Do you know the Japanese proverb, 禊? The origin and the meaning of the proverb.



In daily life, we Japanese frequently use proverbs, common phrases and idioms that are rooted from Japanese culture and history.

Each of them has a different meaning.

Do you know some of them?


Today, I’m introducing the proverb “禊.”

Do you know what it means, and how to read?


Some of you may think that it’s a kind of common knowledge, but some may know it for the first time.


Today, I’m introducing the meaning of the Japanese proverb 禊, the ways to use and some examples.

I’m sure that you are interested in using it after knowing what it means!




1. How to read 禊, and the origin of 禊



禊 is read as “misogi.”

For those who like to watch Japanese variety programs, you may heard the proverb.

禊(misogi) means to purify your body by water in order to drive away and cleanse impurity and sin.



The origin of the proverb 禊(misogi), allegedly dates back to the early eight century, when the famous book Kojiki(古事記) was written.

In Kojiki(古事記), Izanaginomikoto(伊耶那岐命) went to meet his wife Izanaminomikoto(伊耶那美命) who passed away and lived in a world of the dead, called Yomino-kuni(黄泉の国).

After that, the book says that he described the world as dirty and impure, then he purified his body when he came back to the world he lived.

He threw away his cloths to go into a river, and washing himself in the river, he said “御身を漱ぎたまふ(onmi-wo-susugi-tamafu: I’m washing myself)”


It is said that this phrase was shortened, and the proverb 禊(misogi) was created.



2. What 禊(misogi) is about?



Indeed, 禊(misogi) is everywhere in Japanese society, even though it’s too common to notice it is actually one of 禊(misogi).


For example, in Japanese shrines, most of them have a place called 手水舎(temizu-ya/chouzu-ya), where you wash hands before praying for purifying you.

It is one of 禊(misogi).

Another good example is that the custom that a person stands under a fall.

More common example is bathing.

Originally taking a bath means to purify one’s body.



3.  How to use the proverb 禊(misogi)



Here, I’m telling you how to use the proverb.

禊(misogi) is used when you (1) wash your body to purify yourself in water, (2) clean your tarnished image, and (3)repent for your sinful actions and try to reform your way.


Here are some examples.


* 一年間ののために、滝に打たれて精神を鍛えなおす

( For 禊(misogi) this year, I stand under a fall to exercise my mind.)


* 人のためになる行いをして、これまでの悪行のとした。

( I did things beneficial for people for 禊(misogi) of my past bad behaviors.)


Maybe you notice that the Japanese proverb 禊(misogi) is used to describe some actions to repent one’s bad behaviors and the will to reform oneself.





How was it?

Like 禊(misogi), Japanese proverb makes us easy to express what we really mean.

And it’s fun to find the origin and the hidden meanings of a Japanese proverb, if a proverb is very common to us.


I’m happy if you use the Japanese proverb 禊(misogi) effectively in daily conversation.