The religions of Japan are among the least understood by members of Western society. This happens for a number of reasons, most prominently because they are so much an organic part of the culture that even many Japanese don’t give them much thought. In fact, one often hears Japanese say that they are not religious, even as they are participating in some festival, or entering/leaving a shrine. The religions are simply a part of daily life, and thus not considered a separate religious aspect.
Generally, religion in Japan breaks down into one of two major types – Shinto or Buddhism – but that is as simplistic as saying religion in the West is either Christian or non-Christian; true to an an extent, but failing to capture the shear breadth of the religious experience. Each of the two groups has unique observances, yet commonalities exist. Continue reading