Japan: Religion

IMG_3116We visited two shrines while in Japan.  It was heartbreaking to watch the depravity of their “religion.” 

At the first temple in Osakasahn, sellers have capitalized on the fact that people take a certain path to get there, so it has become a buzzing marketplace.  Tent after tent lined the walkway, selling everything from sunglasses to Samurai swords.  (Verses of Jesus overthrowing tables in the Temple flooded my mind as I strolled through.) 

The Meji Shrine felt more like a state park.  The mile path was beautiful and wooded with bridges and waterfalls.  (I felt closer to MY God there just being in nature.)   There were prayers written in kanji (Japanese symbols) to read.  People could write prayers on wooden plaques then hang them around a tree that was considered spiritual.  (Most of the prayers asked for prosperity, which is a sign of spiritual favor.)  We walked under several massive wooden pillars that symbolized a level of cleansing prior to reaching the actual temple.

They’re big on cleansing.  People purchase incense, which gives off pleasant fragrances to their “god” and helps “cleanse” you externally.  There were big fountains with ladles (for lack of a better term) where you could sip the special water to help “cleanse” you internally. 

Available at both temples were fortunes for purchase.  People buy a piece of paper that predicts something about their future, which (to me) sounds a lot like giving a whirl to a Magic 8-Ball.

Once inside the temple, people fling money into a metal offering canister.  The “ping” sound created when coins hit the receptacle, along with their hand-clapping after, helps to wake their “god.”  Then they offer prayers, often about the good fortune they just purchased.

Their “god” is asleep.  They pay money to bend the “god’s” ear.  There is no personal relationship. They have no hope, other than working insane hours for financial prosperity.  It’s no wonder they have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. 

Perhaps even more tragic is that people in Japan are completely numb to it.  One of the missionary kids casually said, “I’m often late for school because they have to stop the train to clean blood off of it.”  That’s what they call it when someone jumps in front of the train.  It happens so often that they have become calloused to the fact that a life was lost.  The focus has become that people are late to their destination … and the practicality that they then had to clean the train.

Lord, I pray that the people of Japan would find hope in You, the One true God…

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~ by Serena on August 13, 2009.

2 Responses to “Japan: Religion”

  1. Serena,
    Thank you for sharing with us… letting us have a little glimpse of what you saw and experienced. What a picture… “prayers” hanging from a tree, while the train is cleaned…

  2. Sooooo much to share. It was quite the experience, that’s for sure! I’ll let you know when I’m in Upland next… I’d love to catch up! 🙂

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