Shinigami – Do you know these gods of death?

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Do you know what it really means Shinigami? Who are they? Why are gods of death? In this article, we are going to talk all about the Shinigami and their involvement in Japanese culture.

I think some of the people who searched for that word know very well that shinigami [死神] means "God of Death" or "Spirit of Death". Probably saw it in some anime like Death Note or Bleach. But what about a God of Death?

Shinigami culture in Japan

In the West shinigami are vaguely confused with the "Death”. The one that takes human life, sweeping a person out of existence here on earth and leading them to the other world. But is it something related?

Shinigami is a term used in Japan to describe supernatural entities present in japanese mythology, that invite human beings to death or that induce them to commit suicide.

In ancient scriptures, the shinigami was also the demon that characterized the time each person had to live. Throughout different legends and beliefs, shinigami do not have a main representation.


In Buddhism the shinigami has another name, Mrtyu-mara (Death), he presents himself as the personification of temptation and according to the belief, whoever was possessed by this demon and was helpless, would be incited to suicide. it is often confused with an explanation of the intentional act of dying.

They are mentioned in the classic literature of the Edo Period, in the book "Ehon Hyaku Monogatari" of 1841, a story called "Shinigami" appeared, different from the God of Death that induced people to suicide, this story presented the God of Death as the reincarnation of the malicious spirit of a Dead, he took advantage of the evil intentions of his victims and these were led astray, resulting in incidents and cases of murder, and so, they fell into place of subjugating people, taking control. of the person and they committed suicide.

After the war, the Western notion of the god of death was established in Japan and the Shinigami began to be seen as an existence in human nature.

The term Shinigami became something popular in Japan, no longer a feared and tormenting being, having several works in book, manga and anime formats, making the myth of the God of Death popular, also in the West.

Shinigami - do you know these gods of death?

Myths and Legends about Shinigami

Shinigami are also mentioned in post-war popular culture. According to the habits and customs of Miyajima in Kumamoto Prefecture, those who go out at night to meet someone should drink tea or eat a plate of rice before bed, as it is said that if such a recipe was ignored, a shinigami would visit him.

In the area of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, there is a myth that a shinigami possess people, taking them to the mountains, seas and railways, where others had died. In these places, the dead "return from the dead" (shiniban) and if there were no one to die, they would never ascend even if they did a service; thus, it is said that people who were alive would be invited by death to return in the next one.

In another context, it is common to visit the tombs on behalf of Higan, during midday or when the sun goes down, however, in Okayama Prefecture, visiting a tomb at sunrise could result in the person's possession, victim of a shinigami.

Once one has visited the tomb at sunset, it would be necessary to return to the site at dawn as well, because ignoring this, a shinigami could return and possess the individual. With this popular belief theory, it is also thought that sometimes people consider that the bourei (亡霊, lit. ghost) of the deceased, who has no one to deify him, looks for someone to invite him to join to them in death.

Anime about Shinigami

Below we will see some of the best anime that focus on shinigami or gods of death, followed by a complete list of anime that have shinigami in their history. Hope you enjoyed the article! What is your opinion about the shinigami?

death note

Light Yagami is the best student in Japan. One day, his life undergoes a radical change when he finds a supernatural notebook called "Death Note", lying on the floor. Behind the notebook were instructions on its use, where it said that if you wrote a person's name and mentally visualized their face, (if you didn't specify their death) they would die of a heart attack in 40 seconds. Light was suspicious of the notebook's authenticity, but after testing it on two occasions, he realizes that its power was true.

After five days, he is visited by the Death Note's true owner, a shinigami named Ryuk. He says he dropped the notebook on Earth because he was bored. Light's goal is to kill all criminals, cleanse the world of evil and become "god of the new world".

Shinigami - do you know these gods of death?

Soul Eater

Soul Eater tells the story of craftsmen students of a Shinigami Technical School. Each one has a different weapon that is also their partner. All students and guns go to class and have homework to do. Homework usually consists of capturing a certain soul or keeping the peace in the world.

Dakara Boku wa H ga Dakinai

A young man was walking in the rain when he sees a beautiful girl, red-eyed and wet from the rain. Everyone was avoiding her, but Ryousuke was taught to value women, so he offered to help. Ryousuke couldn't have imagined that this mysterious girl would stab him in the chest and drop him...


tells the story of Kurosagi Ichigo, a young teenager who accidentally gains powers from another shinigami, Kuchiki Rukia.

Shinigami - do you know these gods of death?

Shinigami no Ballad

A shinigami dressed in white, with a scythe in her hand and accompanied by a talking cat with wings. This is a basic description of the two main characters in the series: Momo, the Shinigami and Daniel, the flying cat.

There are 6 independent stories. In each story, Momo will relate to different characters who, in some way, have connected with death with the loss of friends, relatives or himself. She will work with everyone's emotional and memory, trying to reverse or fix the hatred, regret, nostalgia or sadness of characters who lost a loved one.

Kyoukai no Rinne

As a child Mamiya Sakura mysteriously disappeared into the woods behind her grandmother's house. She returned safe and sound, but has since gained the power to see ghosts. Now she's a teenager who just wants to be left alone by the ghosts. At school, the table next to Sakura has been empty since the beginning of the school year, so one day, her always absent classmate shows up, but he's much more than he appears to be.

List of anime with Shinigami

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
Shinigami Anime NameYearType
death note2006TV
Soul Eater2008TV
Full Moon wo Sagashite2002TV
RIN-NE 22016TV
RIN-NE 32017TV
Descendants of Darkness2000TV
So, I Can't Play H!2012TV
Momo: The Girl God of Death2006TV
Omishi Magical Theater: Risky Safety1999TV
Soul Eater Not!2014TV
Bleach Movie 4: Hell Verse2010Movie
Bleach Movie 3: Fade to Black2008Movie
Bleach Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion2007Movie
Bleach Movie 1: Memories of Nobody2006Movie
Kuro no Sumika: Chronus2014Movie
Bleach: Memories in the Rain2004OVA
Bleach: The Sealed Sword Frenzy2005OVA
Zou no Senaka: Tabi-Datsu Hi2007OVA

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