The Japanese people do not know the religion in systematic.
One of the reason is because education of religion is prohibited at compulsory education. This historical background is deeply involved
But, religion are closely related Japanese life and culture.
When you traveling to Japan, You'll have the opportunity to see shrine or temple . If you understand the background of Japanese religions at that time, It is possible to more interesting journey.
This is the meaning to write this article.
In Japan, there are two religions.
SHINTO: related to the SHRINE
Rustic religion from primitive times in Japan. This is the basis of the ancestor worship. The first concept is polytheism. It was worship ancestors and nature. It was as closely related to the emperor from the middle. The concept has changed before more than 1000 years. It began to treat an emperor as supernatural gradually.There is a political background.
BUDDHISM: related to the TEMPLE
Theravada Buddhism have been handed down to Japan from Korea in 552. Theravada Buddhism is popular in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Myanmar. It is difficult to explain the difference between Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhist concept. My understanding is as follows.
Theravada Buddhism: Happiness is grab in the effort and training.
Buddhism was fused with Shinto. A result of the fusion of Shinto, There is a difference about a culture that compare with other east Asian Buddhism.
Buddhism has made its own evolution in Japan.
The first change point is HEIAN era Buddhism. Various sects was born based in Mt. Hiei around Kyoto. This evolution mean a fusion of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism (esoteric).
The next evolution is KAMAKURA era Buddhism. This was involved a SAMURAI. It includ Zen spirits. Zen spirit was handed down from China.
At the time, Zen was popular among SAMURAI.
Zen is an emphasis on meditation. And importance to the practice of meditation than the fine doctrine. Teach to be able to experience the doctrine in meditation. Importance of meditation is now clear.
BTW, I am Buddhist. I like Zen of Kamakura Buddhism.
Once upon a time the Shinto and Buddhism had been fused. but, it was divided at the government policy about 200 years ago. Those religions have been divided when the power was transferred to the emperor. And this is a start of Buddhism crackdown. Culture to important Shinto than Buddhism lasted until the end of the WW2. Emperor has declared to be He is human (not a super natural) myself.
Religion many times was turned over in Japan.
crackdown of the Meiji era
The separation of church and state policy after the WW2
Prohibition of religious education in the compulsory education
This is the reason why the Japanese are spoiled to religion.
Japanese does not specifically aware of the religion.
However, Japanese are always finding the supernatural in everything.
And worship unconsciously.
Japanese is not a monotheistic religion. Japanese culture is polytheism.
This is one of the reasons for the Japanese is RELATIVISM.
Japanesebelieves that there is no absolute standard in the world. This is a big difference between the culture of monotheism.