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Onmyōdō (meaning "the Way of Yin and Yang") is Japanese-style spell-casting. Methods range from Yin/Yang, the Five Elements, shikigami, and divination to ofuda and alchemy. Onmyōdō, like many Real World magical belief systems, is an eclectic blend; while it can be treated as simple rule magic, it also has elements of force magic and theurgy.

The various arts and practices of onmyōdō gradually, over the centuries, became absorbed into Shinto and Buddhism and also into the disciplines of other ascetic traditions such as Shugenja. Thus, in many anime and manga works, miko (shrine maidens) are shown as capable of summoning and controlling shikigami.

A practitioner of onmyōdō is called an onmyōji. Traditionally, the only ones able to legally practice onmyōdō were appointed by the Imperial government, and were in fact, civil servants of the Bureau of Onmyō. During the Heian period, onmyōji had quite a bit of political clout, but when the imperial court fell into decline, their status as civil servants was lost. Their original responsibilities included keeping track of the calendar, divination, and protection of the capital from evil spirits. They also watched for auspicious and/or harmful influences in the earth (earthquake detection).

The most famous onmyōji is Abe no Seimei, a figure roughly analogous to the Merlin of Arthurian Legend. Like Merlin, it is said that he was not entirely human, but the offspring of a nobleman and a female Kitsune deity. Abe no Seimei is a documented historical personage who lived from about 921 CE to around 1005 CE, the middle of the Heian Period. A shrine dedicated to him was built in Kyoto soon after his death, and still exists today. His descendants, the Tsuchimikado clan, were responsible for managing the Bureau of Onmyō for most of its existence.

Related concepts:

  • Gobosei (pentagram): In Japanese culture, this is a symbol of magical power, a diagram of the "overcoming cycle" of the five Chinese elements (Wu Xing). A five-pointed star variant (leaving out the outside pentagon) is known as a Seiman, the personal crest of Abe no Seimei.
  • Ofuda: In modern Japanese literature, ofuda are always rectangles of paper with holy or magical symbols/spells written on them. They may be used to create a protective ward, seal a building, dispel evil influences, or even as a weapon against those of malign intent.
  • Shikigami: Shikigami are spirits called forth to act as servants for the summoner, similar to a familiar in Western mythology. "Shiki", as they are sometimes known, literally means "equation", "formula" or "style" - a shikigami usually isn't bargained with so much as pulled from the aether and given exact commands to govern its behaviour akin to programming, with a misplaced command or drop in power causing it to go berserk and turn on its creator.
    It's also worth noting that the name can be heard two ways - one is the "equation spirit" so described. The other meaning? Fierce Death God - the sort of deities that are usually charged with ensuring the death of humans, either at their appointed time or otherwise. Expect a lot of onmyōdō-rich works to play with this.
  • Kuji-In and Kuji-kiri:The Nine Syllable Seals and the Nine Symbolic Cuts are also among Onmyōdō techniques, though they were never unique to Onmyōdō.
  • Eastern Zodiac: One of the divination means onmyōji employed. During the Heian era, onmyōji were also responsible for making calendars. note  As part of that system, The Four Gods were thus also incorporated into onmyōdō.
  • Feng Shui: Another Chinese influence amalgamated into onmyōdō.
  • Twelve Heavenly Commanders: A group of shikigami attributed to Abe no Seimei, sometimes referred to as the Twelve Divine Commanders (a title of the protectors of Yakushi Buddha) or the Twelve Devas (another unrelated group of deities), who appear as a popular motif in onmyō-themed works. They consist of, in order:
    1. Tōda (Flying Serpent)
    2. Suzaku (Vermillion Bird)
    3. Rikugō (Cosmos)
    4. Kōchin
    5. Seiryū (Azure Dragon)
    6. Kijin (Aristocrat)
    7. Tenkō (Queen of Heaven)
    8. Daion
    9. Genbu (Black Tortoise)
    10. Taijō (Great Constant)
    11. Byakkō (White Tiger)
    12. Tenkū (Firmament)
  • "Kyu-Kyu Nyo Ritsu Ryo": The Japanese reading of a phrase once appended to Chinese government edicts, translating roughly as "With Most Haste, In Accordance With the Law" - since the government was regarded as an earthly extension of the Celestial Bureaucracy, it became adopted into Taoism as a way to imbue commands with divine authority. In modern depictions it is generally used as a trigger phrase at the end of a Magical Incantation.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ask Dr. Rin! features an onmyoji named Tokiwa Takashi.
  • Sakura Yamazaki from Blue Seed is an onmyoji (translated to "faith healer" in the English subs).
  • Sumeragi Subaru and Sakurazuka Seishirou, from CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon and X1999.
  • Descendants of Darkness involves a considerable amount of onmyodo-style magic, including extensive use of shikigami and o-fuda.
  • In Doomed Megalopolis, an anime based upon Teito Monogatari (in Literature, below), the villain Yasunori Kato is an onmyoji. He is shown with the gobosei on his gloves and hat. His magic often involves hand signs (usually Kuji-kiri) where the gobosei serves to focus/increase his power. At the beginning of the story, Kato contends with Abe no Seimei's descendants (see literature below). Throughout the anime, many onmyodo based and related concepts are illustrated, including Shikigami, Ofuda, and Feng Shui.
  • Abe no Seimei himself and ofuda magic (used by the Octobrist Organisation) also appear in Drifters.
  • Ga-Rei: The Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Department is a modern incarnation of the Heian-era Bureau of the Yin-Yang, training onmyōji — called exorcists in the English localization — to hunt down malevolent yōkai, onryō, and other supernatural creatures — referred to by the English localization as Phantoms.
  • Lin Koujo from Ghost Hunt.
  • Abe no Yasuaki from the game and anime Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is an onmyoji and a disciple of Abe no Seimei.
  • In the Onmyouji OVA series Abe Seimei is female
  • Isumi of Hayate the Combat Butler can do nearly anything related to exorcism via this method. Isumi also enchanted Tama via this method to enable him to become a Talking Animal.
  • It's a very large part of Inuyasha, as pretty much the main form - if not only form - of magic used by humans. Even Big Bad Naraku sends doppelgangers of himself pretty much by the Shikigami method (if you actually manage to beat him, you'll probably be left with a small wooden doll around which the doppelganger was built.)
  • In K, the Gold King came from a family of onmyouji, which is why he was able to control and understand the power-giving Slates more than any of the other characters.
  • This is the form of magic used by Nanami, and by most supernaturally empowered human characters we see, in Kamisama Kiss. Nanami tends to get very creative with her tailsmans, even using one concerning traffic safety to kill a a couple of demonic thugs.
  • Karura Mau! features a family of exorcists and a descendant of Abe no Semei himself.
  • The Kekkaishi have shades of this; they have Ofuda which they use to summon Shikigami, when they need to do things such as clean up the mess they make when they fight to sustain the Masquerade.
  • The spells used by Konohana wa Otome of Lapis Re:LiGHTs are heavily inspired by this. They hail from Yamato, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan in all but name, and use several elements like Tsubaki storing her bow in a Paper Talisman when not in use, Kaede being a Paper Master when fighting with her shikigami paper puppets, and also Kaede's skill and obsession with divination and fortune-telling.
  • Laughing Under the Clouds:
    • Ashiya Mutsuki is a practicing onmyoji, complete with shikigami, paper dolls and various techniques. It's a family tradition, and his ancestor Ashiya Mangetsu is shown to have been formidable as well.
    • Descendants of Abe no Seimei also seem to still be practicing onmyodo, and employ the gobosei (pentagram) as their family crest, but the only important character of that line, Abe no Sosei, has chosen the sword instead.
  • The protagonist of Gainax's Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is drawn to a parallel world where he learns the the art of onmyodo from Abe no Seimei.
    • Not to mention the events of the anime only happened because Abe no Seimei tried to save his best friend and love interest after they both died due to a love triangle. He remade the world into our world, but when he realized events were about to repeat, he just left, presumably returning to his own world
  • Ken Akamatsu's Negima! Magister Negi Magi features onmyoji as well as Western mages.
  • Abe no Seimei himself shows up in New Getter Robo as an antagonist of the Getter Team in the latter half of the series. Apparently, in a straight up battle, Onmyodo > Getter Rays.
  • Keikain Yura of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan come from a onmyouji family specialising in shikigami and hunting youkai.
  • Abe no Seimei appears as a villain in Oniwakamaru the Visitor, by Tetsuya Saruwatari.
  • The anime and manga Onmyou Taisenki revolves almost completely around onmyodo.
  • Otogi Zoshi includes a lot of onmyodo complete with Abe no Seimei.
  • Rei Hino/Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon can use this whether transformed or not due to being a Miko, and in particular chooses ofuda to expel demons with "Evil spirits, disperse!" ("Akuryo Taisan!")
  • Parodied on Sgt. Frog when Highly-Visible Ninja Koyuki is suddenly able to use onmyodo to unseal a cursed dungeon. She's not very good at it, though, and by the end of the episode, all of the Keronians have gotten accidentally possessed.
  • In Shaman King, onmyoji are high-level shamans; most notably, series Big Bad Hao Asakura is an onmyoji (and may in fact be partially inspired by Abe no Seimei).
    • Yasuaki's expy Abe no Yasutsugu from Haruka 2 and Kajiwara Kagetoki from Haruka 3 also use onmyodo, though Kagetoki ditches the more traditional Magical Gesture methods in favour of a gun-like thing that produces Instant Runes.
  • Yamigumo Nami of Silent Möbius uses Onmyodo as her form of fighting magic as a Miko.
  • Nakahito in Steel Angel Kurumi is an aspiring onmyoji, hoping to one day be as good as his older brother. His latent power is given as the reason for his being able to activate Kurumi in the first episode.
  • Twin Star Exorcists centers around onmyodo, featuring ofuda, shikigami, and the Twelve Heavenly Commanders which is the group of top onmyoji that host the shikigami of Abe no Seimei.
  • The Kohamei sect from Ushio and Tora is buddhist, but most of his monster-hunting members (including the Four Candidates for the Beast Spear) are well-versed in Onmyodou in order to fight the Youkai. The best example would be Satoru, the strongest candidate, who dresses like an Onmyoji and can summon Shikigami in the form of gigantic insects/spiders in order to fight.
  • Magical Suite Prism Nana features a German shrine maiden who knows Onmyoji. On the shoulder area of her school uniform lie gobosei on each side respectively.

    Fan Works 

  • The films Onmyōji (2001) (I & II) are a fictitious account of Abe no Seimei based on the novel series of the same name (which also inspired a manga adaptation, also of the same name).
  • The films Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis and Tokyo: The Last War are adaptations of the novel Teito Monogatari (see Literature below).

    Light Novels 
  • Tsuchimikado Motoharu of A Certain Magical Index is a highly-skilled onmyoji, and is even descended from a famous clan of them. However, having undergone the Power Development Curriculum, using these abilities causes a backlash in his body, and is potentially fatal for him. Luckily, his ability, Level 0 Auto-Rebirth, allows him to bypass this for a limited number of times.
  • Shōnen Onmyōji chronicles the life of Abe no Seimei's youngest grandson and his journey in becoming an onmyouji. There is also an anime adaptation.
  • Tokyo Ravens is set in a world where Japan reactivated the Onmyo Bureau back in World War 2, with the entire cast being onmyoji, shikigami or both. Apart from featuring just about every traditional depiction of onmyodo, Magitek is available such as mass-produced Ofuda, robotic shikigami, and even ofuda missile pods.

  • Apparently, Nezumi in, Broken Gate, is an omnyouji, the which is implied in the fact that she's sealed away something powerful behind a gate and has to reinforce those seals, along with placing a curse on her older brother.
  • The villain in the Sandman story The Dream Hunters is an onmyoji.
  • Natsuhiko Kyogoku's Kyogokudo mystery novels, which started being being published in 1994, are also major contributors to the boom. The protagonist of the series, Chuzenji Kyogokudo, is a bookstore owner who functions on the side as a part time onmyoji. The first volume of the series was translated in English as The Summer of Ubume.
  • Baku Yumemakura's Onmyoji novels, first published in 1988 (in the wake of Teito Monogatari's success), brought the popularity of onmyoji to new heights.
  • In the 1985 bestselling novel Teito Monogatari written by occult specialist Hiroshi Aramata, the protagonist Yasunori Kato is a master onmyoji. The first part of the novel revolves around a battle between his forces and the Tsuchimikado Family. The Tsuchimikado Family is descended from the clan of Abe no Seimei and its leader, Yasumasa Hirai, is the direct descendant of Seimei. Yasunori Kato also claims to be a descendant of Abe no Seimei (his first name, Yasunori, is derived from Seimei's teacher, Kamo no Yasunori) but is branded a heretic and a demon for going against the Japanese Empire. The bestselling, award winning occult novel is widely considered the first modern fantasy work to ignite popular interest in onmyodo mysticism in the Japanese media.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Anima: Beyond Fantasy sourcebook Arcana Exxet features several alternate theories of magic, allowing for alternate means of spellcasting. Among such options as Shamanism and Voudon, being an Onmyoji is an option. They create Ofuda in order to store their spells in advance, which allows for faster spellcasting that usual.
  • The "Sealmaster Meisei" monster in Yu-Gi-Oh! is an onmyoji.

    Video Games 
  • Ayakashi: Romance Reborn features Ayakashi (yokai) and Onmyodo. The MC is an onmyoji herself, and same goes for her past life self.
    • And the same goes for her twin brother in her past life.
    • Akiyasu is an experienced onmyoji who befriends you very quickly in Dawn Book I. Come the end of Book I, his true nature is revealed. It becomes worse in Aoi's route in Dawn Book II.
    • Yura's route introduces Doman Ashiya, the onmyoji who cast a hex on Gaku a millennium ago that Yura took on himself. He has managed to keep himself well alive throughout all those years to come back and taunt the MC and Yura. Currently he has claimed a body made of clay.
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Onmyo Monk is an unlockable class, and they have various skills related to the Item World.
  • Dragalia Lost has the man himself appear with the name reduced down to Seimei for Western audiences, introduced as part of the "Cursed Connections" event. He's the leader of the Hinomoto (the Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Japan) Ox Clan, one of the 12 shoguns that represent the Eastern Zodiac, and soulpacted to the dragon Gozu Tenno which shortens his life.
  • Onmyoji appear as recruitable leaders of Jomon (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Japan) in the Dominions series. They are typically strong in Astral magic and always appear with one summoned shikigami in battle.
  • Appropriately for a Taoist mystic, Zuo Ce of Dynasty Warriors uses paper talismen (and, like Kanetsugu, his are also capable of shooting lasers).
  • Keiya Tenpouin from the Evil Zone.
  • In the first Fatal Frame, talismans can often be founding sealing doors. Getting rid of them requires going to a certain place and photographing a spirit, causing the talisman to burn and the door to be unlocked. A similar mechanic is found with voodoo dolls in the third game. (The second game just went ahead and had invisible "ghostly power" sealing the doors.)
  • Fate/Grand Order has Murasaki Shikibu of The Tale of Genji fame as a secret onmyōdō practitioner taught by Abe no Seimei himself, which she primarily uses in her magic writing.
    • Abe-no-Seimei's rival Ashiya Douman is a major antagonist in the Cosmos of the Lostbelt arc. The Heian-Kyo chapter, where Douman is the primary antagonist, is set at the height of the onmyōji's power, so other onmyōji are mentioned in the background and Abe-no-Seimei himself gives the protagonists advice from afar.
    • Kiichi Hougen, the shugenja who mentored Ushiwakamaru, is also a master of onmyōdō.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics includes a Job called Onmyoji. This is translated as "Oracle" for the original English release of the game, and retranslated as "Mystic" for the Updated Re Release.
  • Fire Emblem Fates features the "Sage" class being renamed as "Onmyoji", which is a potential promotion for Diviners, Shrine Maidens, and their Spear Counterpart Monks. While the Nohr magic tends to be about the elements and takes the form of books, Hoshidan magic are paper fans (Scrolls, actually) and summon Shikigami from the chinese zodiac to attack. The Shikigami were translated as "Spirits" for the English release. Izana, the Archduke of the Principality of Izumo is one such Onmyoji - who is seen using Divination during the story.
  • Several of the Japanese aircraft carriers from KanColle are designed as onmyouji where their planes are their shikigami: Ryuujou, Hiyou, Jun'you, Unryuu, Amagi, Katsuragi, and Akitsu Maru (with a Buddhist style while the rest follow the Shinto style).
  • Sayo-chan/Pocky from the Kiki Kai Kai/Pocky & Rocky series uses ofuda as ranged weapons.
  • Several characters, including Abe no Seimei, her rival Ashiga Doman and his disciples from Kuon are identified as onmyouji and can use various kinds of magic.
  • Akari Ichijo from The Last Blade is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer example, who uses her gohei as a weapon, can summon a variety of youkai to attack her opponent and uses her shikigami basically to cheat death (whenever she's hit with a finisher, she replaces herself with it). For bonus points, the PlayStation port of the first game has also an alternate version of Akari which is actually a tanuki impersonating her.
  • The Kanna class in MapleStory identifies herself as an onmyoji.
  • Nioh has a variety of characters able to use Onmyo Magic, including certain bosses and hostile Onmyoji. Unlocking abilities in it's skill tree enables the main character William to have access to a very handy repertoire of spells in and out of battle, all of which can easily make him a powerful Magic Knight.
    • The second game also allows the main character Hide to become an Onmyo Magic practitioner; as there are now more spells and skills available plus a new weapon type that scales well with the Magic stat, it's not that uncommon to encounter more than a few players run their Hides as fully-fledged Magic Knights.
  • Some of this makes appearances in Ōkami; notably, ofuda "prayer slips" are used by Rao in the Ghost Ship to dispel powerful curses and destroy ghosts.
  • The mobile RPG Onmyōji (2016) developed by NetEase Games is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • In Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Abe No Seimei is the Big Bad.
  • Abe no Seimei herself appears, mystical powers intact, as a playable character in Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors. Cue pentagrams and shikigami.
  • Chinnen's stage in Power Instinct Matrimelee has onmyoji Yabeno Hikomaro, shrine maiden Kotohime, and three backup monks (referred to only as the Bouzu Dancers) dancing in the background to a surprisingly catchy tune. The song, and the unlockable music video for it, became something of a meme.
  • Kanetsugu Naoe uses onmyodo in Samurai Warriors. His Ofuda shoot Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • Shadow Hearts:
    • One of the main party members in the first game, Zhuzhen Li, is well versed in this. As a Taoist sage his magic takes effect by manipulating the primal forces of yin and yang to create all sorts of phenomena, from spontaneously starting fires, to rejuvenating the body, to raising the dead to conjuring storms.
    • Recurring antagonist Garan the Oracle in the second half of Covenant is explicitly stated to be the "16th in direct succession" of Abe no Seimei. He's shown to be powerful enough to create pocket dimensions where he traps Yuri an Co. and in battle, he's able to skillfully exploit the elemental weaknesses of the playable characters by casting spells on whoever is weak against them.
  • Onmyodo, amongst other magic systems, consistently appears throughout Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It's usually in the form of the One-Hit Kill Holy Hand Grenade Hama spell. Notable users include Abe no Seimei (a descendant with the same name) in Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. The Lonely Marebito and Raidou himself to an extent.
  • Gensokyo is the Clap Your Hands If You Believe mystical setting of the Touhou Project series, where many forms of magic co-exist. The miko Hakurei Reimu and Kochiya Sanae use ofuda and there are some on Fujiwara no Mokou's pants, probably as flame retardant; Reimu also has her smiting Hakurei Ying-Yang Orbs. Rumia is a Youkai with a sealing ofuda in her hair which she can't touch. Patchouli Knowledge prominently uses elemental magic based on Eastern elements (wood, metal, etc.). Yakumo Yukari has a kitsune shikigami named Ran; Ran has her own nekomata shikigami in the form of Chen.
    • Many of Sanae's spellcards are also based off of onmyodo, most notably her pentagram-filled cards in Touhou Fuujinroku ~ Mountain of Faith and her "Nine Syllable Stabs" card in Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism.
    • The Tanuki-woman, Mamizou Futatsuiwa, has a huge number of spells involving paper doll shikigami. They come in human-shaped, dog-shaped, bird-shaped, and frog-shaped varieties. She uses them as bullets, as familiars that shoot bullets themselves, or as both at once. She also has an attack where she summons copies of herself, presumably more shikigami familiiars.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Onmyoudou, Onmyoudo