Shinigami - Do you know these gods of death?

WRITTEN BY

Open enrollment for Ricardo Cruz Nihongo Premium's Japanese course! Click make your registration!

You know what it really means Shinigami? Who are they? Why are they 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". You probably saw it in some anime like Death Note or Bleach. But how come a God of Death?

The culture of Shinigami in Japan

In the West, shinigamis are vaguely confused with “Death”. The one that takes human life, sweeping the person out of existence here on earth and leading them to the other world. But is there anything related?

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

In ancient scriptures, the shinigami was also the demon that characterized each person's lifespan. Throughout different legends and beliefs, shinigami does not have a main representation.

THE ORIGIN OF THE DEATH GOD - SHINIGAMI

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

They are mentioned in the classic literature of the Edo Period, in the 1841 book “Ehon Hyaku Monogatari”, a story emerged entitled “Shinigami”, different from the God of Death that induced people to commit suicide, this story presented the God of Death as the reincarnation of the evil spirit of a Dead Man, he took advantage of the evil intentions of his victims and these were led to the wrong ways, resulting in incidents and cases of murders, and thus, they fit in the place of subjugating people, took control of the person and they committed suicide.

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

The term Shinigami has become popular in Japan, ceasing to be 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 - você conhece esses deuses da morte?

Myths and Legends about Shinigami

Shinigamis are also mentioned in popular postwar 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 going to sleep, as it is said that if such a recipe were ignored, a shinigami would visit him.

In the Hamamatsu area, Shizuoka Prefecture, there is a myth that a shinigami has people, leading them to the mountains, seas and railways, where others had died. In these places, the dead “return from death” (shiniban) and if there was no one to die, they would never ascend even if they rendered a service; thus, it is said that people who were alive would be invited by death to return in the near future.

In another context, it is common to visit the tombs in favor of Higan, during noon or when the sun goes down, however, in Okayama province, visiting a deposit at sunrise, could result in the possession of the person, victim of a shinigami.

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

Shinigami Anime

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. I 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 how to use it, where it said that if you write a person's name and mentally visualize the person's face (if you didn't specify his death) he would die of a heart attack in 40 seconds. Light suspected the authenticity of the notebook, but after testing it on two occasions, he realizes that its power was true.

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

Shinigami - você conhece esses deuses da morte?

Soul Eater

Soul Eater tells the story of student artisans at a Shinigami Technical School. Each has a different weapon that is also their partner. All students and weapons go to classes and have homework to do. Homework normally consists of capturing a certain soul or maintaining peace in the world.

Dakara Boku wa H ga Dakinai

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

Bleach

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

Shinigami - você conhece esses deuses da morte?

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, Shinigami and Daniel, the flying cat.

There are 6 independent stories. In each story, Momo, will relate to several characters who, in some way, have been linked 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 the characters who lost a loved one.

Kyoukai no Rinne

As a child Mamiya Sakura mysteriously disappeared in the forest behind her grandmother's house. She returned safe and sound, but has since gained the power to see ghosts. Now she is 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, his always-absent classmate appears, but he is much more than he appears to be.

Anime list with Shinigami

Shinigami Anime NameYearType
Death Note2006TV
Soul Eater2008TV
Bleach2004TV
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
RIN-NE2015TV
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

Thanks for the comments and shares.