The majority of Japanese adhere to Shintoism, a traditional Japanese religion focusing on rituals and worship at shrines. In 2017, around 70 percent of the total population of Japan participated in Shinto practices. Closely behind is Buddhism, with more than 69 percent of the population adhering to its practices. Most Japanese thus practice both religions.
The original Shinto
Shintoism adherents worship spirits or gods at shrines, often publicly, through rituals and traditions. Shintoism is deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture and way of life, but the number of followers has been decreasing over the past years, as has the number of Japanese who are adhering to any kind of religion. Tradition seems to have to make way for modern attitudes and choices – still the number of people who call themselves Shinto adherents is quite high, even if they do not actively practice it.
Everything zen in Buddhism
While Shintoism seems to become a thing of the past, the number of Buddhists, on the other hand, has been stable over the last decade, and if anything, has only slightly decreased. Japan is, in fact, among the countries with the largest Buddhist communities, right after China, of course, and Thailand. This might be due to Buddhism being able to adapt much easier to modern times and its adherents’ everyday lives, as well as a better PR machine – Buddhism is, after all, also quite popular in the Western world.