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Nature, Deities and Buddhas

Last update November 22, 2019


Hello from Japan, a Country of Harmony!

me Hi! My name is Chiharu, a small town resident in Kyoto. Seeing international holidaymakers here and there almost outnumbering the locals, I’m thrilled and dazzled (Where am I? Is it really Japan?).

Anyway, as a humble Kyotonian, let me give a hearty welcome to visitors and everyone who may fancy the city and Japan.

There are many ways to enjoy Japan: walking through beautiful old streets clad in kimono, climbing Mt. Fuji for a glorious sunrise, tasting a variety of sashimi like a native connoisseur or sipping traditional dry sake like a samurai. But one thing common to any town in Japan is: wherever you go, you can’t miss Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and natural landscapes featuring gently-sloped mountains and peacefully-rustling streams.

Indeed, they are just there; without contradicting or competing for one another. Once there were times when Buddhism was oppressed, but those dark days are long over, thanks to the nation’s high level of religious tolerance (or indifference). Today they coexist and even interact via loose connections — in the backdrop of natural beauty. An ancient belief holds that divinities (or kami) dwelled in nature — including mountains, old trees, rocks, and so on, while the Buddhist cosmos has embraced them as its protectors.

These three elements of nature, Shintoism, and Buddhism form a gently-bonded, inseparable harmony. Therefore, people have no qualms in pilgrimaging both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and enjoying graceful natural landscapes they offer. I believe this concordance leads to particular Japanese spirituality, related to what Japan is all about. Without this, there would be no Japanese hi-tech, no sophisticated manufacturing, no Toyota, no Sony, all of which are the result of smartly tuning different factors into one.

With all that said, this section will spotlight something about Japanese nature, deities, and buddhas.