Good day! This is Miss Fortune here for a nice overview of religious references found in Nioh! I present panels on mythology, folklore, and religion so I’d like to share some things I have observed!
In Japan, the word they use to describe a divinity is a “Kami” however, this word emcompasses more than gods and goddesses, but describes the forces of nature and things held in great esteem. For example, Mt. Fuji itself is considered to be a kami.
List of observations:
Karasu Tengu: A tengu is a mountain kami. They are said to be wise sages who live isolated in the mountains. The Karasu Tengu manigests as a crow wearing the traditional attire of the mountain ascetic. The one in game wields a Shakujo. This ringed staff wielded by Buddhist monks is for the purpose of alerting people of the monk’s arrival as well as scaring small animals away so that monk’s do not step on them.
Koma-inu: These are statues that flank the entrance of Shinto shrines. they act as guardians. One shrine in particular in the mid-game is flanked by Fox statues. This indicates that the shrine is dedicated to the fox-deity Inari, who governs fertility of crops.
Oni: Oni are angry ogre like demons. Their primary responsibility is punishing sinners in Jigoku, or hell. they are often seen wielding great clubs or maces. One famous example is Ibaragi-Doji who was slain by a retainer of Raikoh Minamoto- Watanabe no Tsuna. Another example is Shuten-Doji who led a band of oni against the capital.
Tsuchi-gumo: The tsuchi gumo, or earth spiders, were demons who lived inside Mt. Katsuragi and were defeated again by Raikoh Minamota and his entourage.
Jyoro-Gumo: The whore spider. Her name is also a pun on “the entwining bride” she was illustrated by the famous Yokai artist Toriyama Sekien. She was said to hide underwater and lure men to their deaths.
Jigoku: you will visit the shore of hell multiple times through the game. In Japanese this world is referred to as “Shigan” or the near shore, and the underworld is called “Higan” or the “distant shore.” Notice the red flowers in bloom. These are galled “Higanbana” or “flowers of the distant shore.” In the language of flowers- Hanakotoba- their meaning is “Farewell, we will not meet again.” Notice the towers of stones. These towers were built by the children who died in childbirth or abortion. It is said the evil hell-witch Datsue-Ba tells the children that they can get to heaven. If they build a tower of any significant height, she knocks it over so they must start again. Notice the river- this is called the River of Three Crossings, or “Sanzu.” good people cross over a bridge, people of no note as a shallow fjord, but sinners must cross through a rocky torrent. Datsue-ba again meets them on the other side, strips them naked of their worldly clothes before the cross into the afterlife. If a person was naked when they crossed, she would rip off their skin.
Yuki-Onna: the Snow Lady, said to have pale white skin the color of snow. She would confuse people lost in snow storms so they would wander until they died. If the yuki-onna liked you she would save you if you were lost.
Kodama: if a tree reached a sufficient age, it would gain a kami- these tree spirits are called Kodama.
Wanyuudo: the wheel monk. Said to be the spirit of a wicked man bound to a wheel, it is said he traverses between this world and the next stealing souls. Again- illustrated by toriyama sekien.
Onmyo-Ji. Onmyo is japanese for “Yin-Yang” Onmyo-ji were practiced real life diviners for the court. Most famous of all is the real life Abe-No-Seimei. The symbol of Onmyo is the Seimei-Kikyo-In or the “Seimei Bellflower seal” which is the five pointed star.
Hitogata: The paper dolls you see. These were protective seals for people.
Ema: wooden plaques at Shrines inscribe with wishes.
Torii: A shinto Gate: it demarcated the mundane world from the divine. It marks the entrance to a shrine.
Himurogi: A temporary shrine altar for Shinto rituals.
These are just my first impressions more to come!!