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 Kami (神) Reference Guide

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Sumire

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Surname Name: Sumire Kyokan
Courtesy Name: Sumi
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PostSubject: Kami (神) Reference Guide   Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:01 pm

Kami (神?) are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto. They are elements in nature, animals, creationary forces in the universe, as well as spirits of the revered deceased. Many Kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans, and some ancestors became Kami upon their death if they were able to embody the values and virtues of Kami in life. Traditionally great or charismatic leaders like the Emperor could be kami.In Shinto, Kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of Musubi (結び),the interconnecting energy of the universe, and are considered exemplary of what humanity should strive towards. Kami are believed to be “hidden” from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own, shinkai (the world of the Kami).To be in harmony with the awe inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of Kannagara [the way of the Kami] (随神の道 or 惟神の道).Though the word Kami is translated in multiple ways, no one definition expresses its full meaning. In this way, the ambiguity of the meaning of Kami is necessary, as it conveys the ambiguous nature of Kami themselves. As Shinto is an inclusive religion, Kami has been expanded to include Buddhas and the Judeo-Christian God.

Kami is the Japanese word for a god, deity, divinity, or spirit(精神). It has been used to describe "mind"(心霊),"God" (ゴッド),"supreme being"(至上者),"one of the Shinto deities", an effigy, a principle and anything that is worshiped. Though "god" or "deity" is the common interpretation of Kami, some Shinto scholars argue that such a translation can cause a misunderstanding of the term.  The wide variety of usage of the word can be compared to the Sanskrit Deva and the Hebrew Elohim, which also refer to God, gods, angels or spirits.

In some instances, such as Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto, Kami are personified deities, similar to the gods of ancient Greece or Rome. In other cases, such as those concerning the phenomenon of natural emanation, Kami are the spirits dwelling in trees, or forces of nature.

Because Japanese does not normally distinguish grammatical number in nouns, it is sometimes unclear whether Kami refers to a single or multiple entities. When a singular concept is needed, "-kami" (神?) or "-kamisama" (神様?) is used as a suffix.  The term generally used to refer to multiple Kami is Kamigami.

Gender is also not implied in the word Kami, and as such it can be used to reference either male or female. The word "megami" (女神?), the use of female Kami is a fairly new tradition.

In the ancient Shinto traditions there were 5 defining characteristics of Kami.

   Kami are of two minds. They can nurture and love when respected, or they can cause destruction and disharmony when disregarded. Kami must be appeased in order to gain their favor and avoid their wrath. Traditionally, Kami possess two souls, one gentle (nigi-mitama) and the other assertive (ara-mitama); additionally in Yamakage Shinto kami have two additional souls that are hidden, one happy (sachi-mitama) and one mysterious (kushi-mitama).
   Kami are not visible to the human realm. Instead they inhabit sacred places, natural phenomena or people during rituals that ask for their blessing.
   They are mobile, visiting their places of worship, of which there can be several, but never staying forever.
   There are many different varieties of Kami. There are 300 different classifications of Kami listed in the Kojiki, and they all have different functions, such as the Kami of wind, Kami of entryways, and Kami of roads.
   Lastly, all Kami have a different guardianship or duty to the people around them. Just as the people have an obligation to keep the Kami happy, the Kami have to perform the specific function of the object, place, or idea they inhabit.

Ame no Minakanushi no Kami , Kamimusubi no Kami and Takamimusubi no Kami are collectively called " Zoka-sanshin " ( three gods of creation ) , who are said to be genderless ' hitorigami ' ( god without gender ) hiding their figures from the world of human beings .


Musubi,  in the Shintō religion of Japan, the power of becoming or creation. A number of deities are associated with musubi. In the accounts of the creation of heaven and earth in the Kojiki (“Records of Ancient Matters”), the three deities first named are Takami-musubi no Kami (“Exalted Musubi Deity”), who is later related to the gods of the heaven; Kami-musubi no Kami (“Sacred Musubi Deity”), related to the gods of the earth; and Ame no Minaka-nushi no Kami (“Heavenly Centre-Ruling Deity”). Some Shintō scholars hold that all Shintō deities are manifestations of Ame no Minaka-nushi no Kami.
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