japanese kanjai for god

What Is The Japanese Kanji For God? | How To Say God In Japanese?

05 June 2024Shopify API

The Japanese kanji for God is 神. We learn the components, writing, and pronunciation of 神. Read on to find out more!

The Japanese writing system is rich and intricate, boasting three scripts: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. 

In this article, we delve into the roots of this Kanji, its evolution, and its symbolic representation in Japanese culture.

Japanese Kanji For God

Japanese Kanji For God Is 神

The Japanese Kanji for "God" is 神, pronounced as "kami." This character represents the divine and spiritual essence in Japanese mythology and Shintoism, which is the indigenous religion of Japan.

The Kanji is visually striking, with its elegant strokes and compact form, reflecting the profound nature of its meaning.

How To Say God In Japanese?

The most common way to say "God" in Japanese is 神様 (かみさま), which literally translates to "spirit lord." It is a general term used to refer to any deity or divine being.

Here are some other words you can use, depending on the context:

  • 上帝 (じょうてい) - This is a more formal term for "God," often used in religious contexts.
  • 上天 (じょうてん) - This literally means "upper heaven" and can be used to refer to God as the ruler of the heavens.
  • 神明 (しんめい) - This is another general term for "deity" or "god."

Breaking Down The Components Of The Kanji 神

The Kanji 神 is a visually captivating character, consisting of several distinct components that contribute to its overall meaning. 

Let's explore the key components that make up this symbol:

  • 示 (Shimesu, 示す) - Radical "Altar" or "Spirit" 

The radical 示 (Shimesu) serves as the foundation of the Kanji 神. This component represents an altar or a ritual platform and carries the idea of showing, indicating, or manifesting. 

It is often associated with religious ceremonies and the communication between the human and divine realms.

In the Kanji 神, the 示 radical underscores the religious and spiritual significance of the character, suggesting the connection between humanity and the divine.

  • 申 (Mōsu, 申す) - Phonetic Component 

The top part of the Kanji 神 features the character 申, which serves as the phonetic component. Phonetics in Kanji often indicate the character's pronunciation rather than its meaning. 

In the case of 神, 申 provides the "kami" reading, representing the Japanese word for "God." This phonetic component assists readers in pronouncing the Kanji correctly.

  • 厶 (Moto, もと) - Amplifier 

The bottom portion of the Kanji 神 includes the 厶 radical, also known as the "private" or "secret" radical. This component acts as an amplifier, emphasizing the meaning of the character. 

In 神, the 厶 radical complements the 示 radical, reinforcing the notion of a sacred and mysterious presence that exists beyond the ordinary human experience.

Together, these three components - 示, 申, and 厶 - form the Kanji 神, encompassing the concept of "God" or "divine" in Japanese culture and religion. 

The combination of the "altar" radical, the phonetic indicator for "kami," and the amplifier radical results in a powerful character that encapsulates the essence of the divine beings and spirits revered in Japanese mythology and Shintoism.

Understanding the components of the Kanji 神 not only provides insight into its visual construction but also offers a glimpse into the complex nature of Kanji characters and their layered meanings. 

As one of the most culturally significant characters in the Japanese writing system, 神 exemplifies the profound relationship between language, spirituality, and cultural identity in Japan.


The Japanese Kanji for "God," 神, encapsulates the essence of divine beings and spirits in Japanese mythology and Shintoism. 

Its roots in ancient Chinese script and subsequent incorporation into Japanese culture have given it profound religious and cultural significance. 

As a symbol of spirituality and reverence for the divine, the Kanji 神 continues to occupy a central place in Japan's language, traditions, and collective consciousness. 

Understanding its symbolism helps us unravel the deep connections between language, culture, and spirituality in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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