Kodama – The Tree Spirit

Kodama are spirits in Japanese folk law that inhabit trees. The term is also used to denote a tree in which a Kodama supposedly resides. A kodama’s outer appearance can be very much like an ordinary tree, they are said to take on the appearance of atmospheric ghost lights, of beasts, and of humans, and there is also a story where a Kodama who, in order to meet a human it fell in love with, took on the appearance of a human itself. So according to all different tales, they can take the shape of almost anything they desire and have complex emotions. But in films such as Princess Mononoke, (directed by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli) they are depicted as small ghostly or otherworldly figures that reside in the trees and sometimes show themselves to deserving humans. They are portrayed as small, white humanoids with large, rattling heads and mask-like features.

Image result for kodama princess mononoke

The folk law dictates if someone attempts to cut down a tree with Kodama in, they would become cursed etc. and it is thus considered to have some kind of mysterious supernatural power. In modern times, cutting down a tree which houses a Kodama is thought to bring misfortune, and such trees are often marked. This idea of marking the trees is what made me relate to the trees in Roath park that had been marked to be cut down. My thought being, that instead these markings could mean they were protected or sacred.


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