Main building of the Ise Jingu Shinto shrine in Japan

Religions in Japan | Japanese Religions

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Japan has two main religions; Shinto and Buddhism. Although many people claim to have no particular belief,
most people participate in both Shinto and Buddhist customs and rituals. For example, most weddings are conducted according to Shinto rituals, while funerals usually follow Buddhist practices.

todaiji temple hall in nara japan


The Shinto religion originated in Japan, and it is based on ancient history and mythology. People believe that spiritual forces exist in nature, in trees or mountains, in the sea, and in the wind.

With the development of Shintoism, heroes and other revered characters were included in the spiritual ones. Before the first shrines were built, people went to natural places to worship the natural spirits. Today, some homes have ‘trays for the gods’ in which food is offered to the gods.


Japanese shinto religion

Buddhism was born in India and introduced in Japan around the middle of the 6th century. The Buddhist religion in Japan is mainly based on Zen principles of reaching Nirvana while alive. Buddhist temples contain religious statues and visitors to temples often burn incense in front of the statues. Many families also have Buddhist altars where ancestors are worshipped in their homes.


There is also a small percentage of Christians in Japan. They live all over Japan but you can mainly find them in the southwestern part of Japan in Kyushu due to its contacts with Portuguese traders and missionaries during the Edo period. You can, for example, see many churches in a city like Nagasaki.

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