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question for fluent japanese speaker

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question for fluent japanese speaker

Post by Shin » Nov 11th, '06, 06:07

hi, i wanted to know about the word "heaven" in japanese. I did a search and i got a couple of different translations.

I found "Tengoku"
[img]http://japanese.about.com/library/weekl ... engoku.jpg[/img]

and sometimes just plain "Ten"

what is the difference between these two?


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Post by YOORIN » Nov 11th, '06, 07:57

actually, there's no difference... japanese language is somewhat confusing coz just like the word HEAVEN it has 2 words like tengoku and plain ten... it just differ according to use but the meaning will still be the same..

hope it helps!! :lol

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Post by Prince of Moles » Nov 28th, '06, 08:04

On a different note, if you're looking to use the word Heaven in the Christian sense of the term, the place you go after you die, you might as well just say Hebun or Hevun.

In Shinto when people die, there is no Heaven nor Hell. There is only the underworld: Yomi no kuni.

In Buddhism there was no Heaven or Hell initially. You just got reincarnated after you died, or if you're lucky you went to Nirvana. Later they added a Heaven and a Hell (but they are not places where you go for all of eternity, you just spend a loooong time there before your karmic duties are satisfied). In that worldview, there certainly was a Hell. As for Heaven, the closest was probably the Pure Land: Jodo.

So what is Ten or Tengoku? It is the realm of the gods.

In the Japanese reading of the character, it becomes Ama. A word that has a meaning that is a lot closer to outer space and the stars up above us. Thus Ama no kuni would be the country in the sky, the realm to which the Japanese gods is said to have retreated after creating the world.

Reading the characters in Chinese fasion, Tengoku, you get the same result. Ten in classical Chinese referred to the sky. And later to the ordering principle behind the universe. Thus Tengoku, or literally the sky country, would refer to the realm in which the various Chinese gods lived. (In ancient China people believed that they had 2 souls, one which sank under the earth and another which flew up towards the sky after a person's death.)

Thus Tengoku is not a place where you go after you die! Most people in Japan or in China do not become gods after they die.

Today in Japan, to translate the Christian concept of Heaven, people are using the Japanese term Tengoku. After all the place where God and Jesus resides, Heaven, is close enough to the realm in which the Japanese or Chinese gods live. So when Japense moms tell their kids that their grandparents went to Tengoku, they're really unconsciously adopting a Christian worldview, tricked by the familiarity of the word Tengoku.

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Post by 8thSin » Nov 28th, '06, 16:55

^ Interesting read...

"Tengoku" and "Ten" are both heaven, but are in different contexts... It sounds weird when you use the wrong one.

"Tengoku" is more common than "Ten" when you say "Heaven" in western sense. Saying "Ten" would confuse most people if you use it to describe heaven as a place.
You MUST to use "tengoku" when saying things like: "This is heaven." "I think heaven exists." "Heaven's entrance" etc...

"Ten" is probably broader than just "tengoku". Obviously, it also means "sky", which is where most people thinks gods reside.
It's also used to mean "divine" or "god's"
天の裁き ---> Judgement of Heaven (god) 
天の意思---> Heaven's will (divine intervention)

You don't necessarily have to believe in God and Heaven to say "Ten".
"He went to Heaven" 空(天)に行った ---> He went to a better place (He passed away)

but when talking to kids, usually it's "Tengoku"
"Mommy went to Heaven"

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