Decline of the Established Religions and New Primordial Religiosity in Social Engagements in Japan

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Yoshihide SAKURAI, Hokkaido University, Japan
Although priests in Japan have struggled to prevent memberships from further declining by conducting doctrinal propagation and sincere religious services in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, they were considered to be irreligious by Japanese people who deemed that priests just want to survive in the age of depopulation and individualization. On the other hand, some priests who extended their activities to social actions beyond just serving parishioners and members seem to have found out new primordial religiosity that emphasizes healing distress and grief of ordinary people.

               This case study discusses several examples such as palliative and terminal care, soup-run for homeless people, lifeline and community café, and chaplaincy by monks, which does not intend to proselytize but to provide social supports to the needy.  In conclusion, new religiosity that attracts religious persons and scholars nowadays seems to exist in the niches of life and death, social classes, and various conflicts. Therefore, secular actions that bridge these niches become religious. The boundary of religious-secular will become more obscure and interchangeable in 21st century Japan.