What Is The Major Religion In Japan – “A Japanese is born a Shinto, marries a Christian, and dies a Buddhist.” It’s impossible, but it makes sense in Japan. The concept of spirituality and religion in Japan is different from what we are used to in the West, so it is very interesting to learn about it. But beware: once you’re on the Japanese cult train, you can’t stop. You need to learn more to better understand its culture and lifestyle. So join us as we explore the differences between Buddhism, Shinto, and other religions that coexist in Japan!
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What Is The Major Religion In Japan
According to the 2021 official document of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 48.1% of the population living in Japan consider themselves Shintoists, and 46.5% Buddhists. Only 1.05% are Christians, and the remaining 4.3% belong to other religions. This data is not trivial and we know that the number is 181 million people and Japan alone has 126 million people. How can it be? The answer is that many people identify as both Shinto and Buddhist and thus choose between the two.
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As you can see, Shintoism and Buddhism are closely related in Japan. Over the years, their synchronicity has made them live together in the same country and inspire each other.
Shintoism is a religion that follows the worship of kami (spirits). It has greatly influenced Japanese culture for over 2,000 years, and is therefore the foundation of Japanese psychology. This religion has its own traditions and ways of honoring them
It is one of the oldest surviving religions in the modern world and is not in danger of extinction due to the threat of a stronger religion. Buddhism was the only religion that embraced it, but they were able to change and influence each other, combining rituals, traditions and symbolic images.
Religion In Japan
Although similar religions can be found in other countries, such as Chinese Taoism, Japanese culture has its own Shinto religion. Japan is the only country where Shintoism is the official religion. We can see some small churches (called
– overseas temples) in countries with a large Japanese population, such as Hawaii, Brazil, and the United States. At the same time, there were no Shinto missions abroad. We can say that Shintoism is deeply rooted in the Japanese landscape and its people. It is a way to understand the environment, nature, things and the condition of Japan and its emperor.
Kami is nothing like the Western gods we know. We can describe them as powerful spirits who are better than humans.
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These Japanese spirits come in many forms and the number is endless. There are important deities such as the sun god Amaterasu, living beings (animals), elements of nature (mountains or storms), and deceased ancestors, including the former emperor of Japan.
— சான்) like a mirror, a jewel, a sword and kept in a secret box in the main shrine. But others are hiding in trees or mountains. Some of them are stored in one place
Shinto is as old as Japanese civilization. During the early Jomon period (14,500 BC – 300 BC), each community living on the Japanese mainland had its own animistic beliefs. They also believe that powerful spirits and ancestors are at work, explaining mysterious phenomena.
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When they founded the state of Yamato (the first Japanese empire), they decided to combine these small beliefs to form the “one truth”. The history of Japanese literature is summarized in Kojiki, the oldest book of Japan. Here they explain the beginning of human life according to Shintoism and connect these supreme gods with the Japanese royal family. It should be remembered that according to Shintoism, the emperor and his family are descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu and therefore have the right to rule Japan.
Shinto is as old as Japanese civilization. Izumo Taisha Shrine is one of the oldest in Japan.
Shintoism is a true symbol of Japanese identity. At one point in history it was used by Japanese aborigines.
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The Meiji Restoration was the last period in history in which Shinto was used for non-religious purposes. Some purists in Japanese society wanted to make Shinto the only religion in Japan and tried to suppress Buddhism. During this period, Shinto shrines became part of state-owned enterprises controlled by the government. It was called the Shinto State and lasted until the end of World War II.
After that, the government ended the Shinto state, but the relationship between Japanese nationalism and Shintoism still has its traces. The most vivid example of this is Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. This shrine was built in 1869 to honor the soldiers who died during the Boshin War. Since then, as we explained in our yurei ghost article, many weapons have been recorded.
There with the participants of the Second World War. It may sound like an old story, but recently, several prime ministers of Japan have visited this temple to pay their respects to the government.
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). Unlike other religions, shrines are built where the spirit resides. This may explain why there are so many restrictions on hidden and surprising places. Some temples to visit in Japan:
Buddhism was founded in India by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) (VI – IV BC). Buddha is not considered a supreme deity, but as a person with a high level of spirituality, it is necessary to follow his teachings. Buddhism has influenced the spirituality and culture of many Asian countries, including Japan, and is one of the most widespread religions in the world. Buddhism has teachings and following them will lead you to complete happiness.
Buddhism originated in Japan during the Nara period (710-794), during the reign of Emperor Kinmei in the 6th century. With the support of important families, the pro-Buddhist Emperor Shōmu built the Todaiji Temple in Nara, the symbol and center of a network of Buddhist temples across Japan. That is why Buddhism has been formed in Japanese society to this day. Throughout history, some schools of Buddhism have had more influence than religion, even politics and the imperial court. But during the Sengoku period, Buddhism was forced to give up this power and focus on religion.
Shintoism In Japan
Over the years, Buddhism has created many different schools of Buddhism. One of the most famous is Shingon, an esoteric Buddhism that currently has a Japanese temple in Koyasan. One of the most popular Buddhist movements of this period is Pure Land Buddhism, which was dedicated to teaching and spreading Buddhist ideas to the lower classes of Japanese society during the Kamakura period. This school says that by chanting the name of Amida Buddha, you can find salvation by blessing yourself. The last school we will mention is the world-famous Zen from Chinese Chan Buddhism and is divided into two schools: Rinzai (compare.
Practice while meditating) and Soto (which emphasizes living with an open mind). Zen focuses on meditation, following daily practices, and self-awareness to achieve enlightenment.
Shinto views death as a bad thing, but when Buddhism came to Japan, the funeral rites of the two religions changed. Shinto priests could not perform the funeral rites, so Buddhist monks began to conduct these funerals. This was required of the Tokugawa government because Buddhist monks were ordered to bury the dead.
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Nowadays in Japan you can choose between Shinto or Buddhism. However, most Japanese citizens choose the second option. In addition to funerals, many Buddhist holidays focus on death and the spirits of the dead, such as Obon.
If you stumble upon a Japanese cemetery, chances are it’s a Buddhist cemetery. The summer festival of Obon is a Buddhist event to welcome the ancestors.
The temple is a place of worship for Buddhists. They can be identified by their large holes, manji mark (jč) and other distinctive features. Some temples to visit in Japan:
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Religion in Japan is more than Shintoism and Buddhism. Although there are more than 80,000 mosques and 75,000 synagogues, many cities have places of worship of other religions.
Today, only 1% of Japanese identify as Christians. Christianity came to Japan in the 16th century thanks to European missionaries. After a few years in the country, the Edo period government banned and expelled most of the missionaries living in Japan. Only in the 19th century was Christianity accepted again.
In some places, including many places on the island of Kyushu, such as the Nagasaki Goto Islands, you will find a Christian heritage in Japan. In addition, there are many Catholic churches in large cities
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