Modern Life And The Old Time Religion Of Japan

I come from a place where people are really serious about religion and it’s everywhere you go.  No, I’m not from the Middle East – try the Middle West.  Missouri, to be exact.  So I’ve always found it refreshing that Japanese people aren’t so religious.

But when you look in all the Japan guides, they tell you that Japan has two religions – Shinto and Buddhism.Shinto

Shinto is the old-time religion with spirits in the trees and wind and the ghosts of your ancestors watching over you.  Buddhism came from China starting about 1,500 years ago along with civilization.  What happened was that Buddhist practice was basically slapped right on top of the old gods and now the two peacefully coexist.  The Shinto gods live in the shrines (神社) while Buddha hangs out in the temples (お寺).

If this is true, why don’t I have old ladies coming to my door with magazines asking if I’d like to learn about the Shinto spirits?  Why aren’t there Buddhist televangelists thumping sutras on TV every Sunday morning and telling me that in order to attain true enlightenment, I have to call now and giving my credit card?  Where’s the religion of Japan that I keep hearing so much about?

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