It is hard for a God stuck in the underworld (Yomi) to make his way back up. The threat is not just from the Ayakashis. Consumed by her loneliness, the barbarous queen of the underworld, Izanami, prevents anyone who came to meet her from returning. So when Yato and Bishamonten are caught in the clutches (or hair strands) of an enraged Izanami, it’s Amaterasu, the Sun God, who gives Kofuku and the others the idea of soul summoning. Soul summoning involves a mortal calling out someone’s true name to bring them back from Yomi.
The soul summoning works for Bishamonten (because Bishamonten was her real name, among many others), but when Hiyori calls out ‘Yato’ thinking it to be his true name, it does not work. That’s when everyone realises that Yato has been hiding his real name from everyone.
However, Hiyori does manage to figure out Yato’s real name is ‘Yaboku’, and there is still some confusion as to how she came up with it.
How did Hiyori figure out Yato’s real name?
Hiyori’s sudden “Eureka” moment seems kind of random when you read the manga/see Noragami for the first time. However, from the beginning of the series, Yato’s real name has been right in front of us.
Yato’s name on his shrine is spelt in Japanese as ‘夜卜’, a combination of the kanji ya (夜 night) and boku (卜 divination). Sakura, Yato’s earlier shinki, read this name wrongly, interpreting the first part of his name ‘夜‘ as the chinese character ‘Ya’ and second part of his name ‘卜’ as the katakana ‘to’. The kana (as in katakana) can itself mean borrowed name, which is the author Adachitoka’s way of letting the readers and anime viewers know that the name Yato is not his true name.
In reality, Yato’s second character, which is the katakana for ‘to’ is actually a Chinese character (kanji) which is pronounced ‘boku’ on reading. So when read together, his real name becomes ‘Yaboku‘.
Fortunately, Hiyori had a good understanding of Kanji, unlike Yato’s earlier shinki Sakura, and was able to figure out Yato’s real name as Yaboku, from the engraving on his shrine. As Hiyori believed, she had spelt his name correctly on his shrine. It was only a small reading error which made Yaboku become Yato. The word Yaboku means the ‘night diviner’. Hiyori’s presence of mind should not go unnoticed, as she was able to connect the dots and come up with his real name pretty quickly in a difficult situation.
So, after figuring out Yato’s real name, she calls him by the name Yaboku and saves him from the clutches of Izanagi and the underground (Yomi).
Yato has been letting his friends and followers believe that ‘Yato’ was his real name. He feared that they will hate him and leave him if they know about his real name and his past.