Shinto gods” are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. The kami of extraordinary people are even enshrined at some shrines. The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto’s most important kami. There is no absolute right and wrong, and nobody is perfect. Shinto is an optimistic faith, as humans are thought to be fundamentally good, and evil is believed to be caused by evil spirits. Consequently, the purpose of most Shinto rituals is to keep away evil spirits by purification, prayers and offerings.People seek support from Shinto by praying at a home altar.
Buddhism originated in India. It consist of the teaching of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. Of all the branches of buddhism, the Mahayana is how Buddhism found his way into the Japanese culture. Buddhism was imported to Japan, China and Korea in the form of a present from the friendly Korean kingdom of Kuvera. It did not initially spread among the common people due to its complex theories.Nowadays about 90 million people consider themselves Buddhists in Japan. Funerals are usually carried out in a Buddhist way, and many households keep a small house altar in order to pay respect to their ancestors.
Confucianism is one of the three traditional Japanese religions besides Buddhism. According to early Japanese writings, it was introduced to Japan in the year 285 AD. Some of the most important Confucian principles are humanity, loyalty, morality and consideration on an individual and political level. Neo-Confucianism was the most important philosophy of Tokugawa Japan in government and education. Its influence on Japanese society has been intensive which is still obvious today.
Today, about one to two million Japanese are Christians,or 1% of Japan’s population. Many of them live in Western Japan where the missionaries’ activities were greatest during the 16th centuries.