Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Your Name?


Shinigami ("death god" or "God of Death") 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.

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