What is Onmyouji?


Do you know Onmyouji?


You might have heard of it at least once as it appeared in some anime, games and manga!

I guess that every Otaku may go through this path.


Musou OROCHI / Abe no Seimei




Gintama / Ketsuno Seimei




Harukanaru toki no naka de / Abe no Yasuaki




Shounen Onmyouji  / Abe no Masahiro 





Kyougoku Natsuhiko SeriesChuzenji Akihiko


Sousei no Onmyouji




Drifters / Abe no Seimei





However, what is actually Onmyouji??? Curse?? Shikigami ??(・ω・?)

What was ‘Onmyouji’ doing actually? So, let’s study what the Onmyouji is!





☆The history of Onmyouji


Originally, Onmyouji is an actual profession working for the Imperial Court. It existed for the last 650 years and they mastered Onmyoudou. In other words, they are government officials!


Onmyoudou is a study to understand the universe of the whole creation with the origin of the Chinese philosophies of Wu Xing (five elements) and Yin and yang - “2 principles of Yin(Negative) and Yang(Positive) as well as 5 elements of woods, fire, earth, metal, and water are the origin of the whole creation” - which idea was created in the Old China.






Their main job around in the Heian period (794-1185) is to tell somebody’s fortune with astronomy and astrology, and to study about city planning, calendar and time with astronomical observation and natural observation etc., so the scientific side was emphasized.


For example, there was no such a thing that they needed to get rid of monsters by controlling Shikigami, but they were just officials to study nationally confidential matters based on the study.


As they belonged to a group called Onmyouryou as Onmyouji, Onmyou no kami who is the highest rank of the group, Tenmon-hakase (in charge of observing the astronomy and report if there is any strange change), Reki-hakase (in charge of making calendar) and other students studying astronomy and calendar under the guidance of them. It is thought that the people working for Onmyouryou must have been very intelligent and knowledgeable experts.(・ω・´●)





In the Heian period, more and more ritual actions were taken such as fortune telling based on the abundant knowledge built through many studies, as well as praying to wish for recovery of illness. Also, the knowledge was out to the normal people, which is how private Onmyouji started appearing and it has been becoming the occult, as known currently.


Whereas, workers of Onmyouji had strong powers to control in a magical aspect the private life and the battles of high rank people who emphasizes their daily fortunes. So, their job was not any more related to confidential matters, but their power reached the peak. (^ω^ ≡ °д°)


(* In the Heian period, ‘Goryou Shinkou (rituals to placate the souls of the dead)’ got popular. Aristocracy repeated many political battles and was scared if the people who died with resentment such as Sugawara no Michizane, Taira no Masakado, become Onryou (vengeful ghosts) and they may make natural disasters. Since every battle created Onryou, the faith was popular among the aristocracy society that scared the countless curses and Onryou. This is how Onmyouji gained power.)





After middle age (12th century), the Imperial Court lost their power together with Onmyouji. Although they tried to survive and in the Edo period (17th century) the Tsuchimikado family captured the profession of Onmyoudou in Japan's feudal government that was assigned to make calendar, Onmyouryou was finally demolished in the early Meiji period (around 1800) because it was thought that it avoided the installation of the modern science. After that, Onmyouji became Shinto priest emphasizing the Shinto aspect or astrologer with Feng Shui, and the people who succeeded the tradition are still now doing it although there are not many…(σω-)。о゜




☆The charisma, ‘Onmyouji Abe no Seimei’


After we learned the historical aspect, we want to see this person of Onmyouji next, who is Abe no Seimei!


Abe no Seimei(921~1005)is the leading Onmyouji in Japanese history, who was famous in the middle of the Heian period.

Seimei was very intelligent since he was little and studied Onmyoudou and astronomy as the pupil of Onmyouji - the father Kamo no Tadayuki and the son Yasunori.

It is known that Seimei became Onmyoudou and astronomy’s professional executive as the first person, and collected extreme credits from everyone as the close aide of the 6th emperor.


Abe no Seimei ensured his position as Onmyouji with his knowledge and skills. His mysterious stories were left in many old books such as “Konjaku Monogatarishū” and “Uji Shūi Monogatari”, regardless of the historical facts or the tradition.


There are all kinds of stories such as his mother was a fox whose name is ‘Kazu no ha’, the Seimei family have Shikikami open doors and bring tea, he taught the emperor how to cure his headache, and he transformed an orange to a mouse. \(^o^)/





We do not know which stories were true among these, but what we know is that Abe no Seimei is very popular and skillful enough for people to make many legendary superhuman stories.


Onmyouji was used for many kinds of old literature and Kabuki themes, but it disappeared from the historical front stage and became suspicious position. However, Aramata Hiroshi’s novel “Teito Monogatari ” resurrected them in the Showa world, and later Yumemakura Baku’s novel “Onmyouji” got the big hit. Since these two novels made the people living in the Heisei world know it radically, ‘Abe no Seimei’ secured his strong position and the current image of Abe no Seimei who used some suspicious techniques as an artistic man was ensured.


Yumemakura Baku’s Novel “Onmyouji” was adapted into manga, movie and drama, which strongly influenced the world of the Japanese style fantasy manga, anime and game!







☆Let’s follow Abe no Seimei


Lastly, I would like to introduce some places to let you feel Abe no Seimei even now!


Kyoto Seimei Shrine



As the name of the shrine, this is the shrine to worship Abe no Seimei. The shrine pavilion was built at the same place with Seimei’s house.

You can see exhibition related to Seimei and get the below talisman and charm!





Osaka Shinoda no mori kuzunoha Inari Shrine



This is the place of the love story between Kuzu no ha, who is told that Seimei’s mother was a legendary fox, and Seimei’s father, Yasuna, which was performed in Bunraku and Kabuki.




You can feel the history and the legend at both places!

When you come to Japan, please visit them!




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