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Religion of the Japanese People

          The principal religions in Japan are Shinto, Buddhism, and Christianity. If you add up all the numbers of the Japanese who claim to have faith in Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity or other religions, the total will be more than double the Japanese population. It may sound strange to hear this, but there is a practical reason. Japanese have long been quite tolerant of various religions. Statistics show that few Japanese are deeply devoted to a specific religion and that, in fact, many profess to have no interest in religion at all. 

           A number of reasons can be given for this lack of religious feeling. For one thing, The Japanese people are by nature optimistic and concerned mainly about worldly affairs. Inhabitants of a country blessed with the beauty of nature and a moderate four-season climate, the Japanese have for many generations led an easygoing existence free from the threat of extreme natural disasters and the invasion of enemies. Perhaps because of this, they have not developed any deep religious yearning. Further, Shintoism, the religion of Japan from time untold, is polytheistic, and because of this the Japanese people have traditionally been tolerant of all religious sects. The birth and marriage ceremonies of most Japanese are Shinto or Christian, while funerals are conducted according to Buddhist rites. The same person will pay his respects to a Shinto shrine at the beginning of the year, visit a Buddhist temple during the Festival of the Souls in summer, and celebrate Christmas at the end of the year.