Shinigami (死神?, "death spirit") is the personification of death that evolved in Japan, having been imported to Japan from Europe during the Meiji period. This image of death was quickly adopted and featured in such works as the rakugo play Shinigami and in Shunsen Takehara's Ehon Hyaku Monogatari (One-hundred Story Picture-Book).

The term shinigami may also be used more loosely to refer to any death deity. It seems to be a recent term, however, as it belongs to no specific Shinto deity and is rarely used in folklore.

Perhaps the first appearance of shinigami in Japan was in a rakugo play titled Shinigami. It is thought that this play was based on the Italian opera Crispino e la Comare, which was in turn based on Der Gevatter Tod, a German fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

Today, the use of shinigami for any number of supernatural beings associated with death in Japanese manga and anime is common. For example, the series Bleach, Death Note, and Soul Eater use shinigami as a major plot device.

Related deities

The following are Japanese death deities but are usually not referred to as shinigami:

  • Enma (, -daiō)
Enma, also known as Yama, is a deity from Buddhist and Hindu tradition who judges the dead with either reward or punishment in Jigoku (a world in the afterlife usually referred to in English as the Japanese "Hell").
A goddess in Shinto, wife of Izanagi. Izanami is a goddess of creation who later became a goddess of death.


External links

ca:Shinigami cs:Šinigamiel:Σινιγκάμι eo:Ŝinigamioid:Shinigami it:Shinigamims:Shinigami nl:Shinigami no:Shinigami pl:Shinigamiro:Shinigami ru:Синигами sk:Šinigami sv:Shinigami tr:Şinigami

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