Buddhism beliefs

Religious Beliefs In Japan 2020

Kunozan Toshogu Shrine in Shizuoka, Japan.

Shintoism is a unique indigenous religion in Japan. Most of those who practice Shinto worship in shrines and kami do not belong to a truly organized Shinto organization. Folk or Shintoism not organized as no formal ritual to become a member. Currently, there are approximately 100,000 Shinto shrines and 79,000 priests in the country.


Buddhism arrived in Japan around the middle of the 16th century, having come to Japan from the Kingdom of Baekje (18 BC-660 AD) on the Korean Peninsula. Within decades, the religion gained acceptance in Japan after overcoming fierce opposition from the country’s conservative forces. It was also around this time that Japan experienced immigration from Korea, as well as the cultural influence of China, which influenced Buddhism in Japan as it was an important religion in these two country. It was for these reasons that the state of Yamato in Japan (~ 250-710 AD) began to build Buddhist temples in the capital of Nara, which led to what is today called the Nara Buddhism in Japan. By 794, the capital had moved to the city of Helan, now known as Kyoto, and it was around this time that other branches of Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Tendai Buddhism, arrived in Japan.


Japan is almost always one of the most irreligious countries in the world. This, however, is difficult to quantify in the cultures of East Asia, including Japan, due to the fact that they tend to define religion differently, have a history of more syncretic intermingling of various religious beliefs. and the fact that some see their beliefs as more custom and culture than religion. In Japan, it is also more difficult to classify due to the fact that many people incorporate practices of multiple religions into their lives and are religious without belonging to any religious organization.

Structured Shintoism

Structured Shintoism is relatively new to Japan, as for most of its history Shintoism was an unorganized popular religion. There are thirteen different sects of the Shinto sect which are organized into different groups of pure Shinto sects, Confucian sects, mountain worship sects, purification sects and faith healing sects. Currently, structured Shintoism constitutes a small minority of overall Shintoism in Japan.


Christianity first arrived in Japan in 1549, six years after Portuguese traders became active in the country. That year, three Jesuit Catholic missionaries, François Xavier, Cosme de Torres and Juan Fernández, landed in the city of Kagoshima. These missions succeeded in converting large numbers of people and over the following decades the number of Christians grew rapidly as churches were built and local lords who had accepted the religion forcing others to adopt it. Towards the end of the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyohsi (1536 / 37-1598) banned religion and in 1597 executed 26 Franciscans as a warning to take seriously his new more serious edict on the prohibition of religion. Shortly after Hideyoshi’s death, his Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) seizes power in Japan and becomes Shogun and he and his successors keep the ban on Christianity in place. In 1873, shortly after the Meiji Restoration, the ban was lifted and today around 2.3% of the Japanese population is Christian, most living in the western part of the country where the religion began to the origin in the country.

Religious beliefs in Japan

Rank Belief system Share of Japanese population
1 Folk or unorganized Shintoism 41.5%
2 Buddhism or Combined Buddhism-Shintoism 34.9%
3 Atheist or agnostic 13.3%
4 Structured Shintoism 4.0%
5 Christianity 2.3%
Popular religion, Hinduism, Jainism and other beliefs 4.0%