小野小町の恋歌の一節。「思いつつ寝（ぬ）ればや人の見えつらむ 夢としりせばさめざらましを」“Yume to Shiriseba V” – Ono-no-Komachi
I wonder if he appeared in my dream because I fell asleep thinking of him.
I think the message of Kimi no Na wa is the exploration of adolescence and the bonds we share– whether made organically with friends – or spiritually like Taki and Mitsuha.
I want to take a different route in this article though, and explore the Shinto significance of their bond.
To begin, I want to establish the fact that the events in Kimi no Na wa do take place three years after Mitsuha’s death.
By going to the mouth of the god, journeying to the “underworld”, and drinking the kuchikamizake – Taki actually brought Mitsuha’s timeline back.
If you remember, the “dream sequence” (dream because I’m sure Mitsuha was already dead at that point) the grandmother explains to the girls that they are passing into the underworld to leave half of themselves there, which can be inferred as their souls.
I plan on covering this in later posts, but in Japan sake is believed to have its own spirit. A spirit that has the power to either help the user or harm the user.
One example that comes to mind is the character Gin from Mushishi.
Kononagare [ 光の流れ], or “the river of light” was a golden, glistening river of mushi connected throughout the known world.
The “kouki” or “breath” of this mushi gave life to forests, mountains, and even ‘spirited away’ humans who lost themselves should they indulge in the intoxicating nectar.
Another that comes to mind is the tale of Orochi from the video game, Ōkami. I’ve spoken about this game once before in my article about Madara from Natsume Yuujinchou, but it still holds relevant in this context.
A tale of Japanese mythology in its finest, Ōkami tells the tale of Amaratsu, or “Ammy” for short.
The sun goddess is reincarnated into a wolf statue and called forth during a time of great turmoil. One hundred years prior to the story, a legendary warrior by the name of Nagi used a special golden sake to intoxicate and kill Orochi.
The 8 Purification Sake rendered the demon weak, and allowed for its own exorcism.
Now, let’s take a look at how the folklore and mythology of sake in shintoism relates to Kimi no Na wa, and the Miyamizu priestess clan.
“In exchange for returning to this world, you must leave behind what is most important to you.”
When Taki is presented with crossing the river, the younger sister Yotsuha gleefully crossed the threshold to Kakuriyo [隠り世], the underworld. It is worth mentioning that the location of the shrine is in the middle of a crater.
A place of death where Comet Tiamat struck last.
Grandmother notices that Mitsuha is “dreaming” and Taki wakes up and sees he can no longer contact Mitsuha. This could be a sign that the timelines have already began to ‘merge off’, the only connection being the kuchikamizake.
In the cave of the underworld, Taki sees Mitsuha’s life flash before his eyes.
During the Shinto ceremonies that Mitsuha felt were embarrassing, the sisters performed a ritual to make sake. Using their own saliva and chewing rice, they left a “part” of themselves behind in the cave to be called upon should disaster strike.
Rivers, streams, and really any body of water serve as purification. Rice is grown in water, and sake is made by distilling and fermenting this product of the earth.
Let’s take a look at Mitsuha and Taki meeting on the mountain, the crater of the past catastrophe, and the ritual.
Mitsuha and Taki meet at Kataware-doki, Tasogare – Twilight; when the sun is setting.
There are historical associations within religions that twilight or dusk brings about differences to the earth – it allows being that cannot exist in light fruition. Think of it as a ‘witching hour’, where supernatural activity is more common for a period of time.
They are able to meet in the darkness because it’s a reset.
They’ve swapped and we’re in Mitsuha’s timeline – years prior.
That’s why Mitsuha in Taki’s body does not leave the edge of the God’s crater, until they switch again. She is not of the world they met in, and only after the switch Mitsuha is permitted mobility in her realm, her universe, her time line, her world.
Again – Taki lost consciousness in the god’s mouth, so he would not wake up back in his timeline if he drank the Musubi [a term for soul, or a bond].
The switch was able to happen between the two due to Mitsuha’s miko bloodline, and their brief encounter on a train in Tokyo – where she gives Taki the “red string of fate” cordage that he holds onto while seeing Mitsuha’s memories in the cave.
“In my next life bring me back as a handsome boy who lives in Tokyo”
As previously mentioned, the high school girl completed a centuries old ritual to leave half of her soul in the God’s Mouth cave. The Great Fire of Mayugoro destroyed any documents relating to the ceremony’s purpose, but its form lived on.
“So the purpose of our festivals became unknown, and only the form lived on. But even if words are lost, tradition should be handed down. That’s the important task we at Miyamizu shrine have.”
The Miyamizu women possessed the ability to merge with another soul, due to the ancient ceremony. This is why Grandma Hitoha accounts “strange happenings” in her youth, and Yotsuha referred to Mitsuha as needing an exorcism when she was “acting funny”.
“Oh, you’re not Mitsuha?”
“You knew, Grandma?”
“No, but watching the way you behaved lately triggered some memories. I also remember seeing strange dreams when I was a young girl. Although I’ve forgotten now whose life I was dreaming about….treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up…There were times your mother and I had similar experiences.”
“Maybe those dreams that the Miyamizu people had were all for what would happen today.”
To which Granny Hitoha decides whoever is in her granddaughters body is insane and dismisses the conversation. Which is actual hilarious in the context that she accepts the possession, but does not accept the theory behind the act itself.
“The braids represent the flow of time itself…Musubi- knotting of time”
The Braided Cords of Itomori may have aided the Miyamizu women in this ability.
In addition to the kuchikamezake ritual, the shrine maidens learned how to weave Kumihimo [組み紐] braids.
As mentioned earlier, during her visit to Tokyo Mitsuha gives Taki one such cord. I’m sure we are all familiar with the East Asian “Red String of Fate” tale in popular media, so I don’t need to recap that in correlation to the girl’s red weaved hairband.
There are a plethora of spiritual gems in this film, but for now I will leave it here.
I came across a theory stating that one of the characters from Garden of Words appears in this story, so I would like to investigate Shinkai’s works and confirm any connection for myself.
So, what do you think the story of Kimi no Na wa was really about?
Do you think it could be based on real-life events that are not public knowledge?
Leave your own Kimi no Na wa theories in the comment section below, I’d love to read them! Also be sure to follow us for more Shinto analysis in films!
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If you’re interested in reading more about this story, consider purchasing the official Your Name Light Novel in English by Shinkai Makoto.