The Spiritual Japan
Recently, through meeting the Pilgrims/Prophets (as they call themselves), I’ve been thinking more about what kind of spirituality exists in Japan. With all the overtime working, people are pretty much busy with their jobs, often way too much so, but that is far from being the whole story. People can be very kind here without any form of compulsion to be so and that can only mean something is going on inside that inspires them to be so.
Japan does have a lot of it’s own religion even if you don’t see so much of it around these days (except for certain times of the year, like New Year and funerals. There’s the Kami, deities and spirits that are held to reside everywhere, in mountains and streams, in the spirits of ancestors and also around buildings (especially shrines, where they are held to live). Anything can be a Kami, including very impressive or spiritual people- it is basically a kind of clustering of the life-force into a personality- and apparently there are held to be 8,000,000 of them at the last count. Probably the adulation given to the ‘Idoru’ pop-idols is treating them as a kind of Kami, it’s all about showing reverence for something that impresses you.
This is a bit different to the western concept of a single God (itself challenged in scriptures like the Urantia Book or Mormon Books, that speak of a kind of family of God or Gods), though some say there is a kind of Head Kami with a similar role. Then there is also Buddhism, which you can see a bit of in my blog, the most famous outside Japan being ‘Zen’, but there are many other schools with their adherents, much of it being more devotional and emotional than the almost philosophical ‘purity’ of living-in-the-moment Za-Zen.
There are also a lot of Christians and now some Jewish and Muslim peoples in the mix, as Japan gets more international. Add to this the various new religions springing up such as ‘The Science of Happiness’ and bizarre cults such as the Pana-Wave people, who dress all in white to ward off evil government microwave transmissions and you have a religiously diverse archipelago with a long history of spiritual leanings. To find it practiced today, though, one needs to go more into the subcultures and the countryside, as the mainstream does it’s best to be very very secular, though what’s going on inside people’s hearts may be another matter entirely…
Posted by Starfires on February 1, 2007