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Well-Known Member
Shinto literally means 'the way of the Kami' Many people are familiar with the term 'kami' - the Japanese concept of 'god' But here's a little more about kami. *Note - some of these will not have perfect grammar and spelling, because they are translated from Japanese. However, the majority of the sources (internet) are encyclopedia or .edu.

Kami are not the same as our Western concept of God. Kami are not all-powerful or perfect - for example:
In the case of Kami called Kuebiko who is believed to have an exceptionally great power... he knows everything happening in the world, yet, he can not move even a step because he has no leg
Kami are also not only divine. An ancestor can be kami, for example - and often are. People are considered to be Children of the Kami, thus the distinction between 'human' and 'god' is further blurred.

Another note is that anything has the possibility of becoming kami. This is not to say that anything will be considered kami on a whim - it must have certain virtue. As a person, the person must have significantly contributed to the culture, the world, or the family. In general, people are not enshrined during their lifetime.

Musuhi is the creative, harmonic power of the kami (think of the concept of the Tao)

There are many kami that are specific to natural aspects - kami of mountains, streams, oceans, animals, fire, etc.

The divine couple are [font=trebuchet ms,arial,helvetica]Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto, who are special because they gave birth to the Japanese islands. [/font]

Ukemochi no Kami - the kami of food (singular, female) Also known as Wakaukanome

Yama-no-kami - the kami of mountains (plural, both genders, two types)

Ho-musubi - the kami of fire (singular, male) Of interest - he was cut into many pieces by his father to make several gods.

http://www.encyclopediabritannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9074128&query=kami&ct=Amaterasu - the sun kami (singular, female) Often seen as 'the most important kami' although pure Shinto does not otherwise place importance on kami 'rank'

The kami-dana is the Shelf of Gods - the shrine. It often has representations of particular kami - regional, favorite, or ancestral.
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High Priestess
sounds like their describing what westerner call angels. There are angels in charge of different parts of nature. And I believe my grand parents are now guarding over me as angels. The kami of fire sound like the dark angel, Satan. Many similarities. So this must be one of those common truths that you will find connecting all true religions. Thank you for fitting a few more pieces into the puzzle.


Keeper of the Grove
This is similar to Druidry.

We have 33 "Gods" though we allow for any number to potentially exist. These Gods are not all-powerful or all-knowing. For instance, Oghma, God of wisdom, logic, and knowledge may know much, but he cannot know everything.

All of these Gods are underneath the Source, which is literally everything. The Source is the initiator, the Great Learner. Even the Source is not omnisentient, or omnipotent.

Master Vigil

Well-Known Member
Since Japan really didn't have a written language until China came over, they used Chinese words and made them Japanese. Shin, or in Chinese Shen means spirit. To, or in Chinese Tao means way. So literally it means "The way of the spirits." Kami is just the name of the spirits. Just to clear that up. :D The rest is fabulous. :D


Well-Known Member
Kami is just the name of the spirits. Just to clear that up
Oh, sorry. I thought I made it clear that Kami was not a general word for spirit :( Sorry!!!

Other than that, from now on, we might have to cut off discussion, I'm not entirely sure we're supposed to be discussing Shinto as outsiders here :)

Master Vigil

Well-Known Member
Oy vey, I agree. Even though I do much study in Shinto beliefs, and apply them to my own. I am still not shinto. OY! :cool:

Tresi Nonno

New Member
[FONT=&quot]Etymology of Japanese kami is the following: Old Ainu (Upper Jomon Ainu) ka-mu-'i [kamuj] -> Old Japanese kamɯ -> Modern Japanese kami. [/FONT] [FONT=&quot]It should be noted that concept kamuy differs seriously from European concepts deus / god / Gott / dios / deux because European god (God of christianity) is a transcendental being opposite to this world while kamuy exists in the neighborhood of people and people can easily get kamuy mosir (island of kamuy) and also people can become kamuy. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Because of it, the word kamuy should not be translated as dew /god / Gott / dios / deux into European languages. I think the best way is to leave the word kamuy without any translation at all and explain its meaning with a certain context.[/FONT]


Well-Known Member
The Japanese language pays particular attention to status. If you want to translate "I saw her yesterday", you need to know the relative status of the speaker, addressee, and person spoken about: the only word with a straight translation is "yesterday". The point about "kami", as I understand it, is that it is an honorific word for spirit. I have a spirit, but it would be the height of vulgarity and presumption to refer to my own spirit as kami. Professor Ono, in his guide to Shinto, wrote "All beings have spirits, so … can be regarded as potential kami. However, because the term is an honorific, it is not customary to apply it to ordinary individuals."

Ben Dhyan

Veteran Member
In the Tenrikyo tradition, which is a more modern offshoot of Shinto, Kami can mean God, Deity, or Spirit.