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Kaminari and Inazuma (雷と稲妻 – Thunder and Lightning)

  • Kaminari and Inazuma


    “Kaminari” (雷) is a natural phenomenon that generates light and sound due to discharge in the air, and is often translated as “thunder.”

    The etymology of “kaminari” is simple — it comes from “kami no narasu oto” (神の鳴らす音), the literal meaning of which is “the sound rung by God.”

    On the other hand, there is another word “inazuma” (稲妻), which has the same meaning of “kaminari,” though “inazuma” is often translated into “lightning.”

    The “ina” (稲) of “inazuma” means “rice,” and “zuma/tsuma” (妻) means “husband” here.
    (Note that “tsuma” means “wife” now, but once it could mean both “wife” and “husband.”)

    Thunder/lightning often occurs from summer to autumn, which is when rice grows.

    Because of this, it was thought that lightning is a husband of rice (ine/ina no tsuma/zuma), and we have come to call lightning “inazuma.”

    Original sentence