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Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Concepts of Kami
An honorific title affixed to the name of a kami or venerated person. While two Sino-Japanese characters ̿ and ºhave been used to express mikoto, the Nihongi states that "the character ºis used to extol the utmost in divine reverence, while ̿ is used to refer to others. Both are read mikoto." This comment thus reflects the practice of using the character ºprimarily when referring to heavenly kami (amatsukami) and ancestral kami (sojin) of the imperial house, while the character ̿ was used to refer to other kami. Kojiki, on the other hand, uses the character ̿ exclusively.

The original meaning of mikoto is said to involve a reference to the function of a "word-holder" (mikoto mochi), namely a minister or medium who receives and bears the "honorable word" (mikoto) or oracular pronouncements of the kami. In turn, the term came to be used as a title for the kami itself. For example, in Book I of Kojiki, one sees reference to the two kami Izanagi no kami and Izanami no kami, but immediately upon receiving the injunction (mikoto) of the heavenly kami, their titles are changed to Izanagi no mikoto and Izanami no mikoto.

Within shrine Shinto, all people born into this world are regarded as having received the mikoto of the kami. As a result, they are often given the posthumous suffix "Mikoto."

-Shimazu Norifumi
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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