About Religions of Japan               BACK TO TOP 

Most Japanese believe in Shintoism and Buddhism. In Japan, less than 1% of 
the people are Christians.
But I think Shintoism & Buddhism are customs rather than faiths,
because many Japanese pray to Shinto shrines at the beginning of a new year,
and have funerals with Buddhist rites.
Perhaps many Americans will ask us why we have two religions.
Buddhism is only precepts, so it doesn't have gods. And Shintoism 
principally worships nature, so gods reside throughout nature in the sun,
the ground, the water, the mountains, and the trees for example.
The two religions are not conflicting and often came together in synthesis
until 130 years ago.
Buddhist precepts are to take care of all life, (even animals)
not to squander food, to respect one's own ancestors, to keep kindness
in one's mind, to be thankful to other people, and for all blessings.
These precepts are nearly the same as those found in Matthew chapters 5 to 7.
(taught on a mountain.)
The precepts mean well, but the sutras aren't written by Japanese.
These are written in Chinese characters translated from Sanskrit. 
Only specialists understand the meaning. It is the fatal defect of Buddhism.
I can say basically the Buddha's precepts resemble those of Jesus.
And I can understand that all people have original sin.
Many Japanese believe in the existence of gods, but they aren't in the form 
of homosapiens. They are in other natural forms.

In Japan, Christianity was introduced about 400 years ago.
But from 350 years ago, until 130 years ago, Christianity was prohibited
for fear of an immanent invasion from western nations. (England, Spain, etc)
Thereby preserving the feudal government keeping the social system in tact.
Consequently, there were a great numbers of martyrs 350 years ago.
After the permission of Christian practices, Japanese nationalism prevented
the organization until after World War‡U.

In Japan, the number of churches is less than in the U.S.
My city (there are 30000 people) has only 2 churches.
They are Catholic and Protestant.

Most Japanese are Buddhist, but they are not devout, they pray only at
funerals and the anniversary of a person's death.
Many Japanese think good of the precepts of Jesus, but they can't easily 
understanding the Atonement of Jesus because Japanese culture doesn't have a
sacrifice to gods.
From long ago, they had made offerings to their gods, like flowers and
agricultural products and fish.