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What is the main religion in Japan?


Japan is a country steeped in tradition and culture. One of the most significant aspects of Japanese culture is their religion. The main religion in Japan is Shintoism, which is a native religion. However, Buddhism is also widely practiced in Japan. In this article, we will explore the main religion in Japan and its origins, beliefs, rituals, and practices.

Origins of Shintoism

Shintoism originated in Japan and is considered to be one of the oldest religions in the world. It has its roots in animism, which is the belief that everything in nature has a soul. Shintoism was officially recognized as a religion during the Meiji period (1868-1912). However, it was not until after World War II that Shintoism was separated from the state and became a private religion.

Japanese Snack Box

Beliefs of Shintoism

Shintoism has no set of dogmatic beliefs or commandments. Instead, it focuses on the worship of kami, which are spirits or deities that are believed to inhabit natural objects such as trees, mountains, and rivers. Shintoists believe that everything in nature is sacred and deserves respect.

Rituals and Practices

Shintoism has various rituals and practices that are carried out throughout the year. One of the most important rituals is the purification ceremony known as misogi. This involves cleansing oneself both physically and spiritually by standing under a waterfall or pouring cold water over oneself.

Shrines and Temples

Shinto shrines are found all over Japan and are considered to be the home of the kami. They are often located in natural surroundings such as forests or on mountainsides. In contrast, Buddhist temples are more ornate and elaborate than shrines and serve as places of worship for Buddhists.

Buddhism in Japan

Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China and Korea during the 6th century. Unlike Shintoism, Buddhism has a set of teachings known as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Buddhism emphasizes meditation and self-reflection as a means to attain enlightenment.

Beliefs of Buddhism

Buddhists believe in the concept of karma, which states that every action has consequences for both this life and future incarnations. They also believe in reincarnation, where after death, one’s soul is reborn into another body.

Rituals and Practices

Buddhists have various practices such as meditation, chanting sutras (scriptures), offering food to monks, and visiting temples or shrines.

Interactions between Shintoism and Buddhism

Although Shintoism and Buddhism are separate religions, they have had a significant impact on each other throughout history. Many Japanese people practice both religions simultaneously, which is known as syncretism.

Other Religions in Japan

Apart from Shintoism and Buddhism, other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are also present in Japan. However, they account for less than 1% of the population.


In conclusion, Shintoism is the main religion in Japan with its roots traced back to animism. It emphasizes the worship of kami spirits found in natural objects such as trees, mountains, and rivers. Buddhism is also widely practiced in Japan with its focus on meditation and self-reflection leading to enlightenment. Despite being separate religions, they have had significant interactions throughout history.


1) “Shinto.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web.
2) “Buddhism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web.
3) “Religion in Japan.” – Japan Travel Guide. N.p., n.d. Web.
4) “Shrines & Temples.” JNTO – Japan National Tourism Organization. N.p., n.d. Web.
5) “Misogi.” | Free Online Encyclopedia of Every… N.p., n.d. Web.

What are the 3 main religions in Japan?

The religious practices of Japan are composed of several significant parts, which include Shinto, the earliest religion in Japan, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity has had a minimal influence on Japan’s religious traditions.

Who is God in Shinto?

Kami are the sacred spirits worshipped in Shinto beliefs, taking the form of important elements in life such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers, and fertility.

What is Japan’s biggest religion?

Shinto is a religion that is mainly observed in Japan, with roughly 100,000 public shrines in the country. However, there are also practitioners of Shinto in other parts of the world. In terms of number of followers, Shinto is the largest religion in Japan, with Buddhism being the second largest.

What is the main religion in Japan today?

The prevalent religion in Japan is Shintoism, which emphasizes ritualistic practices and worship at shrines. In 2019, approximately 70 percent of the Japanese population participated in Shintoism, followed closely by Buddhism at over 67 percent.

Is Christianity allowed in Japan?

At the close of the 1800s, Japan made the decision to resume international relations. The practice of fumie was ended in Nagasaki in 1858, and in 1873, Japan lifted its longstanding ban on Christianity, which had been instituted more than 200 years prior.

What do Shinto believe?

Shinto is a religion that emphasizes the importance of harmony and purity in all aspects of life. Humans are believed to be inherently good, and any evil that exists is attributed to malevolent spirits. The goal of Shinto is to offer prayers and offerings to the kami, or spirits, in order to ward off evil and maintain purity.

Shintoism and Japanese Culture

Shintoism has had a significant impact on Japanese culture, influencing various aspects of daily life such as art, literature, and architecture. For example, traditional Japanese gardens often incorporate elements of Shintoism, such as the use of rocks and water to represent natural spirits.

In addition, many festivals and celebrations in Japan have roots in Shintoism. For example, New Year’s Day is a significant holiday in Japan and is celebrated with various rituals and traditions that have their roots in Shintoism.

Furthermore, Shintoism has also influenced the way Japanese people view death and the afterlife. In Shintoism, death is seen as a natural part of the cycle of life, and ancestors are believed to continue to watch over their descendants. This belief has led to the development of ancestral worship in Japan.

Buddhism and Japanese Culture

Similar to Shintoism, Buddhism has also had a significant impact on Japanese culture. It has influenced various aspects of art, literature, and architecture in Japan. For example, Japanese Zen gardens often incorporate elements of Buddhism, such as stone statues of Buddha or Zen rock gardens.

Moreover, Buddhism has influenced the way Japanese people approach life and death. In Buddhism, life is seen as impermanent, and death is viewed as a natural part of the cycle of life. This belief has led to the development of various funeral customs in Japan that involve Buddhist rituals and practices.

Additionally, Buddhism has also influenced Japanese martial arts such as karate and judo. Many martial arts schools incorporate Buddhist principles such as self-discipline and mindfulness into their teachings.


Overall, both Shintoism and Buddhism have played significant roles in shaping Japanese culture and society. While they have distinct beliefs and practices, they have coexisted in Japan for centuries, influencing each other and becoming intertwined with various aspects of daily life.

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