About religion ~Japanese perspective~

The history of the religion goes back to many centuries ago. For example, Christianity was spread from the Middle East and to Europe and even many countries in the world. There are about 30 % of the people in the world who are Christian. Also there are Buddhism and Islam which are famous in the current world. On the other hand, do you know what is happening in Japan? According to the data which was reported in 2000, it is said that more than half of the Japanese people are with no religious faith. Actually, some of my friends say some religious groups are bit scary and even crazy. Why do people tend to think like this even we go to shrine or temple for traditional events? I would like to consider about it with my ideas.

Originally, Japanese had some kind of religious thing. We have respected all the nature and surroundings, which might be a tree, soil, river, and anything. We had believed that for each of the nature things, there is a god. Compare to the Christianity and Islamic, Japanese religious value is very ambiguous because it is polytheism, not monotheism. Moreover, the gods live in the nature are invisible. They do not have a shape of a body, so it means we rather respect the nature itself, not the gods in the nature.

I think this is one of the reasons why most of the Japanese are without religion. Another reason is because some religious groups caused troubles in the society. Famous one is the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, by Aum Shinrikyo. It was a terrible incident which murdered innocent 13 people. It created the value that the religion is scary and crazy. If your god told you to kill people, would you follow that? It is not a religious problem, but a moral problem. I think most of the Japanese people will continue to live without religion unless some specific religions will grow in Japan. Anyway, I think Japanese value of religion is very interesting because many kinds of religions are mixed in the society. It is a complicated issue.

References http://www.gotquestions.org/polytheism.html “What is polytheism?” http://homepage2.nifty.com/path/shukyo.html 「日本人の宗教観」 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/地下鉄サリン事件 「地下鉄サリン事件」

by Takeshi Sakagami

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