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Raiden or Raijin (雷神?) is a god of lightning, thunder and storms in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology.
His name is derived from the Japanese words rai (雷?, “thunder”) and “god” or “kami” (神 shin?). He is typically depicted as a demon-looking spirit beating drums to create thunder, usually with the symbol tomoe drawn on the drums. He is also known by the following names:
Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami: Yakusa (八, eight) and ikazuchi (雷, thunder) and kami (神, spirit or deity)
Kaminari-sama: kaminari (雷, kaminari, thunder) and -sama (様, a Japanese honorific meaning “master”)
Raiden-sama: rai (雷, thunder), den (電, lightning), and -sama (様, master)
Narukami: naru (鳴, thundering/rolling) and kami (神, spirit or deity)
Raijin was created by the divine pair Izanami and Izanagi after the creation of Japan. There is a legend which says the eight lightning gods were charged with protection of the Dharma by the Buddha. This kind of syncretism is not unusual in Japan, even after the Buddha-kami separation order. The iconography of the Raijin and Fuujin gods has been heavily influenced by Buddhist art, itself influenced by Greek and Indian art.
Some Japanese parents tell their children to hide their belly buttons (or navels) during thunderstorms. This is due to a folk belief that Raijin is sometimes credited with eating the navels or abdomen of children, and in the event of thunder, parents traditionally tell their children to hide their navels so that they are not taken away. Raijin’s companion is the demon Raiju. In Japanese art, the deity is known to challenge Fūjin, the wind god.
Raijin is a well-known deity and his fame has spawned characters in many forms of Japanese media. He is often mocked, for example in an episode of Kyorochan, or in Katamari Damacy where he is one of the largest and most valuable objects in the game that the Prince can roll into his damashi ball of trash. In the tokusatsu series Madan Senki Ryukendo, all three Madan Warriors, right after transforming, say their names followed by the word “Raijin!”, which stands for “wake up!” or “stand up!”. He also appears in a minor role in the Japanese role playing game Final Fantasy VIII as one of Seifer Almasy’s henchmen.