By Skyy Genies
In Geek in Japan in the Religion and Philosophy chapter, I read about how “most Japanese don’t believe in one specific religion but combine aspects of several religions in their daily lives, often unaware which one they’re following.” I find this as a huge contrast to American perspectives on religion. In Japanese society, religious flexibility and freedom is normal, where here in the United States our religious institutions and practices are more rigid. For an example, in our cultural conversation, one of my classmates, Talia, spoke about how uncomfortable an Islamic person may feel if they walked into a Christian institution and vice versa. I think this may be due to the religions sprouting from similar ideas/locations in Japan rather than here in the United States where the religions practiced are very strict and came from many different places. Which is expected given the homogeneity of the Japanese society and the diversity of American society.
Additionally, the values in America and Japan differ, which influences the prominence of religion in everyday life. As Eshita Sensei said, she didn’t know how much her daily activities were rooted in religion until she learned about religion in college. Everything (almost) has a religious aspect in Japan. This may seem true at first glance in America; however, we separate our religion and social, business relationships. Religion can’t be discussed/taught in school. This idea is also tied to the changes in America today, where many Americans are non-religious and questioning what they once believed. This is very different from Japan where respect and avoiding confrontation is an automatic standard. It’s just so interesting to me!