In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) 


KOTODAMA 言霊 (the spiritual power of words)

As same as the Bible verse, ancient Japanese teaching says the word include spirits, that is 言霊 KOTODAMA (the spiritual power of words).

  • 言 KOTO means Word in Japanese. It is often used 言葉 KOTOBA (word/language). Also, 言う IU is a verb meaning Say or Speak.
  • 霊 TAMA/TAMASHII means Sprits.


  • What you say creates your world.
  • Choose the word you use carefully.
  • Each word has deep meanings or implies spirits.

In Japanese, many phrases have deeper meanings than surface translation.
For example:

有難う ARIGATOU is generally translated as Thank you in English, however, its origins from the deeper meaning of “something or someone rarely exist.”

You can read more about ARIGATOU from here.

Another example is ITADAKIMASU.

いただきます ITADAKIMASU is a greeting before meals.

In a mealtime setting, it is translated as “Let’s eat.”
However, the actual meaning is Receiving in Japanese, so it can be “Thanks for the food.”
It is like a mealtime prayer rather than greeting.

  • いただく ITADAKU means Receiving in a humble language.
  • ます MASU is a word that always comes with polite expressions.

So the phrase いただきます ITADAKIMASU shows gratitude for food, life and all the people who related to grow, transport, sell foods. Also, you can extend the gratitude to the money you can purchase the foods. Further, to the land, nature, the earth, the sun, and water, all the things make you eat the food possible. Moreover, you can also thank your body, organs, cells, and the life itself which make you alive now. You can appreciate everything you have and all the environment. The appreciation can be expanded further and further.

So the Japanese 言霊 KOTODAMA, いただきます ITADAKIMASU implies all the gratefulness you feel, and express it into one word.

That’s the power of KOTODAMA

Sadly even many Japanese people use words unconsciously and do not know the deep meaning of KOTODAMA nowadays.

Here we attempt to explain some KOTODAMA, Japanese ancient spiritually powerful words on this website. We also enjoy learning the original meaning of the language together.

ZEN Teachings

Here are some KOTODAMAs and ZEN Vocabs