Have you ever watched Death note? Are you fascinated by its mysterious and invisible creatures? Do you believe that shinigami are the gods of death in real Japanese culture?
The shinigami is a god of death in Japanese mythology and culture. He plays the role of a soul companion who transports people’s souls from the world of the living here on earth to the world of the dead, which remains mysterious and unknown to mortals.
We are pleased to welcome you to Skull Action to help you discover the secrets of the shinigami; we will answer all the questions you may have about the Japanese gods of death, and if we forget one, remind us in the commentary. 😉
At the end of this article, you will better understand the following things:
- Who are the shinigami?
- What is their origin within Japanese mythology?
- What is the representation of shinigami in Japanese popular culture?
Human has always been fascinated by death and supernarutal world. What happens after we die? is there a place where we can find our people again? There is an infinity of questions and beliefs about what happens after death. All human beings, regardless of their times, cultures, religions, and opinions, are intrigued by doom. Japan is no exception. Let’s discover this legend together.
Do you know the Shinigamis?
Like all languages, the words invented by man are a series of combinations. In Japanese, the term "shi" means death, and the word "kami" means god. There are gods for everything in this polytheistic culture. The shinigamis are the gods responsible for passing. Multiple gods and godesses are also considered as kamis.
The shinigamis, unlike the soul reaper in the western world, invite mortals to die. Some shinigamis have several roles, i.e., they fulfill two different divine missions: Isanagi's wife Izanami, both a goddess creator of life and death.
In Japanese culture, everything has a spirit, energy, even soulless objects. Japanese ancient mythology is rich in divinity, Kamis (gods) for the sky, the sea, rivers, and death.
What is a Shinigami alike?
It's very complicated to say what the shinigamis look like because those who see them are often asked to leave life and never come back. Moreover, the gods are so powerful that they can take different forms, so a person may see a shinigami without knowing that he is one.
Contrary to the western culture; The angel of death has a large skeleton with a black cape and a large mower to reap the souls and send them to the afterlife; Shinigamis do not have precise forms. They can adopt the appearance they want.
Artists generally draw them according to their minds’ imagination, which does not look like earthly creatures, with a body that varies from one craftsman to another. Shinigamis are often depicted as beings who can fly and who can write in death books.
They have wings, something we can also observe in the Christian religion and its representation of angels; these wings are used to fly when needed.
The shinigamis are either male or female beings; it is almost impossible to make the distinction. They cannot (unfortunately for them 😜) have sexual relations with each other or worse with human beings. Strangely, they are endowed with emotions and can have feelings towards humans.
What is the role of a Shinigami?
The Shinigami’s role is to follow a human being’s life and verify that it ends at the expected time; death’s circumstances may vary. Still, one thing is sure; the Shinigami invites the living to leave life when its time comes; this way of doing is contrary to the image we in the West have of the angel of death.
Death is not something we should fear, according to the Shintoists. In many burial ceremonies worldwide, songs and dances are performed to honor the deceased’s memory. The god of death is only there to allow something familiar to happen, i.e., to die, you can see it as destiny.
The Root Of Shinigamis In History
Japan is known for its diversity in terms of legends and mythology. When the country came into full contact with Western culture, some of its beliefs were modified in its representation.
One example is Shinigami; the source of this word comes from the Shintoist religious tradition; the population then attributed this deity to the position of reaper or angel of death.
No one knows precisely how this new image of the shinigami came to be integrated, nor when it happened. Like all good legends, it was told from ancestor to youth to perpetuate the culture and give meaning to life.
Death was not a bad thing in the ancient Japanese empire; on the contrary, it is a process of life itself. People felt reassured to know that their loved ones would be accompanied by gods in the land of the dead. Hence the notion of Shinigami that invites death and does not impose it.
In any case, no one is sure of the exact date of the origin of the Shinigami, but this legend allowed people to live life to the fullest because death is not an end.
No one can thwart the plans of the Shinigami.
We will tell you a story about a man who wanted to commit suicide, and he came face to face with a Shinigami.
This man was fed up with life, many problems, and nothing was going right; it was natural for him to think about committing suicide because he lost interest in staying alive. It was at the moment when he was about to commit the irreparable that he saw a Shinigami appear, the latter informing him that it was not yet time to die.
He explained to him that his flame of life still burns like a flame on a lit candle. The god of death revealed a secret with a magic formula; he confided to him the secret of eternal wealth by keeping away death’s spirits.
The man began to pretend to be a doctor; he would meet dying patients to recite his incantation and ward off the gods of death to save these patients’ lives. This technique only works if the Shinigami is sitting at the foot of the patient's bed.
One day, to save a wealthy family member, he wanted to trick a god of death by turning the patient's bed over to receive a nice sum of money. It was a fatal mistake that cost him his life because he burned the rest of his candle and died instantly with this gesture ☠️.
The weapon of the Shinigami (death note)
In Western culture, gods are often immortal; in Japanese mythology, it is quite different because everything rests on a fair balance of nature even in the beyond.
According to legend, the Shinigamis use the years of human life to add them to their own; thus, they become immortal, provided they continue to carry out their missions. To do this, they have a power and a very complementary tool. Eyes allow them to see the name and the remaining life span of the human being.
The death notes are specific to each Shinigami; if one finds a second notebook, he must give it to the Shinigami King. If the notebook is lost in the human world, he must go down and wait for the one who retrieved it to die.
The person who finds a death notebook and touches it will see the Shinigamis in their proper form. Still, the Shinigami cannot physically attack them because nothing material can reach a god of death.
What does the legend say about Shinigamis nowadays?
Even though Japan’s nation is very secular and free in its beliefs, many Japanese still belong to the Shintoist religion; even though these clerics do not literally believe in Shinigami, they like to honor their traditions like any Japanese.
You don't believe in Santa Claus, yet you like to dress in red and celebrate Christmas. That's how it is for our friends in the land of the rising sun.
We find the trace of the Shinigamis mainly in the anime series. Indeed these cartoons have seduced the whole world and are an integral part of the modern Japanese culture.
Shinigamis are the main subject of the anime Death Note, where a brilliant young student discovers a death note lost by a Shinigami. He finds his power and wishes to change the world and shape it in his way. Or Bleach anime, where the Shinigamis are portrayed as samurai who bring order to the world after death, as a kind of police of the world beyond.
These animes have contributed to the propagation of the legend of the Shinigamis. Japanese gods have seduced the West and will draw it again. The Japanese still have the power to amaze us with their culture and their legends.
Shinigami in Anime and Manga
Nowadays legends are no longer told by word of mouth; they are perpetuated on our screens. Shinigamis appear most often in Japanese anime and manga series; they often play the role of a god of death who comes to an end a character's life before his time is up.
Unless you are a fan, we are going to make you discover the names of the three most famous japanese manga that quote Shinigamis:
- The first is Death Note: the shinigamis are an integral part of this anime and hold the main characters, they are represented by floating and scary creatures who write the names of human beings in their death notebooks.
- The second one is Bleach: the shinigamis are represented as Samurai who have the mission to maintain order in the beyond.
The third is Naruto: The god of death was invoked by Sarutobi, a Hokage from the ninja village of Konoha, he has the power to seal the souls of the one who catches him but in return, he takes the soul of the person who invoked him.
Would you like to worship a god of death in your manner?
In this article, we have seen together the different legends around the Japanese gods of death; these mythical creatures have no more secrets for you. You can hold a debate quickly and even summon a Shinigami , especially if you are a fan of Japanese culture.
If you too are fascinated by the gods of death, if you want to define your fate, we invite you to discover this beautiful leather jacket grim reaper by clicking on the following image .