What are the religions of Japan?

Have you ever wondered which religion is predominant in Japan? What religions exist in Japan? Do the Japanese believe in the Bible? In this article, we will talk about Japanese religions and some curiosities.

Talking about religions in Japan is a little confusing. At the same time that half the population claims not to have a religion, nearly 100 million inhabitants claim to be Buddhists and Shintoists. Those who deny still participate in their practices and customs.


What is Japan’s official and predominant religion?

There are divergences in knowing which is the predominant religion in Japan. Some say it is Buddhism, others say it is Shinto, but it is a complicated answer because about 80% of the Japanese practice the Shinto rituals tied to the precepts of Buddhism.

Japan’s traditional religion is the Shinto (Shintō - 神道) which literally means “Path of the gods”. Shinto incorporates spiritual practices derived from diverse Japanese, local and regional prehistoric traditions, characterized by the worship of deities that represent the forces of nature. There are more than 88,591 shinto shrines spread across Japan.


The history of Buddhism in Japan was diffused in several different periods, until it became dominant in Japan. Buddhism encompasses several traditions, beliefs and practices generally based on the teachings of Buddha. There are more than 85,439 Buddhist temples spread across Japan.

Coexistence of religions in Japan

Shinto and Buddhism coexist peacefully, most Japanese claim to belong to the 2 beliefs, including Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are often found together in the same places.

It is common for Japanese people to marry a Shinto ceremony, and have a Buddhist funeral. The Japanese do not usually visit these places regularly for worship. Both religions greatly influence the Japanese lifestyle.

A good number visit the temples and shrines most of the time for events, tourism, rituals and needs. About 100 million Japanese claim to be Shinto and 80 million Buddhists. Both religions are full of superstitions and traditions.

Religions in japan - list and curiosities
Japanese temples and tori portals

Shinto in Japan

Shinto is the term for Japan's indigenous religious beliefs and practices. Shinto has no founder, nor official scriptures, nor fixed creeds, but it has preserved its main beliefs and rituals over time.

The word Shinto came into use to distinguish Japanese indigenous beliefs from Buddhism, which were introduced in Japan in the 6th century AD Shinto (along with Buddhism) is closely linked to Japanese society and culture.


Shinto is Japan's ethnic religion that focuses on the belief that spiritual powers manifest in natural places, such as mountains, rivers and other aspects of nature, including people and animals.

What does the Shinto religion preach? - Shinto fold the harmonious relationship between man and nature.

What is the origin of Shintoism? - Originally, the shinto it had no name, doctrine or dogmas. As mentioned, it was created to distinguish itself from Buddhism. The tradition of shinto explains the source the world, Japan and the Japanese imperial family.

We recommend reading: Shinto in Japan - Japanese Religions

Religions in japan - list and curiosities
Festival in Tokyo

Buddhism in Japan

Buddhism is a religion that originated in India between the 4th and 6th century BC and is centered on the teachings of Siddartha Gautama, known posthumously as The Buddha, whose purpose is to help any living being to end the cycle of suffering (samsara) and achieve the extinction of suffering (nirvana) becoming a bodhisattva (one that reaches the nirvana).

The religion migrated out of India and spread throughout Asia. Buddhism had a major influence on the development of Japanese society. In modern times, the most popular schools of Buddhism in Japan are those in the Pure Land, Nichiren, Shingon and Zen.

Even though only 35% of the Japanese claim to be Buddhists, 90% practices Buddhism in some way, whether by visiting temples or having a related object. About 60% of the Japanese have a Butsudan (Buddhist shrine) in their homes.

We recommend reading: Buddhism in Japan - Japanese Religions

What are the religions of japan?
Buddhist statue

Christianity in Japan

Are there Christians in Japan? Many wonder if there are Christians in Japan. Yes, but only 1% out of 126 million people are Christians, a large part is from the Nagasaki region, Japan's largest Christian community.

The history of Christianity in Japan began in 1549 when a Jesuit missionary, Francisco Xavier arrived in Kagoshima accompanied by a samurai, Ansei Yajiro. Despite great opposition from Japan's leaders and Buddhists, Christianity led by the Jesuits received full support from the rulers, Oda Nobunaga and Hieyoshi Toyotomi.


But in July 1587, Generalissimo Hideyoshi, afflicted with unhealthy anger, determined that the missionaries could not remain in the country. There were persecutions, expulsions and destruction of churches.

And in 1612 Christianity is outlawed. An inquisition was instituted in 1640 by the Xogun Iemitsu Tokugawa initiating a persecution of Christians. Only in 1792 did this inquisition end and in 1873 Christianity was recognized in Japan.

There are currently approximately 3 million Christians in Japan, and nearly 10,000 churches and temples. Christianity in Japan is still considered by many Japanese to be the religion of foreigners.

One of the difficulties of the growth of Christianity in Japan, is the commitment to renounce the polytheism of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism. There are 32,036 Christian priests and pastors in Japan.


It is interesting to analyze that the fact that Japan does not have a commitment to spirituality, does not mean that people are not good. A survey conducted worldwide indicated that 57% of the Japanese claim not to have a religion, while in Brazil 92% claims to belong to a religion. And we noticed a controversial one in people's attitude and lifestyle.

Religions in japan - list and curiosities
Tea Ceremony

Other religions in Japan

Below we will see some other religions present in Japan, as well as some curiosities about them:

Shinshukyô (新宗教) 

New religions such as shinshukyô and shinkô-shukyô have emerged and have been expanding rapidly in Japan, skillfully using the mass media, marketing and advertising techniques, establishing their own educational institutions, promising miracles and material and spiritual benefits in this lifetime. , and showing a more active proselytism.


Jehovah’s Witnesses (Ehoba no shonin エホバの証人)

At Jehovah's Witnesses are Christian and currently there are 215,703 of them in Japan, and 18 groups are English-speaking. The Japanese translation of the new world, the bible used by them, is one of the only ones that has furigana reading.

Japan is known for a busy and busy lifestyle, and the population does not believe in the Bible. Still, Japan is the most dedicated country in the preaching work, where 1 in 3 do a voluntary work of dedicating at least 50 hours every month in house to house service (in Brazil, it is 1 in 10).

What are the religions of japan?
Kingdom Hall in Osaka

SGI - Soka Gakkai International

As another religion influenced by countries outside Japanese customs we have the Soka Gakkai International. THE SGI is a non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated to the United Nations since 1983 and present in 190 countries and territories.

Its fundamental objective is to promote peace and respect for human dignity. Its members carry out extensive activities in the fields of Peace, Culture and Education that include exhibitions, cultural and educational exchanges, as well as humanitarian aid worldwide.

Ryukyuan (琉球神道)

Ryukyuan is a system of indigenous beliefs in the Okinawa people and the other Ryukyu islands. While specific legends and traditions may vary slightly from place to place, the Ryukyuan religion is generally characterized by the cult of ancestors.

Unlike Shintoism where men are seen as the personification of purity, there is a group of superior women from the goddess Amamikyo.

Ainu is another indigenous belief system of the Ainu people of Hokkaido and parts of Russia's Far East. They believe that spirits or gods live in everything.

Festival in Okinawa

Judaism (Yudayakyōユダヤ教)

There are approximately 2,000 Jews in Japan. With the opening of Japan to the outside world in 1853, some Jews migrated to Japan. Amazingly, some Jews found refuge during the Second World War in Japan.

Islam (Isuramukyōイスラム教)

There are a good number of Muslims in Japan. In Japan the majority of Muslims were immigrants, an estimated 70 to 100,000 Muslims immigrated to Japan.

Confucianism (Jukyo 儒教)

Confucianism is a doctrine (or philosophical system) created by the Chinese thinker Confucius. Confucianism is considered a philosophy, social ethics, political ideology, literary tradition and a way of life.

There are many other religions and groups in Japan, but for today we are going to stick with that. If you have any data to add, you can comment below. Thanks for the comments and shares.