Glossary (I-N)

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.


  • ichiba - a market
  • ike -a pond
  • ikeniwa - a pond garden
  • ikebana - flower arrangement
  • in - a building of a Buddhist temple or a Shintô shrine; houses of nobles; an honorific title of a retired emperor, a mother of an emperor, etc.
  • ishigumi (iwagumi) - a stone arrangement or a stone grouping; one of the most important elements (if not the most) of Japanese garden


  • -ji - a Buddhist temple; used only as a component of a noun, e.g. Kinkaku-ji.; see dera and tera
  • jinja - a Shintô shrine
  • jizô - a guardian Bosatsu who takes the first priority for relieving children and the weak
  • -jô - a castle; used only as a component of a noun, e.g. Fushimi-jô; see shiro
  • jôdo - Pure Land; Buddhists' paradise that is situated in the far west
  • jôdo(-shiki) teien - a Pure Land garden; a style of a temple garden that is intended to realize Pure Land in this world; the garden of Byôdô-in is an example of this type.


  • kaiyû-shiki-teien - a stroll garden; this type of garden is designed to be viewed from winding paths
  • kaisan - the founder of a Buddhist temple
  • Kamo-shi - Kamo clan; powerful clan resided in the north-eastern part of Kyoto; founded Kamigamo and Shimogamo-jinja shrines
  • Kannon (Kan'non) - a bodhisattva who serves as one of Amida's two principal attendants; revered especially because of his compassionate vow to save all beings
  • kanshô-shiki-teien - a viewing garden; a garden that is laid out for viewing from a room of a building; also, zakan-shiki teien
  • karesansui (-teien) - garden designed without using water; dry landscape garden; water is represented by sand, gravel, or moss; one of three major styles of Japanese gardens; other two are chisen-teien (or ikeniwa) and chaniwa.
  • Karikomi - clipped shrubs
  • kawa - river
  • kimono - a traditional outer garment
  • kita - north
  • kôdô - a lecture hall of a Buddhist temple other than Zen sects; called "hattô" in Zen temples
  • kondô - literally "golden hall"; main hall of a Buddhist temple
  • kuri - a kitchen of a Buddhist temple; in a wider sense, a temple building where the chief priest resides or priests' living quarters


  • machiya - a Japanese traditional wooden house in a town or a city.
  • maccha - powdered green tea used in tea ceremony; spelled also matcha.
  • mae - in front of
  • maiko - apprentice geiko; click HERE to see photos of maiko
  • matsuri - a festival
  • michi - a road
  • miko - a shrine maiden
  • minami - south
  • Minamoto - family name of Genji clan
  • mon - a gate
  • monzeki - a temple of which the head priests had always been a member of the imperial family or of the nobility.


  • nishi - west
  • niwa - a garden
  • Nyorai - Tathagata, the one who came from the world of truth; Buddha; Buddhist deities of the highest rank; there are several Nyorai, e.g. Shaka-Nyorai (the founder of Buddhism), Dainichi-Nyorai, Yakushi-Nyorai, Amida-Nyorai, etc.