Buddhism Dying in Japan?

I have often lamented that many Australians think of Christianity as a “hatch, match and dispatch” religion when there is so much more to the way of Jesus. So I was interested to read this article about the decline of funerary Buddhism in Japan:

When it comes to funerals, though, the Japanese have traditionally been inflexibly Buddhist – so much so that Buddhism in Japan is often called “funeral Buddhism,” a reference to the religion’s former near-monopoly on the elaborate, and lucrative, ceremonies surrounding deaths and memorial services.

But that expression also describes a religion that, by appearing to cater more to the needs of the dead than to those of the living, is losing its standing in Japanese society.

For more see Buddhism sees its role in Japanese culture start to decline.

5 thoughts on “Buddhism Dying in Japan?

  1. “the average cost of a funeral, excluding the cemetery plot, was $21,500, of which $5,100 covered services performed by a Buddhist priest”
    At those prices no wonder funeral Buddhism is on the decline.


  2. Sun Warrior, I would be extremely hesitant to draw conclusions like that from this article. The article is a commentary on Buddhism in Japan in particular, not religion in Japan in general.


  3. Eric, yes, if you are only mildly committed or have an each way bet with Shintoism (which I understand is quite common in Japan) then I am not surprised fees like that would prompt some searching for alternative options.
    It makes me wonder how fees compare in countries like America and Australia, between Christian celebrants, secular celebrants and alternative religion celebrants. I am suspecting too cheap in comparison to secular options could be just as problematic as too expensive ,in some ways.


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