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Pseudo religions thriving in Japan.

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Ben W, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W Active Member
    Site Supporter

    Sep 16, 2002
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    Interesting article from Japan's main news server.

    - Young Japanese apathetic toward religion

    Most young Japanese feel apathetic toward religion, with little knowledge of the mainstream Buddhist and Shinto faiths and no interaction with monks and priests. Shinto shrines are visited en masse at New Year's and on other established occasions, but generally as a social custom and not for genuine religious purposes. The enshrining of secular government and religious freedom in the 1947 constitution prompted a decline in organized religion, and the role of the temple is now mainly relegated to providing funeral services.

    To fill the void, groups such as Shinrankai, Kenshokai and Worldmate have attracted young Japanese in the competitive belief market, according to Tokyo University religion professor Susumu Shimazono. Loosely organized spirituality and New Age movements, have gained many adherents through distribution channels such as books and seminars.

    Nobutaka Inoue, a professor of religious studies at Kokugakuin University, described part of this effect in a 2003 summary of surveys on attitudes toward religion held by young Japanese as the "scenerization of traditional religion" — shrines and temples are still familiar religious establishments but are no longer visited for religious purposes.

    "In Japan, there is no dominant religion now," says Inoue, "so young people tend to establish relatively freer religious ideas. Certainly the teachings of the Raelians are quite strange for most Japanese. However, younger generations have less ability to judge whether a religious group is strange or not."

    Many of the new followings are closely affiliated with established orders. Shinnyoen is a new Buddhist movement founded by a priest from the traditional Shingon sect in 1936 that now claims some 800,000 followers across Japan. Believers venerate the historical Buddha as well as the Nirvana, and emphasize compassion while practicing sesshin meditation.