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Early Japanese Religion

Essay by   •  February 26, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  858 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,572 Views

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In this paper I focus on the change in the very nature of religion. How it moves to something simple and natural to a wide organized, centralized and political religion. Shinto moves from simple tribal religions to a State religion, as Buddhism from statues and flags to a centralized religion with regulations concerning the clothing on the monks. This paper will also look at the change in how the Japanese tried to make the religion their own.

Early Shinto in Japan was a tribal religion, not a state one. It mainly focused on the worshiping of ancestors and carrying on their own individual beliefs. There were no set actions involved with the religion, which would make all follows follow the religion in a specific way. As Japan started going through a difficult period, it was obvious that something was needed to unify the people. The early modern Shinto religion took advantage of this opportunity and soon Shinto became a State religion. To express great emphasis on the new state religion, Emperors were seen as Kami's and the people were to worship the Emperor. Bringing the religion to the high class and powerful, gave Shinto the Ð''power' to be imposed on the people. Although, still the people somewhat kept to their own beliefs about the early religion and was not fully pulled by the early modern Shinto of the state. Once Shinto was established as the State religion in Japan, the people would have to be registered to a Shinto shrine and they would also have to worship the Emperor. We start to see regulation in the early modern Shinto.

When comparing the early Shinto movements with the early Buddhist movements we see that there are many common things which both religious movements go through. Firstly, Buddhism was introduced to Japan as statues, flags, ritual banners and other objects from the people of Paekche in Korean. This is how the image of the Buddha first came to be installed in the hall of a palace to be worshipped by the few Paekche people and Chinese. There were no centralized or organized ways of the Buddhist religion. People would worship these objects as they please just like how early Shinto people followed their own tribal beliefs. Secondly, Buddhism when first introduced to Japan, was pushed upon the high class and powerful, (like the imperial family), just like Shinto was pushed upon the high class and powerful. Both Shinto and Buddhism seemed to be accepted only after a down period of Japan, where the people were desperate for things to get better. Thus, for the Buddhist religion, this led the opportunity for Buddhism to enter as the religion which would "combat the ravages of nationwide epidemics and to end excessive rain that threatened the agriculture" . Pray to the Buddha and things will get better. This gave the people reason to worship the Buddha, and they soon did not worry so much about upsetting the kami's from the Shinto religion. After a hard battle Buddhism became the state religion. Thirdly, just like Shinto followers were to be registered to a shine, Buddhists were to be registered to a temple. Having the followers be registered to a shine or temple brings the religion

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