A kodama (木霊 or 木魂) is a spirit in Japanese folklore that lives in a tree (similar to the dryads of Greek mythology). Also known as kodama is the tree itself where one of these spirits dwells. On the other hand, the echo phenomenon, within Japanese folklore, is also known by this name.
Kodamas are spirits from the mythology of Japan, inhabitants of thick forests. They are usually human in appearance, and each individual is unique in appearance and personality.
It is said that they can appear in non-human forms, and can appear as beautiful or terrible as they wish. Most of them are shown with an adorable appearance. Their bodies, short in stature, are semi-transparent, pale green or off-white.
In Japanese mythology they are known as tree spirits in general. They do not necessarily represent a particular tree, although some of them are directly associated with a specific tree. It is believed that these spirits can move to another tree, or be born through its seed.
Most of these spirits are displeased with those who have no respect for the environment. If a tree is cut down irresponsibly, one or more kodamas may seek revenge. Most of these spirits are peaceful and calm in nature; they like to share knowledge and wisdom with those who know how to communicate with them.
Kodamas are surprisingly strong and powerful spirits, given their long lifespan. Their communication with the world and forces goes beyond the understanding of many other beings.
Kodama Popular culture
Characters and plots related to Japanese mythology are a recurring resource in products related to manga, anime and video games.
- In the Nintendo Switch video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, forest spirits called "kolog" can be found. These are a clear reference to the Kodama, as they have characteristics of their own, such as physically resembling humans, although minuscule in stature, as well as being green. They live in the forest of the Deku Tree, a huge tree that seems to be the son or reincarnation of the Deku Tree found in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
- Included in the collection of games developed by Atlus Megami Tensei is a recruitable demon named Kodama. He is present in two of the franchise's games: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE.
- In the seventh installment of Zun's toho saga, the kodama appear many times throughout the game, appearing as small balls of pollen moving at full speed, celebrating the arrival of spring after a very long winter.
- In the 1997 animated film Princess Mononoke, by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, kodamas are depicted as small white creatures with large black heads, eyes and mouths. Their heads are always tilted to one side, and when they move their heads, they shake and make a chattering sound. At certain moments in the movie they make this sound all at once, such as when the Nightwalker appears and transforms into the Forest Spirit.
- In the anime Ao no Exorcist, Shiemi Moriyama is able to summon a kodama.
- In the anime Digimon, Palmon is a Kodama.
- In the video game Super Mario Galaxy 2, kodamas appear as an easter egg. If you use the first viewpoint on a mountain in the Shiverburn Galaxy, three mysterious creatures can be seen approaching. There is no way to see them up close, even though some people have tried to do so. The same thing happens in the video game Super Mario 3D Land, where a ghost appears at the end of World 4-4, if you jump on the last few platforms before beating the level.
- In the video game Nioh the kodamas are depicted as small green beings with bowls on their heads and sometimes carrying a staff. In the course of the story they help the protagonist to find weapons, armor or additional amrita in exchange for a modest amount of money.
- French shoegaze band Alcest has an album titled Kodama.
- In the track 光 Luz, by Venezuelan rapper Lil Supa, a voiceover mentions the word "kodama" several times in the track.
- In the 2008 Spanish animated film El espíritu del bosque (The Spirit of the Forest), creatures very similar to kodamas appear.
- In "The Way of the Warriors" from the Timeless Methodology of Yoga and Meditation for Education, the AmiRam belong to the kodama species.
- The pokémon Trevenant is probably based on a kodama, which sometimes inhabit ancient trees.