Glossary (A-H)

NOTE: "ô" and "û" denote longer sound of "o" and "u" respectively. These letters sound like oh and ooh. These are used in the Glossary pages only.

NOTE: the plural form of Japanese nouns are same as singular form.


  • Amida - Amitabha; the Buddha who is the ruler of the Western Paradise (Jôdo, or Pure Land)
  • an - a hermitage; a small house attached to a big Zen temple, where monks live in


  • -bashi - a bridge; used only as a component of a noun; e.g. ishi-bashi or stone bridge; see also hashi
  • Bosatsu - a bodhisattva; a deity destined to become a Buddha; he assists others attain enlightenment; Kan'non-Bosatsu, Miroku-Bosatsu, Jizô-Bosatsu, Kokû-Bosatsu, etc.
  • Butsuden - a temple building where a Buddhist image is enshrined; esp. a Zen temple building where the primary Buddhist image is enshrined (same as hondô)


  • chaniwa - a tea garden; a small garden that is attached to a tea-ceremony building; one of three major types of Japanese gardens; other two are chisen-teien and karesansui (-teien); also roji
  • chigo - a page; a child who takes part in a festive procession.
  • chisen-teien - a garden with water (i. e. pond); fountain, stream, or waterfalls may also be designed into; one of three major types of Japanese gardens; other two are karesansui (-teien) that does not have water at all, and chaniwa; also, ikeniwa (a pond garden)


  • -dera - a Buddhist temple; used only as a component of a noun. e.g. Kiyomizu-dera; see also -ji and tera.
  • - a hall, especially that of a Buddhist temple or a Shintô shrine
  • -dôri - a street; used only as a component of a noun; e.g. Shijo-dôri; also tôri.


  • fusuma - a papered sliding door for partitioning rooms
  • fusuma-e - a painting on fusuma; also shôheki-ga


  • -gawa - a river; used only as a component of a noun; e.g. Kamo-gawa; also kawa.
  • geiko - Kyoto dialect for geisha; a female professional entertainer performing traditional dance and music to wealthy customers in ochaya.
  • genkan - a foyer area where you have to take off your shoes before entering the interior of a building.
  • Genji (1) - Minamoto clan, esp. Seiwa Genji, a clan that was descended from a grandson of emperor Seiwa and flourished as buke (samurai family, or warrior family); Minamoto-no-Yoritomo who founded the Kamakura shogunate (1185-1333) and the Ashikagas of the Muromachi shogunate (1336-1573) were of this family line
  • Genji (2) - Hikaru Genji, the hero of Genji-monogatari (the tale of Genji) authored by a court lady Murasaki Shikibu one thousand years ago


  • haiden - a hall of worship in a Shintô shrine
  • haikai (haiku) - a seventeen-syllabled poem; as a general rule, a word that express a season must be included
  • hashi (the first syllable pronounced lower pitch than the second one) - a bridge; can be used as an individual noun or a component of a noun; e. g. ô-hashi, a big bridge; also bashi
  • hashi (the first syllable pronounced higher pitch than the second one) - chopsticks
  • hattô - a lecture hall of a Zen temple; same as other Buddhist sects' "kôdô"
  • Hata-shi - Hata clan; Korean decent wealthy family that had advanced skills and knowledge of agriculture, silkworm raising, weaving and flood controlling; founded big Buddhist temples and Shintô shrines, e.g. Kôryu-ji temple, Matsuno'o Taisha and Fushimi-Inari shrines
  • Heike - the Taira House; one of family lines of Heiji or Taira-uji that means Taira clan; several grand-sons of Emperor Kanmu left the Imperial Family and were given the family name Taira;
  • higashi - east
  • hiraniwa -a flat garden; see the karesansui garden of Ryoan-ji
  • hôjô - literally, a one-jo square (three-meter square or ten-foot square); a Zen Buddhist temple building in which chief priest lives; In later years, also used to receive visitors
  • honden - the main hall of a Shintô shrine.
  • hondô - the main hall of a Buddhist temple.