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No, this is not about any Buddhist chant or mantra that can be used to call forth Japanese gods or heavenly spirits, but rather about any specialized words or interjections that attract attention of the God/spirits that we want to communicate with. Similar to the following equivalent interjections in some languages I know:

English: 'O'
e.g: O The Great God

Arabic: 'يا' (pronunciation: Ya)
e.g: ياربي

Malay/Indonesian: 'Wahai'
e.g: Wahai Tuhanku

Does Japanese have such words/interjections? Even though 神様へ might be serving the purpose, へ lacks the glorification that 'O' has. Note that 'O', 'يا' and 'Wahai' are not restricted to God/spirits/heavenly beings only since they can also be used towards people, for example in a sermon, so the Japanese equivalent(s) must also have to have similar scope in order to qualify.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It sounds like you are looking for the vocative case particle in Japanese.

Taken from wikipedia's article on vocative case:

In archaic Japanese, or when written as verse, a particle and may be affixed.

少年、大志を抱け (Boys, be ambitious, quote by William S. Clark)

、汝の誉れはその御名のごとく (O God, Thy praise is according to Thine name, from Bach's cantata)

じいさま、山さ雨は降っただけ (Old man, was it raining on the mountain?)

The article however notes that this is archaic, and usually vocative case in Japanese is formed with null morpheme, i.e. without any specific particle.

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1  
+1: @Lukman's description sounds a lot more like vocative than anything god-related ;-) That being said, I don't think there is one in modern Japanese... –  Dave Sep 22 '11 at 9:13
    
Archaic or not, those work for me. I'm not sure if 'archaic' is the suitable term here, I'd prefer to call it 'ceremonial' or 'poetic', i.e. not for casual daily usage, just like the the Arabic/Malay ones (not sure about English but I assume it's the same). –  Lukman Sep 22 '11 at 10:37
7  
Another reference: The 1955 Japanese version of the Bible, which is what you'll find in most Christian churches in Japan, uses よ a lot. Psalm 8:1 reads 主、われらの主 、あなたの名は地にあまねく、いかに尊いことでしょう。 "O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth [...]" (NASB). –  Derek Schaab Sep 22 '11 at 12:33
    
Note, though, that よ isn't used this way in older Shinto rituals. The nearest thing might be set formulae like "X の前に申さく" and "畏み畏みも白す" but these are not for getting attention, rather for defining your (humble) position w/r/t the forces being addressed. –  Matt Sep 22 '11 at 22:02
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I'm guessing "ああっ女神さまっ" doesn't count. (笑) –  rdb Sep 23 '11 at 2:27

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