Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan and Religion

We tend to have our views about countries in terms of how religious they are...or not.

Japan is no different. Kudos, then, to GetReligion.org for picking up on various reports as to the
actual state of belief in Japan. Here's CNN.com on when the Japanese bring religion into their lives:

Proud of their secular society, most Japanese aren’t religious in the way Americans are: They tend not to identify with a single tradition nor study religious texts. "The average Japanese person doesn’t consciously turn to Buddhism until there’s a funeral,” says Brian Bocking, an expert in Japanese religions at Ireland’s University College Cork. When there is a funeral, though, Japanese religious engagement tends to be pretty intense. “A very large number of Japanese people believe that what they do for their ancestors after death matters, which might not be what we expect from a secular society,” says Bocking. “There’s widespread belief in the presence of ancestors’ spirits.”

And USA today on religious percentages:

Japan is 90% Buddhist or Shinto or a combination of the two, with young urban Japanese more inclined to have drifted from religious attachments.

The same writer, Cathy Lynn Grossman, begins a blog post on Japanese and religion by writing simply: Everyone prays.

Finally, Religion News Service tells us this:

Churches and Christians in northeastern Japan, the most heavily affected area, are still out of contact days after the disaster. Studies estimate that 2 percent of Japanese are Christian, with the vast majority practicing Buddhism and the indigenous Shinto religion.

The various reports go to confirm yet again, that there is no country in the world that can be simply called, 'secular.'

PS. There is a short news report video on this blog page showing some slightly more positive aspects post-disaster.

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