Why are Shinto Shrines Surrounded by Trees and Forests?
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   If you frequent Japanese Shinto shrines, you may have noticed that they are commonly placed in forests or are at least filled with many trees or other objects of nature. This is because the Shinto religion believes in “kami,” … Read More

What are Koma-inu?
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                Imagine you are going out to dinner at your favorite Chinese or Japanese restaurant. What is the first thing you see as you approach the entrance? Most commonly, you’ll find a pair of statues flanking each side of … Read More

What are Torii Gates?
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              In front of every Japanese Shinto shrine there lay a gate made of two vertical posts connected by two posts on top. These gates are called “torii gates” and they are one of the defining characteristics of a Shinto … Read More

The Difference Between Rinzai and Soto Zen
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This past week I had the opportunity to attempt zazen meditation at both a Rinzai-zen school and a Soto-zen school. Since the differences between these two schools is highly debated, I will explain only what I, an English-speaking foreigner, could … Read More

Are Japanese People Religious?
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    A question that many foreigners to Japan seem to ask is, “Are Japanese people religious?” This is a very fascinating question, considering that most Japanese people practice two religions, rather than just one or none at all. To many … Read More

What are “Kami?”
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  One of the most prevalent religions in Japan is the Shinto religion. For Americans, understanding this religion can be confusing due to its vast differences from Christianity, the most prevalent religion in the United States. The Shinto religion is focused … Read More

What is the Difference between Shrines and Temples?
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  There approximately 95,000 shrines and 86,000 temples in Japan. So, what is the difference between the two? The short answer is that shrines are for the Shinto religion and temples are for the Buddhist religion, though many Japanese people practice … Read More

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