The name can be translated literally as "the month when there are no gods". In Shinto tradition it was said that the eight million gods of Japan left their shrines and congregated annually at Izumo Taisha. There the month was known as Kamiarizuki (神在月?), "the month when the gods are present".
Until 1873 the tenth month of the lunar calendar largely overlapped with the modern month of November. However, after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in Japan in that year October became generally accepted as the "godless month".