononoke, famous movie from the Studios Ghibli.

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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 in the 18th century. There are endless variations of Kodama and the designs tend to differ greatly.

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 mountains and “echo”.

Kodama – Bullet Train Service

Kodama is known as one of the main Shinkansen (Bullet Train) services running on the Tōkaidō and Sanyō lines. The characteristic of Kodama is that they are trains that stop at all stations, being considerably slower than the others.

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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

The “Kodama Suika” – 小玉スイカ (こだますいか) is a small watermelon with uniform sweetness and that usually measures half the size of a common 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 – Small 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). Literally means “small silver jewel” or “small silver sphere.

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