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Norito (祝詞) are liturgical texts or ritual incantations in Shinto, usually addressed to a given kami.[1][2][3]


There is no single accepted universally accepted theory to explain the meaning of the term.[4] One theory derives norito from noru (宣る, 'to declare'; cf. the verbs inoru 'to pray' and norou 'to curse'[4]) - combined with the suffix -to.[3] A variant term, notto, is derived from a combination of norito with koto, 'word'.[3]

There are various known ways of writing the word in kanji: aside from 祝詞 (currently the standard), 詔戸言, 詔刀言, and 諄辞 are also attested.[3]

One recent writer summed up the original meaning of norito as "a general term meaning magic by means of words."[5]


The first written documentation of norito dates to 712 CE in the Kojiki and 720 CE in the Nihongi.[3]

The Engishiki, a compilation of laws and minute regulation presented by the court compiled in 927 CE, preserves twenty-seven representative forms of norito.[6][7]


Norito were (and still are) traditionally written in a variety of man'yōgana where particles and suffixes are written in a smaller script than the main body of the text;[8] this style of writing, used in imperial edicts (宣命 senmyō) preserved in the Shoku Nihongi and other texts dating from the 8th century (Nara period), is known as senmyōgaki.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Philippi, Donald L. (1990). Norito: A Translation of the Ancient Japanese Ritual Prayers. Princeton University Press. p. vii. ISBN 0691014892.
  2. ^ "Norito". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. ^ a b c d e Motosawa, Masafumi. "Norito". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Kokugakuin University.
  4. ^ a b Philippi (1990). p. 2.
  5. ^ Shiraishi, Mitsukuni, cited in Philippi (1990). p. 2.
  6. ^ Philippi (1990). p. 1.
  7. ^ Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo (1987). On Understanding Japanese Religion. Princeton University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0691102290.
  8. ^ Sinor, Denis, ed. (1969). American Oriental Society, Middle West Branch, Semi-Centennial Volume: A Collection of Original Essays. Indiana University Press. pp. 242–243.
  9. ^ Seeley, Christopher (1991). A History of Writing in Japan. Brill. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-9004090811.