A Shinto Prayer

With all the respect from the depth of our hearts we ask that the gods hear us, such as the spirit that hears our intent together with the spirits of the Sky and the Land. Take the evil, disasters and sins and purify all.

Kimigayo wa
Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
Sazare-ishi no
Iwao to narite
Koke no musu made.


  1. Thanks for this Ronan. We’re glued to our televisions, right now, and our hearts are going out to our friends in Japan. We’re actually heading there in 2 weeks, and this will change things significantly. Such sadness and fear. Meanwhile, I live about 25 miles down the road from Qatif where protesters are taking part in Saudi’s day of rage. A heavy heart I have today.

  2. Thanks, Ronan.

    That poem you quoted is the Japanese National Anthem–a relatively literal translation is

    May your reign
    Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,
    Until the pebbles
    Grow into boulders
    Lush with moss

    It’s set to this music–which seems appropriately solemn for today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L4C4b0RitY

    My time in Japan was spent several hundred kilometers southwest of Sendai–but my thoughts and prayers are with that entire nation today.

  3. My translation of the Japanese national anthem, which you have posted here:

    kimigayo wa
    The reign of the Emperor

    chiyo ni yachiyo ni
    For a thousand generations, for eight* thousand generations–

    sazare ishi no
    Until the pebbles

    Iwao to narite
    become great boulders–

    koke no musu made
    Until moss grows [on them]

    *the number eight is often used symbolically in Chinese and Japanese to mean “numberless” or “complete.” In this case, it means “for all generations, forever.”

  4. Oh man. I hadn’t refreshed the comments when I posted that. Good work, Mark B.

  5. I just copied that from the Wikipedia entry, rwb–your translation (and the comment on the meaning of “eight”) was more deserving of praise!

  6. Thanks Ronan (and Mark and rwb).

  7. rwb, I like that the number 8 symbolizes that. Our western 8 and infinity symbols share the same form, though we don’t invoke 8 in that way.

  8. Mommie Dearest says:

    One of my fondest memories of museum-visiting is stumbling across the Myagi Museum of Art in Sendai, and being blown away by the treasures it held.
    Today I am thinking of all the people who are dead and injured, who we haven’t heard about yet. This is dreadful.

  9. Thank you for this post, Ronan. I served in the Sapporo mission on Hokkaido, so this hits very close to home, so to speak.

  10. I was in both Hachinohe and Sendai just last November. I cry thinking about the devastation and destruction.

    And I haven’t been able to get the Japanese National Anthem music out of my head sice you posted this. Haunting and beautiful at the same time. Thank you, Ronan.

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