Are Japanese people really indifferent to religion?

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

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2 thoughts on “Are Japanese people really indifferent to religion?

  1. it should be a surprising fact that many japanese say that they dont belieave in a certain religion. but it is also true that we do not forget to thank everything that we get. i think part of this is because of shinto. it is so much related to our everyday customs, such as saying “itadakimasu” or just thanking the nature. the moves of sumo come from shinto tradition. so it might be that we dont realize our religion now that it has already been in our everyday life for so long.

  2. I think it is fair to say that Japanese aren’t indifferent to religion but don’t realize that we are deeply related to religion. Most of we Japanese don’t usually think we belong to a perticuler religion. Then we may answer we don’t believe any religion, if we are asked. But our life is deeply related to religion. In Japan, there are many unreasonable religion which take advantage of people’s weak points and worries. We have been told that we mustn’t be involved in such a religion since we were little children. Then, we tend to doubts against religion. I think we may be conscious of our religion and understand it is the same as unreasonable religion in the point of being religion, and so recognize the difference.

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