RELIGION: BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

ARTICLES

Religious beliefs and worldview in premodern Japan combined local and imported bliefs and practices. These mainly included the Japanese native Shinto together with the Sino-Korean Buddhism and Daoism. Although each of these belief systems had clear characteristics, the Japanese merged them to varying degrees depending on regions, religious institutions, or individual preference.

Regional or family religious compounds, especially the large ones, combined Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and Daoist halls. Most such compounds were dominated by a temple, while shrines and halls remained secondary. In contrast, when a shrine was built to house an important or powerful god of unique significance, temples and halls were secondary to the shrine and the community of priests. The reason may lie with the inherent characteristics of each system. While Buddhism is a complex belief system with numerous texts, Shinto was originaly defined by theological simplicity. Over time, and due to Buddhist influence, Shinto priests adopted the concept of religious texts, and formatted prayers and practices. Daoism, though influencial, always remained in the shadows of Buddhism and Shinto.

Japanese warriors throughout the premodern period practiced all three religious system. Nevertheless, they did not distinguish one system from the other, instead, they viewed all three as a religious "package" that satisfied their needs in all aspects of life. There were practices and prayers for any occasion whether in battle, sickness, birthday and comming-of-age, death and natural disasters. For the individual warrior, what defined their prefered practices was their regional and familial affiliation together with his military leader's beliefs, which he had to adopt as a confirmation of acceptence of leader-subordinate relations.

In the articles published in this section I will present various religious aspects--beliefs and practices--in warrior society. The reader is encouraged to keep in mind that no single warrior practiced all the religious aspects presented in these articles.

WORK ON THE ARTICLES IS IN PROGRESS. ARTICLES WILL BE PUBLISHED PERIODICALL.