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Home » 2. Kami (Deities) » Concepts of Kami
Sumegami
"Noble kami." Since the prefix sume means "revered," the term sumegami can be considered a general title of respect for kami. At the same time, since the same character sume is also used in terms such as "emperor" (tennō), the title tends to be used particularly to refer to imperial ancestral deities (see sojin). While it was long believed that the term sume originated in the term subu (to unify, consolidate, rule), that theory has been subjected to criticism in recent years. In the ancient period, the term sumegami was used as a general term of respect for any kami; in works like Izumo no kuni fudoki, Man'yōshū, Engishiki, and norito, kami ruling over a specific locality are sometimes called sumegami. With time, the term came to be used more narrowly to designate imperial ancestral deities, and as a term of respect for the historical emperors.

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