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Kami is the honourific term for the spiritual beings who are focii of worship in Shinto - beings seen to possess extraordinary power of influence over various areas of human existence - beings of sublime ability or virtue, and therefore considered worthy of revererence.

According to the 18th Century scholar, Motoori Norinaga: "Whatever seemed strikingly impressive, possessed the quality of excellence and virtue, and inspired a feeling of awe was called kami".

It is often said that there are 'eight million' kami - this is not intended to be a literal count, but simply another way of stating "a vast number".

Kami are indeed numerous, and constantly increasing in numbers - one reason they are spoken of as yao-yorozu no kami (ever-increasing myriad spirits), yet together, these myriad spirits form one single harmonious, peaceful unity.

There are both earthly kami (kunitsu kami) and heavenly kami (amatsu kami).

These range from the divine spirits of the creation myths [which are systematically compiled in the classical documents the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki], to ancestral spirits (sorei or umi-gami), spirits of deified heroes & founders of religions, spirits of abstract ideas, spirits of specific objects, to spirits of natural phenomena, spirits of place, features of the landscape - mountains, forests, caves, springs, the very air itself, trees, plants, rocks, fauna, etc.

In one sense, kami can be seen as the creative life force in all things, and a term: musubi refers to the creative, energizing and harmonizing power of kami

While many kami are perceived as male or female - whether human or other animal in form, a great many also considered to be genderless energy-beings.

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