In the poetic commentary Nameless Notes (1211–1216), the poet-priest Kamo no Chōmei explains that unlike prose, a poem “possesses the power to move heaven and earth, to calm demons and gods,” because, among other attributes, “it contains many truths in a single word.”

The supernatural powers of Japanese poetry are widely documented in literature of Heian and medieval Japan. Twentieth-century scholars have tended to follow Orikuchi Shinobu in interpreting and discussing miraculous verses in terms of ancient (pre-Buddhist) beliefs in kotodama, the magic spirit power of special words. In this paper, I argue for application of a more contemporaneous hermeneutical approach: thirteenth-century Japanese dharani theory, according to which Japanese poetry is capable of supernatural effects because it contains truth (kotowari) in a semantic superabundance.