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The Japanese noun Template:Nihongo[note 1] is a word of Buddhist origin and uncertain etymology.[1] It has several meanings, all but a few directly linked to Buddhism. It can refer to:

  • A person who has achieved satori (state of enlightenment) and has therefore become a "buddha".[1] (In Buddhism, the term "buddha" in the lower case refers to a person who has become enlightened (i.e., awakened to the truth).)[2][note 2]
  • The historical Gautama Buddha himself[1]
  • The statue or the name of a buddha[1]
  • The laws of Buddhism[1]
  • Figuratively, the performing of a Buddhist memorial service. The Eiga Monogatari for example contains a sentence in which the term is used in that sense.[1]
  • In common parlance, a dead person; his or her soul[1]
  • Figuratively, a benevolent person or someone dear to one's heart[1]
  • Hotoke can also be a person's name or a nickname. It is for example a female character in the Heike Monogatari[1] and daimyō Kōriki Kiyonaga's nickname.


  1. Note that the very same kanji 仏 in modern Japanese can be also read futsu, but is often used as an abbreviation for the word "furansu", or France. It is the first of three characters used to write the name of that country (Template:Nihongo), in a somewhat uncommon practice called ateji, in which kanji are matched to the phonetic sound of a word with little regard for the indicative meaning of the kanji.
  2. The term is also sometimes used to represent Buddhism as a whole. For example, the expression Template:Nihongo draws a distinction between Japanese kami and the enlightened beings of foreign Buddhism.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Iwanami Template:Nihongo Japanese dictionary, 6th Edition (2008), DVD version
  2. New Oxford American Dictionary 2nd edition, 2005, Oxford University Press, Inc.

ja:仏 Template:WP content

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