Onmyōdō (meaning "The Way of Yin and Yang") is Japanese-style spell-casting. Methods range from Yin/Yang, Five Elements, Shikigami, and Divination to O-Fuda and Alchemy. Onmyodo is a very eclectic blend; while it can be treated as simply Rule Magic, it also has elements of Force Magic and Theurgy.
Over the centuries, the various arts and practices of Onmyōdō gradually became absorbed into Shinto and Buddhist tradition, and also into the disciplines of the Shugenja, and other ascetic groups. Thus, in many anime and manga works, Miko (shrine maidens) are shown as knowing how to summon and control Shikigami.
A practitioner of Onmyōdō is called an Onmyōji. Traditionally, the only ones able to legally practice Onmyōdō were appointed by the Imperial government, and were in fact, civil servants of the Bureau of Onmyō. During the Heian period, Onmyōji had quite a bit of political clout, but when the imperial court fell into decline, their status as civil servants was lost. Their original responsibilities included keeping track of the calendar, divination, and protection of the capital from evil spirits. They also watched for auspicious and/or harmful influences in the earth, (earthquake detection).
The most famous Onmyōji is Abe no Seimei, who is roughly analogous to the Merlin of Arthurian legend. Like Merlin, it is said that he was not entirely human. Abe no Seimei is a documented historical personage who lived from about 921 CE to around 1005 CE, the middle of the Heian Period. A shrine dedicated to him was built in Kyoto soon after his death, and still exists today.
- Gobosei (pentagram)
- In Japanese culture, this is a symbol of magical power, associated with Abe no Seimei; it is a diagram of the "overcoming cycle" of the five Chinese elements (Wu Xing).
- In modern Japanese literature, ofuda are always rectangles of paper with holy or magical symbols/spells written on them. They may be used to create a protective ward, seal a building, dispel evil influences, or even as a weapon against those of malign intent.
- Shikigami are spirits called forth to act as servants for the summoner, similar to a Familiar in Western mythology. In modern representation, a paper doll is used as a focus for the spell, if the shikigami is dispelled, the paper doll remains.
- Kuji-In and Kuji-kiri
- The Nine Syllable Seals and the Nine Symbolic Cuts are also among Onmyōdō techniques, though they were never unique to Onmyōdō.
- Eastern Zodiac
- One of the divination means Onmyōji employed. During the Heian era, Onmyōji were also responsible for making calendars. As part of that system, The Four Gods were thus also incorporated into Onmyōdō.
- Feng Shui
- Another Chinese influence amalgamated into Onmyōdō.
More information can be found, of course, at Wikipedia.
- In Doomed Megalopolis, an anime based upon Teito Monogatari (in Literature, below), the villain Yasunori Kato is an onmyoji. He is shown with gobosei on his gloves; as his magic often involves hand signs the gobosei may have served to focus/increase his power. At the beginning of the anime, Kato contends with the Tsuchimikado Family (the official clan of onmyodo specialists who served the Japanese Imperial Court in the Edo and Bakumatsu eras) led by Yasumasa Hirai, who is a descendant of Abe no Seimei. Later on in the anime, it is determined that Kato was born in the same hometown of Abe no Seimei, implying that he might also be a descendant (or at least a student). Throughout the anime, Kato utilizes many different onmyodo practices, including Shikigami, Feng Shui, and Kuji-In to achieve his ends. The heroes use o-fuda to resist his magics.
- Lin Koujo from Ghost Hunt.
- Sumeragi Subaru and Sakurazuka Seishirou, from CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon and X 1999.
- In Shaman King, onmyoji are high-level shamans; most notably, series Big Bad Hao Asakura is an onmyoji (and may in fact be partially inspired by Abe no Seimei).
- Abe no Yasuaki from the game and anime Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is an onmyoji and a disciple of Abe no Seimei.
- Ken Akamatsu's Mahou Sensei Negima features onmyoji as well as Western mages.
- The protagonist of Gainax's Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai is drawn to a parallel world where he learns the the art of onmyodo from Abe no Seimei.
- Not to mention the events of the anime only happened because Abe no Seimei tried to save his best friend and love interest after they both died due to a love triangle. He remade the world into our world, but when he realized events were about to repeat, he just left, presumably returning to his own world
- The anime and manga Onmyou Taisenki revolves almost completely around onmyodo.
- Ask Dr. Rin features an onmyoji named Tokiwa Takashi.
- Abe no Seimei himself shows up in New Getter Robo as an antagonist of the Getter Team in the latter half of the series. Apparently, in a straight up battle, Onmyodo > Getter Rays.
- Yami no Matsuei involves a considerable amount of onmyodo-style magic, including extensive use of shikigami and o-fuda.
- Sakura Yamazaki from Blue Seed is an onmyoji (translated to "faith healer" in the English subs).
- Otogi Zoshi includes a lot of onmyodo complete with Abe no Seimei.
- Isumi of Hayate the Combat Butler can do nearly anything related to exorcism via this method.
- Isumi also enchanted Tama via this method to enable him to become a Talking Animal.
- Nakahito in Steel Angel Kurumi is an aspiring onmyoji, hoping to one day be as good as his older brother. His latent power is given as the reason for his being able to activate Kurumi in the first episode.
- Shonen Onmyouji is about the teenage grandson of Abe no Seimei (see above) and his struggles to become an onmyoji.
- Parodied on Keroro Gunsou when Highly-Visible Ninja Koyuki is suddenly able to use onmyodo to unseal a cursed dungeon. She's not very good at it, though, and by the end of the episode, all of the Keronians have gotten accidentally possessed.
- Yamigumo Nami of Silent Möbius uses Onmyodo as her form of fighting magic as a Miko.
- Rei Hino/Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon can use this whether transformed or not, and in particular chooses ofuda to expel demons with "Akuryo Taisan!".
- The Kekkaishi have shades of this; they have Ofuda which they use to summon Shikigami, when they need to do things such as clean up the mess they make when they fight to sustain the Masquerade.
- Tsuchimikado Motoharu of To Aru Majutsu no Index is a highly-skilled onmyoji, and is even descended from a famous clan of them. However, having undergone the Power Development Curriculum, using these abilities causes a backlash in his body, and is potentially fatal for him. Luckily, his ability, Level 0 Auto-Rebirth, allows him to bypass this for a limited number of times.
- Keikain Yura of Nurarihyon no Mago come from a onmyouji family specialising in shikigami and hunting youkai.
- Abe no Seimei himself and ofuda magic (used by the Octobrist Organisation) also appear in Drifters.
- Nekoyashki from Rental Magica is an onmyoji. His four cats are shikigami - or, possibly, The Four Gods.
- The films Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis and Tokyo: The Last War are adaptations of the novel Teito Monogatari (see Literature below).
- The films Onmyoji (I & II) are a fictitious account of Abe no Seimei based on the novel series of the same name (which also inspired a manga adaptation, also of the same name).
Literature[edit | hide]
- In the 1985 bestselling novel Teito Monogatari written by occult specialist Hiroshi Aramata, the protagonist Yasunori Kato is a master onmyoji who wants to cripple the Japanese Empire. The first part of the novel revolves around a battle between two factions of onmyoji: the Tsuchimikado Family and Kato. The Tsuchimikado Family is descended from the clan of Abe no Seimei and its leader, Yasumasa Hirai, is a descendant of Seimei himself. It is also the faction that serves the Emperor Of Japan, making it official. Yasunori Kato also claims to be a descendant of Abe no Seimei, but since he doesn't serve the Japanese Empire, his practice of onmyodo is considered heretical. Kato's first name, Yasunori, is derived from the name of Seimei's teacher, Kamo no Yasunori. The bestselling, critically acclaimed novel is widely considered the beginning of a resurgence of popular interest in onmyoji in Japanese media.
- Shonen Onmyouji chronicles the life of Abe no Seimei's youngest grandson and his journey in becoming an onmyouji. There is also an anime adaptation.
- The villain in the Sandman story The Dream Hunters is an onmyoji.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Abe no Seimei herself (!) appears, mystical powers intact, as a playable character in Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors. Cue pentagrams and shikigami.
- Keiya Tenpouin from the Playstation game Evil Zone.
- The PlayStation game Final Fantasy Tactics includes a Job called Onmyoji (translated as "Oracle" for the English release of the game).
- Player character Sayo-chan / Pocky from the Kiki Kai Kai / Pocky & Rocky series uses ofuda as ranged weapons.
- Gensokyo is the Clap Your Hands If You Believe mystical setting of the Touhou series, where many forms of magic co-exist. The Miko Hakurei Reimu and Kochiya Sanae use ofuda and there are some on Fujiwara no Mokou's pants, probably as flame retardant; Reimu also has her smiting Hakurei Ying-Yang Orbs. Rumia is a Youkai with a sealing ofuda in her hair which she can't touch. Patchouli Knowledge prominently uses elemental magic based on Eastern elements (wood, metal, etc.). Yakumo Yukari has a kitsune shikigami named Ran; Ran has her own nekomata shikigami in the form of Chen.
- Many of Sanae's spellcards are also based off of onmyodo, most notably her pentagram-filled cards in Mountain of Faith and her "Nine Syllable Stabs" card in Subterranean Animism.
- The Tanuki-woman, Mamizou Futatsuiwa, has a huge number of spells involving paper doll shikigami. They come in human-shaped, dog-shaped, bird-shaped, and frog-shaped varieties. She uses them as bullets, as familiars that shoot bullets themselves, or as both at once. She also has an attack where she summons copies of herself, presumably more shikigami familiiars.
- Several characters, including Abe no Seimei, her rival Ashiga Doman and his disciples from Kuon are identified as onmyouji and can use various kinds of magic.
- Some of this makes appearances in Okami; notably, ofuda "prayer slips" are used by Rao in the Ghost Ship to dispel powerful curses and destroy ghosts.
- Chinnen's stage in Power Instinct Matrimelee has onmyoji Yabeno Hikomaro, shrine maiden Kotohime, and three backup monks (referred to only as the Bouzu Dancers) dancing in the background to a surprisingly catchy tune. The song, and the unlockable music video for it, became something of a meme.
- Kanetsugu Naoe uses onmyodo in Samurai Warriors. His Ofuda shoot Frickin' Laser Beams.
- Onmyodo is the magic system in Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito and its sequel Aoi Shiro. Pretty much anyone capable of supernatural feat use Onmyodo to some degree, but Sakuya tops everyone by using it to kill an evil god.
- Onmyodo, amongst other magic systems, consistently appears throughout Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It's usually in the form of the Instant Death Holy Hand Grenade Hama spell.
- Japan used the Chinese calendar until after the opening of Japan.