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How important a role does religion play in Japanese society?

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Probably doesn't play much at all, much like other societies where the influence of religion has decreased (with maybe the exception of radical islam).

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Coming from a Western country (Australia), I used to classify "religious" as going to church on Sunday. So when I first came to Japan decades ago, I thought the Japanese weren't religious at all.

Then I started to see priests blessing baseball teams at the start of the season, blessing ground-breaking ceremonies for new buildings, blessing farms for a good crop yield, blessing machines that were being retired, and of course, there were "teru teru bozu" dolls that are supposed to bring good weather. I thought the Japanese were extremely superstitious, but then again, any religious ritual must look like superstition to a non-believer.

So my answer is yes, I think Japanese people are religious in their own way.

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I think religion was more important in the past, but one could say that a lot of what we see in the Japanese sense of what's right and proper action in business and family is probably a reflection of Confucian ideas. Also, for quite a few older folks, and some younger folks, Buddhism and Shintoism are very much part of their lives, although not so many engage in the kind of daily practice we see in other countries. Still, for others, these religions are just an empty form, maintained for the benefit of others.

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religion? not very.

superstition? very.

course you could make the case that religion=superstition, so I'm no exactly sure what my point is.

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bamboohat is on the money.The Japanese will throw money at anything that gives them a sense of 'covering their bases'. While there are some truly religious people,the majority of religions here just make tons of money as they have a special tax loophole.I work in a buddhist-related job, and the penny-pinching I see has woken me up to what buddhism achieves in Japan.The fact that a lot of the priests here drink and smoke like chimneys prompts many questions about their ability to give up the physical wants of the world, and the temples seem interested in only perpetuating their sect and their coffers.

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On the outside, the average Japanese would look quite religious when they visit a shrine, eat meals, go to a cemetery and so on. However on the inside, when asked if they believe in a God or a higher being of some sort, the answer will be vague at best. Some would suggest that this the root cause of many of the problems that Japanese society faces today. So I would have to say "no" that religion doesn't play an important role or have a true impact on Japanese society.

S

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Are you kidding? Have you seen the way Japanese people drive? They have very strong gods in Japan. "Bonzai!"

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Yup, bamboohat has it.

Gotta agree with Osakadaz, too. Apart from one outstanding priest I used to know (now passed on, surely to Nirvana) who lived what he preached, religion in Japan appears to be purely a money-making business. Ask a Buddhist priest to arrange a funeral for you and before offering his condolences he'll offer you a price list. Ask a Shinto priest about a wedding, and before the congratulations you'll get, again, a price list.

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Not at all, except for getting some quick 'luck' or whatnot

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One of the things that I like about Japan is the fact that religion doesn't play a very big part in society, or as others have said, at least religion in the AngloSaxon sense of moralizing and proselytizing.

bamboohat;

course you could make the case that religion=superstition

Well said.

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can materialism be considered a religion?

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No idea. Why don't you publish an article about it, instead of getting people with too much time on their hands to do your writing for you? Sorry, been here too long.

Moderator: The section is called Have Your Say.

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Very little beyond helping to glue part of the cultural heritage together. Most Japanese I know go to the temple or shrine about three times a year. 1. New Years 2. During Sakura Season 3. Festival Season. And all seem more like social ritual than deep seeded adherence to organized religion.

But most Japanese I know carry a lot of superstition and pseudo-shinto beliefs that I think influence their thinking. But morally I think more of their behavior is driven by social mores.

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In J religion dont drive moral or a search for self-illumination. It keep going for tradition inertia and lucky charms/rituals. Is so soft and superficial that hardly mess in the politics or the justice system. Is present everyday, in everyones lifes, but have the same impact of the wallpaper in a room. Is interesting to be in a country that have very strict gun control, weak armed forces and no strong religion. For some foreigners must to look stupid, but I think that is another thing that help to keep low levels of violence. On the negative side, I dont think that people managing the temples like a business is better or worst than TV preachers in the west. No surprise that young people is not very religious, having priests that behave like shoopkeepers is not very inspiring. The only thing that I really can criticize is the Burakumin isue that have religious roots.

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Religion like society must prove its value.

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it will keep being important until all the baba jiji die out, which wont be anytime soon. Japanese religion revolves around money way too much.

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when i see japanese with a cross i think they are very religious.of course many of them is in the name of fashion.i also want to learn about their religions more.so i cant comment more on this.

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BrandonKlex, LOL.

Japanese people with cross = Westerners with chinese character tattoo

"What does that mean?"

"I think it means "peace" (power, loyalty, etc) or something..."

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I got the feeling from reading many of these posts and even talking to many Japanese people themselves that religion is about Western ideas and Western definitions, therefore the Japanese are not seen to be religious. I think it is much more than that. Anyone can even have a look at Wiki and see a number of definitions.

At a glance the Japanese appear to be very superstitious. Superstition is based on certain "other-worldly forces" in the universe. For me that is the same as religion. And the interest in the occult in this country is extremely high.

Also many of their beliefs and daily influences come from Shintoism which is a religion.

Superficially, to people from more Western countries the Japanese don't appear to be religious. But once you actually see what people do here, they definitely are religious.

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Japanese religion is consumerism. Go to any downtown area in Japan on a Sunday and you will see the congregation flock to the shops. They are greeted with homilies from the pastors of the shops. The congregation kneel, bend, stoop, gasp and pay homage to the various tidbits on display. After leaving the shops the congregation feel satisfied and spritually renewed for the week ahead.

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bamboohat at 08:29 AM JST - 15th October

religion? not very.

superstition? very.

Your right on here bamboohat..

My in laws dont do much in what I would call religion(in a western view), but they/we do all the right things for the paticular religious holiday/day...

So I dont think they are overly religious, but they dont want to not do the ceremony items either...So they are religious just not overly.

Its actually refreshing that religion is in the culture and just part of what is being Japanese, and not like it is in the States..

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None... Have a look at the amounts of money people give to the templates each year thinking money is the solution to everything.

Another examples is the "how to cheat" articles in magazines...

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Religion? Whats that?

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Another examples is the "how to cheat" articles in magazines...

Really?

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they dont give it any priority generally, that's good

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