The term god refers to concepts such as spirits, natural forces and superhuman beings. In Japan's native Shinto religion, "god" is usually considered synonymous to the term kami (神). It should be noted, however, that kami include a broader spectrum of beings than those found in monotheistic religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, etc.), or even some polytheistic ones. Shinto is at its roots an animist religion, meaning that any being (alive or dead), object or even phenomenon can be considered a god. Also, it should be noted that the 'G' in "god" should not be capitalized when referring to Shinto gods or any other gods from polytheistic religions.
Like many polytheistic religions (e.g. those of ancient Greece and Rome), Shinto gods live among humans and have direct impact on their daily lives. While their personalities are mostly similar to humans, they possess two aspects known as Ara and Nigi (荒・和): when they are worshipped, they'll protect people and grant them blessings (ご利益 gorieki), but when angry, they'll create disasters and curses (祟 tatari). In some cases, the Ara and Nigi aspects of a god are so different in appearance and behaviour that they are named or worshipped separately. A shrine (神社 jinja) is a place for gods to occupy in order to interact with humans, which can vary in size from a small box or shelf (found in many homes) to an entire building and grounds.
Types of Gods
- Yaoyorozu no Kami
The Eight Million Gods (八百万の神 Yaoyorozu no Kami) is the term in Shinto that is used to refer to gods in general. It also refers to the idea of "believing in Shinto faith". While conventionally translated as "Eight Million Gods", it uses the older Japanese meaning of "eight" (八 hachi, ya) as "myriad" (The number of gods is actually unaccountably large).
- Divine Spirit
Divine spirits (神霊 shinrei) are the spirits of humans who ascended to godhood before or after their death.
Characters that are this species
- Wikipedia's entry for Kami
- Touhou Wiki's entry for God