Today it is said that we Japanese are not interested in religion compared with other countries. One street questionnaire says people who don`t believe any religion are 70%. Then really aren`t Japanese people indifferent to religion? I don`t think that.
I think religion which Japanese people think about have two patterns. pattern ① is uncertain consciousness which is not aware. It means that religion serves as an unconscious custom of the community. For example, people who don`t believe any religion hold funeral by a Buddhism formula or go for the first visit in the year to a shrine. These people are not conscious of it as a religion. The pattern ② is certain consciousness. It is the people who ask self-consciously to religion and people who study the sacred books or practice asceticism. I think many Japanese belong to pattern ① so they don`t look interested in religion external.
And the reason why Japanese don`t think pattern ① is not religion is the process of translation. In Meiji period, because scholars read books to translate from English into Japanese they translated the word “religion” as the word which is used in sophisticated books of religion. So when Japanese use the word “religion” we came to be strongly conscious of pattern ①.
Japanese also have doubts against religion. In March 20 1995, the terrorism using a biological weapon occurred in subway. The criminal of this incident was a founder of a certain religious group. I think this incident made Japanese have a doubt against religion and people who don’t want to have to do with religion increased in spite of religions taking root in our daily.
From these reason, I think Japanese aren’t indifferent to religion but don’t realize that we are deeply related to religion.
by Shinji Nishiura