Rising Sun > Culture > Religion in Japan

Religion in Japan

Japanese go to Shinto shrine when they are born, and Japanese go to church when they get married, Japanese go to Buddhist temple for their funeral. So there are some religions in Japanese culture naturally and it's so unique culture of religion in the world.

On the other hands, general Japanese would say "I have no religions" to you when you ask about their religion. However, every Japanese have a lot of experiences of major religious events, for example Christmas of Christian, Hatsumode of Shinto and the Bon festival of Buddhism, even if they told that they have no religion.

OmikujiThis custom was made by the way of thinking of Shinto, which is the oldest religion in Japan. At Shinto, Japanese have believed "Yorozuno-Kami", which is the word describing eight million gods, since beginning of Japan. It's a similar religion from the ancient Greek mythology and Shinto also describes that the gods dwell in everything. So, when some religions, which are Christianity and Buddhism, were introduced into Japan, Japanese add them to the Yorozuno-Kami at that time. Even if the most of Japanese aren't the believer of Shinto, the way of thinking effects Japanese culture.

Therefore Japanese is open-mind for other religions, on the other hands they don't like to be bound by one religion. This is the reason that Japanese prefer to say "I have no religion". If you invite some Japanese to your Halloween party, your Japanese friends would feel so happy, and if you talk about your religion to them, they might be interested. But if you recommend Japanese to become a believer in your religion, they would feel so bad and escape from you.

Population of religion

The major religions are Buddhism, Shinto and Christianity in Japan. Shinto and Buddhism have infiltrated in Japanese life, but Christianity isn't so popular and the reason is the Christianity is still new for Japanese comparing to the others.

It isn't big mistake to say "The most of Japanese believe both of Shinto and Buddhism without knowing it". Because, many houses have some amulets and a household Shinto altar and Buddhism altar, and some people carry a charm around with them.

Actually, the number of believer in Shinto is one hundred and six million, and ninety six million is for Buddhism and the number of the believers of Christianity is two million in Japan. The total amount is tow hundred and fifty five, and the number is bigger than Japanese total population. So, a lot of people believe more than two religions.

Popular religious annual functions

The bellow table describes the major event in Japan. So when you stay in Japan, please try every event!

HatsumodeShintoJan 1stFirst vistiting of the year to a Shrine at New Year's, and then pray their health and peace for a year.
ValentineChiristianityFeb 14thIn Japan, woman gives a chocolate to man with her love.
Bon FestivalBuddhismAug 13rd - 16thinvite their ancestral spirits, and send them to heaven.
ChristmasChiristianityDec 24thHave a party with their familly or lover, and change the presents each other.

I'd like to add the information about Japanese Holidays.

Holiday in Japan
We can check out Japanese National Holidays by the list on this page, and it would help you to plan your travel schedule in Japan. This page is also written about the system and reasons of Japanese holiday and Japanese vacations.