easctermpaper - Lindsay Tuchman EASC150g Yuko Konno Term...

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Lindsay Tuchman EASC150g – Yuko Konno Term Paper 11-11-10 Japanese Religions Religion has been a cause of war, divisions, new laws, and frequently peril throughout time. Every religion has its own background and beliefs, and those that follow them will oftentimes do whatever it takes to keep their personal religion going strong. In modern day Japan, religion is neither a stressor nor a huge guiding force in people’s lives. However, the religious makeup in the country did shift certain politics and cultural norms throughout the years. With religions such as Shinto, Buddhism and Christianity, Japan has had shifts in power and differences in what kind of person practices which belief system. In the past hundred or so years, Japan has gone from a political system with an emperor in charge, to a time when a government makes all the calls. During the emperor years, people followed the religion that the emperor practiced, often causing problems and corruption. Although the Japanese people are allowed to practice whichever religion they choose, three main religions, Shinto, Buddhism and Christianity have had a strong role in the changing society of Japan over the last hundred years. Shinto is one of the main religions prevalent in China from ancient times till today. What exactly is Shintoism? Shinto followers have a strong belief in the presence of kami . Kami is a spirit that, like the idea of God, is everywhere and part of everything. Not to be confused with God however, kami is a driving spiritual force in the religion of Shinto. 1 Shinto is the natural 1 1 R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, “ Religions in Japan: Impressions of an Academic Tourist,” Contemporary Religions in Japan 4:3, 1963; JSTOR, accessed 2 November, 2010, p.
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religion of Japan, stemming from the earliest days of the empire. The worship of the kami comes from love of nature and mythology. This love of nature stems from the idea that all “living” things are truly animate and therefore share the same life experience as humans. The emperor, who was considered a descendant of the sun god, was also worshipped in this same regard. 2 For this reason, Shinto was directly related to the imperial family. 3 Buddhism, unlike Shinto, is a more modern religion that came with a clearer history and scriptures. 4 Their basic ideology is tolerance and acceptance, and everything else branched from this idea. 5 Like Shintoism’s passion towards nature, Buddhists feel a strong connection to the transcendental. Transcendentalism, the idea that the spiritual transcends the physical, is “understood [by Buddhists] as unlimitedness going beyond rationality.” 6 Buddhism began with Siddhartha Gautama, now known as Buddha, meaning “Enlightened One.” In striving to achieve harmony and self-awareness, Buddha taught about the Eightfold Path towards enlightenment.
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