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Japan Sightseeing Glossary


Last update June 4, 2011

Japanese Era List
Japanese Emperors
Chinese Dynasties
Sightseeing Glossary
Glossary Detailed Explanation
 A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   Y 

Japanese Kanji English
 A    Page Top
Amazake Î sweet fermented rice drink (produced by fermenting rice porridge mixed with special kind of fungi)
Angū s{ a lodging place on excursion for an emperor; provisional palace
Arakan an Arhat (a Buddhist who has attained enlightenment)
 B    Page Top
Bakufu { a shogunate; government of shogun
Bangasa ԎP an oil paper umbrella
Bansho ԏ a guardhouse; watchhouse in the Edo period
Bettō ʓ a chief administrator; head of temple
Bishamon V Vaishravana (Great Hearer) (Also called Tamon-ten and one of the Four Heavenly Kings; protectors of Buddhism; protects the north)
Bosatsu F a bodhisattva (an enlightened being who postpones to enter the buddha realm and remains in the human realm to save others)
Botan O peony (flower)
Bukkaku t a Buddhist temple
Bukkyō Buddhism
Bushō a warrior commander
Busshari ɗ the Buddha's relics
 C    Page Top
Chigai-dana ႢI (decorative) stair-step shelf (installed at Toko-no-ma; usually two wooden shelf boards are placed at different positions like stair steps)
Chisen-kaiyūshiki-tei-en rV뉀 the Walk-Around-Pond design; a pond-centered garden (a traditional Japanese garden design to represent various sceneries around a large pond using mounds, rocks, trees and bridges)
Chōdai a canopy bed; Japanese four poster bed; noble people's sleeping chamber
Chōdai-gama-e \ a decorative door; bedchamber door -->Chōdai-gama-e
Chokugan a wish of the emperor
Chokurei an order by the emperor
Chōtei the Imperial Court
 D    Page Top
Daigensui-myō-ō Atavaka (One of vidya-raja representations of Buddha)
Daijō-bukkyō Mahayana Buddhism (one of the two major Buddhist traditions transmitted from India to Asian countries including China and Japan)
Daimyō daimyo (feudal lord) (in the Edo period)
 E    Page Top
Engawa a Japanese veranda; a corridor (hallway) facing the garden
En-no-Gyōja s En-no-Gyōja: Japanese ascetic believed to be the founder of Shugendō (Japanese mountain asceticism); also called "En-no-Ozunu" or "Great Bodhisattva Jinben"
 F    Page Top
Fusuma a fusuma door; paper-affixed door
Fudai-daimyō former ally daimyo (feudal lord) (who had made oath of allegiance to the Tokugawa family before the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600)
 G    Page Top
Garan temple precinct(s); temple complex
Gekokujō hierarchical order reverse; the lower defeating the upper; strong upward mobility
Genpei-kōsō R the battle (conflict) between the Genji and Heike clans
Genpuku coming-of-age (ceremony)
Go- ij prefix to add politeness or respect to the word attached: e.g. Gokazoku (a family of someone to be respected); Goten (noble person's palace)
Gojū-no-tō ܏d a five-story (tier) pagoda
Gōzoku a local powerful clan
Gun S a county
Gunyū-kakkyo QY competition or rivalry among warlords fighting over dominance; battles over the reign (dominance); battles among rival warlords
 H    Page Top
Haibutsu-kishaku the Movement to Abandon Buddhism (a movement to destroy Buddhist temples, Buddha images and abolish privileges clergies used to enjoy)
Hakai-sō jm a precept-breaker; a precept-breaking monk
Haken e supremacy; hegemony; dominance
Haniwa sepulchral earthenware; a burial clay figure
Hatto @x a law enacted by shogunate; shogunate law
Hibutsu Buddha statue kept (unseen) within an innermost sanctum; Buddha image kept away from public eyes
Hōjō abbot's living quarters
Hōmyō @ a priestly name; posthumous name
Hondo { the Main Hall
Honmaru { the inner fortress
Hōō @c a ordained emperor; Dharma Emperor
Hōrai H Monte Penglai; the legendary mountain in China in which hermits used to live
Hori x a moat
Hotoke a buddha (awakened one); the Buddha (historical Buddha or Shakamuni/Gautama Buddha)
 I    Page Top
Irori ͘F a fireplace
 J    Page Top
-Ji - temple (used like a suffix); e.g. Kinkakuji = Kinkaku Temple
Note: Often put "Kinkakuji Temple" in English translation, even though the component "ji" is redundant, simply because it may sound more natural.
Jidai era; period
Jikoku-ten V Dhritarashtra (Watcher of Lands) (one of the Four Heavenly Kings; protectors of Buddhism; protects the east)
Jinja _ a Shinto shrine
\ʊϐF Eleven-faced (Bodhisattva) Avalokiteshvara
Jyūni-shinshū \_ the Twelve Heavenly (or Divine) Generals: Kumbhira; Vajra, Mihira, Andira, Anila, Sandila, Indra, Pajra, Mahoraga, Kinnara, Catura and Vikarala
Jyūni-ten \V the Twelve Heavenly Beings (Esoteric Buddhism): Indra, Agni, Yama, Rakshasa, Varuna, Vayu, Vaishravana, Isana, Brahma, Prthivi, Surya and Chandra
Jyūsanjū-no-tō \Od a thirteen-story (tier) pagoda
Jyūshoku ZE a head priest; chief abbot
Jyūyō-bunka-zai dv Important National Cultural Property; an important cultral asset of Japan
 K    Page Top
Kabuto a (war) helmet
Kacchū bh a (war) helmet and armor
Kaigen-kuyō Jዟ{ a Buddha statue eye-opening ceremony (conducted to inspirit a Buddha image)
Kake-jiku | a hanging scroll
Kamado } an old-fashioned Japanese cooking hearth
Kami _ a god; deity
Kamoi a lintel
Kan-non (botatsu) ωF Avalokiteshvara; Guan Yin
Kare-san-sui ͎R literally "Dry Mountain and Water": a rock and pebble garden; a traditional garden design to represent a landscape of mountains and streams without using water
Kegon-kyō ،o the Avatamsaka Sutra; Flower Adornment (Ornament) Sutra; Flower-Garland Sutra
Kentōshi g Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty; cultural delegation to the Tang Dynasty
Kigan F wish-fulfilling prayer
Kitō F soliciting prayer to a Buddha or deity for (protection, blessing, etc.)
Kin gold
Kin-paku gold leaf; gold foil
Kokera-fuki shake (or wooden shingle) roof (or thatching)
Kokubun-ji a provincial monastery (temple) placed by Emperor Shōmu
Kokubun-niji a provincial convent (nunnery) placed by Emperor Shōmu
Kokuhō (a) national treasure (item)
Koma-inu (a pair of) lion-dog guardians (or guardian beasts) (placed at the both sides of temple or shrine gate)
Kōmoku-ten LړV Virupaksha (Great Seer) (one of the Four Heavenly Kings; protectors of Buddhism; protects the west)
Kōshitsu c the Imperial House
Kōtaishi cq the Crown Prince
Kōzoku c the Imperial Family
Kugi-kakkushi BB nail cover; decorative nail head cover; ornamental nail cover -->Kugi-kakkushi
Kuri ɗ a kitchen (building) of temple; living quarters for the abbot in temple
Kuruma-yose Ԋ a vehicle (carriage) access entrance -->Kuruma-yose
-Kyō - the capital (the place where the imperial court is located)
 M    Page Top
Mi- ݁ij prefix to add respect and reverence to words: e.g. Mihotoke (Buddha); Mikokoro (venerable person's heart; mind)
Min (the) Ming (Dynasty) (an ancient Chinese dynasty; 1368 - 1644)
Mitarashi a lavabo; a hand (washing; cleansing) purification area
Miya { a Shinto shrine; an imperial residence (palace); a prince/princess; a house of prince
Miyage yY a souvenir
Metsuke ڕt a (government) inspector in the Edo period
Mon a gate
Mon a family crest
 N    Page Top
Nageshi a decorative horizontal bar (between pillars)
Nattō [ fermented soybeans
Nanboku-chō-jidai k the Northern and Southern Courts Period (1330 to 1393)
Nando [ a closet room
Ni-no-maru ̊ No.2 Fortress; the outer fortress
 O    Page Top
O- prefix to add politeness or respect to the word: e.g. Otōsan (father); Omatsuri (festival; enshrinement)
On- prefix to add respect and reverence to the word: e.g. Onte (noble person's hand); Onme (noble person's eyes)
Omiyage yY a souvenir; O- (prefix to add politeness or respect to the word) + miyage (souvenir)
Ōnin-no-ran the War of Ōnin (1467 to 1477: the war heralding the era of warring states in Japan, fought mainly in Kyoto, between the factions led by the Hosokawa and Yamana clans)
 R    Page Top
Rahatsu snail-shaped hair knots; tightly-curled hair knots (of Buddha statue)
Ranma a decorative transom -->Ranma
Reijō a pilgrimage place (temple); ascetic training grounds
Rinzai-shū ՍϏ@ the Rinzai denomination (started by Eisai in Kamakura period)
Rōjū V an Elder (highest government official title next to shogun in the Edo period)
Rushana-butsu Ḏɓߕ Vairochana (Illuminator) Buddha (a Buddha representation depicted in the Avatamsaka Sutra)
Ryōbo ˕ a royal tomb
 S    Page Top
Sabi beauty of profundity imbued in antiquity; the Japanese spirit of aesthetically appreciating the profundity of old things
Sa-daijin b the Minister of the Left; the Chief Cabinet Secretary
Sadō a tea ceremony
Sadō-ka a tea master
Sai-iki the Western Regions; Xiyu
Sankin Kotai daimyo's mandatory living in the capital and territory by turn (in Edo period)
Satori enlightenment; awakening
Sawara a kind of cypress (botanical name; Chamaecyparis pisifera
Sekai-bunka-isan EY a World Cultural Heritage site
Sekigahara-no-tatakai փ̐킢 the Battle of Sekigahara (fought in 1600 over the rulership of the Japanese lands and won by the Tokugawa clan)
Sengoku-jidai the Era of Warfare (in Japan); the Era of Warring States (in Japan) (ca. 1467 to 1573)
Shari-den ɗa a stupa (structure to enshrine the Buddha's relics)
Shichi-fuku-jin _ the Seven Lucky Gods: Ebisu, Daikoku-ten (Mahakala), Bishamon-ten (Vaishravana), Bezai-ten (Sarasvati), Fukurokuju, Jurōjin (Gama) and Hotei (Budai)
Shikii ~ a threshold; sill
Shinden-zukuri Qa the Shinden Style; the Noble House Style; the Heian Noble House Style
Shingon-shū ^@ the Shingon denomination (a denomination of Buddhism founded by Master Kūkai)
Shinpan e the relative of the Tokugawa; Tokugawa clan daimyo (feudal lord)
Shiragi V Silla (an ancient Korean kingdom; 668 - 935)
Shiten-nō lV the Four Heavenly Kings (protectors of Buddhism: Kōmoku-ten, Jikoku-ten, Tamon-ten, Zōjō-ten)
Shō-en a manor (a land privately owned by aristcrats or temples in times onward from the late Nara period)
Sho-in @ a writing room; abbot's study (desk)
Sho-in-zukuri @ the Shoin Style; (Buddhist) Abbot's Study Style -->Sho-in-zukuri
Shoso-in q@ the Shosoin Repository
Shugendō C Japanese mountain asceticism (established based on syncretic fusion of Shintoism, Taoism, Esoteric Buddhism and mountain shamanism.
Shōji q sliding (Shoji) door; wooden grid door
Shōrō O a belfry
-Shū -@ denomination (used like a suffix); e.g. Shingon-shū = Shingon denomination
Shumoku a wooden bell hammer (striker)
Sōrin the finial of pagoda; the nine-ringed finial
Sukashi-bori wood (metal) openwork
Sukiya-zukuri the Sukiya style; the typical tea house design; the Tea House Style; the Humble Cottage Style
 T    Page Top
Taisei-Hōkan the Restoration of Imperial Rule; Handover of Power to the Emperor (The 15th or last Tokugawa shogun handed over the rule to the emperor in 1867.)
Tamon-ten V Vaishravana (Great Hearer) (one of the Four Heavenly Kings; protectors of Buddhism; protects the north)
Tendai-shū V@ the Tendai denomination (a denomination of Buddhism founded by Master Saichō)
Tenshu-kaku Vt a donjon (ex. 5 tier donjon); watchtower
Tera a Buddhist temple
Tang; the Tang Dynasty (an ancient dynasty in China; 618 - 907)
Toko-no-ma ̊ decorative alcove (with a raised platform) -->Toko-no-ma
Toko-bashira an alcove pillar
Tozama-daimyō Oli喼j former opponent daimyo (feudal lord) (who made oath of allegiance to the Tokugawa family after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600)
Tsuke-sho-in t@ an attached study; attached writing table
 U    Page Top
Uchi-bori x an inner moat
U-daijin Eb the Minister of the Right; the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary (assistant to the Minister of the Left or Sadaijin)
Uguisu-bari the Nightingale Floors; squeaking security floors -->Uguisu-bari
Urushi lacquer
 W    Page Top
Wabi ̂ beauty of simplicity and humbleness; the Japanese spirit of aesthetically appreciating what's simple and humble
 Y    Page Top
Yamato a ancient name of present Nara Prefecture
Yoroi Z an armor
 Z    Page Top
Zashiki ~ a formal audience hall
Zen T the Zen denomination; meditation
Zen-shū T@ the Zen denomination (a Buddhist denomination founded by Bodhidharma in China; includes the Rinzai and Sōtō denominations in Japan)
Zōjō-ten V Virudhaka (Patron of Growth) (one of the Four Heavenly Kings; protectors of Buddhism; protects the south)