What's new

Japanese Religion - Nothing could be harder...

Hanada Tattsu

後輩
12 Aug 2003
88
2
18
Okay, for the past few weeks, I have been researching Japanese religion, and here is what I have hypothesized. Please read and correct, to see if I got anything wrong, and please answer my questions below. Arigatou!

Okay, the majority of the Japanese population are non-religious. This does not mean that they are Atheists (like many Chinese) and have no religion, rather they do not spend a lot of time on religion. However, 84% of the Japanese adhere to two religions, Shinto and Buddhism.
Shinto has many variants. There is Imperial Shinto, which is only practiced by the Emperor and his family, there is Jinja Shinto (Shrine Shinto) which is the traditional form of Shinto and the largest (I'm not sure about this), and also Sect Shinto which itself has 13 variants.
Most Japanese Buddhists are of the Mahayana sect. However, the sub-sect is the problem.

I know that the first two types of Japanese Buddhism were Shingon and Tendai, both brought over from Korea and China, respectively. I know that there were also many forms of Buddhism that orignated in Nara, but a small minority practices this. Then, when the Emperor lost his power and the Hojo Regency in Kamakura gained power, I know that some new Buddhists sects originated (one of my question below) mainly Pure Land, Zen, and Nichiren.

I know Zen was brought from China and it has two main sub-sects. However, today, I read that only a short percentage of people practice Zen, mainly the rich.

Nichiren is also practiced widely, but it is very controversial and it has links to Soka Gakkai, the Komeito Party, and many traced it to the extremist group that attacked a Tokyo subway via gas in 1995.

Pure Land Buddhism, or Jodo, is confusing. I read that this was practiced by the majority, but I also read that Nichiren was. Also, I read about Jodo Shin Shu, or True Pure Land Buddhism, and this has gotten me even more confused.

Please check this, and if I have anything wrong tell me please. Then, please answer these loose ends that I have below. ^^ Thanks!

1: What Shinto sect is practiced by the majority of the population in Japan today?

2: What Buddhist sect is practiced by the majority of the population in Japan today?

3: Are the Buddhist sects that orignated under the Kamakura Bakufu in the 12th and 13th centuries (Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren) sects of Tendai or Shingon Buddhism? Or are they just sects of Mahayana Buddhism?

4: Is Soka Gakkai a sect of Nichiren?

5: What's the Japanese name for Pure Land Buddhism? What about True Pure Land?

5: Main question. Please answer, this is the most important one. Are Pure Land Buddhism (Jodo) and True Pure Land Buddhism (Jodo ShinShu) the same thing?

6: Main question. Please answer, one of the most important ones. Is True Pure Land Buddhism (Shin Shu) a sect of Pure Land Buddhism? or vice versa?

7: Main, please answer. Which sect, Pure Land Buddhism, or True Pure Land Buddhism, is practiced by the majority of the population in Japan, by the most people, and is most influential and popular?

8: Does Nichiren have sects? If so, which one is practiced by the majority?

9: Does Jinja Shinto itself have sects? If so, which one is practiced by most people?

10: Is Shinto itself a sect of a larger religion? I know it has sects, but is Shinto a sect of a larger religion?

11: I know Buddhism has sects, but is it a sect of a larger religion? Also, is Buddhism a sect of Hinduism? 'Cause I know it began as a effort to reform Hinduism, but is Buddhism a sect of Hinduism?

12. I heard that Jodo Shin-shu has some sects, Nishi/Honpa and another one. Which one is practiced more by the majority of the population? Also, what does the Japanese population use more, Nishi, or Honpa, kind of how they use Nihon more than Nippon.

13. Are Jodo-shu and Jodo Shin-shu sects of Jodo? If so, how does that go? Is Jodo Shin-shu a sect of Jodo, or what's the correct answer?
Thanks for your patience!
 
Last edited:
Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
I know Zen was brought from China and it has two main sub-sects. However, today, I read that only a short percentage of people practice Zen, mainly the rich.

This has almost always been the case. We assume that because so much of what we see in Japanese art and design hints at Zen, that it must have been a hot property at some point. Pop culture doesn't help with its Zen and marital arts etc stuff. Zen is great if you have the money to do nothing but sit around and meditate while others cook your food and walk the dog. Amida and faith based sects have always been much more popular with the common farmer in the field. To be "saved" through Zen you gotta spend a lot of time in meditation (with no promise of success); time you then don't have to get the rice harvest in on-time. Amida will simply save you through faith, and everyone will have a full belly.

Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
Are the Buddhist sects that orignated under the Kamakura Bakufu in the 12th and 13th centuries (Zen, Pure Land, Nichiren) sects of Tendai or Shingon Buddhism? Or are they just sects of Mahayana Buddhism?

Neither Zen nor Pure Land originated in Japan. Cha'n (Zen) and the Pure Land schools of thought, among others, were imported and changed, in sometimes dramatic ways, from China and India (Korea was more of a jumping off point than philosophical developer). It is safe to call the 12th/13th developments Japanese flavored sects of Mahayana Buddhism, though most influental monks in Japan (including Nichiren) have spent some time studying at Hiezan or Koya-san

Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
Main question. Please answer, this is the most important one. Are Pure Land Buddhism (Jodo) and True Pure Land Buddhism (Jodo ShinShu) the same thing?

No, they are not. Both trust in the nembutsu (reciting "namu amida butsu") as an expression of faith in the vows and saving grace of Amida, but without going into a lot of detail they are quite different. First on that list is while Jodo-shu repeats the nembutsu as often as possible, Jodo-shinshu holds that saying it once is enough if you really mean it. A simplified version, but I'm trying to keep it short.

Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
Main question. Please answer, one of the most important ones. Is True Pure Land Buddhism (Shin Shu) a sect of Pure Land Buddhism? or vice versa?

Depends a lot on who you ask and how you define "sect." It is safer to say they are under the umbrella of the Pure Land school of thought, much like Baptist and Anglicans are under the umbrella of Protestantism.

Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
10: Is Shinto itself a sect of a larger religion? I know it has sects, but is Shinto a sect of a larger religion?

No, Shinto is considered the native religion of Japan though changes were brought about under the pressures of competing with Buddhism.

Originally posted by Hanada Tattsu
I know Buddhism has sects,... but is Buddhism a sect of Hinduism?

No, Buddhism is considered a religion in its own right.

I probably missed a few things or didn't word somthing right. Someone will probably work out the kinks for me. Hope the other site helped too.
 
Back
Top Bottom