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Wednesday, 23rd July 2008
In General Japan News,

Buddhism 'could die out' in Japan

The ancient religion of Buddhism may be dying out in Japan, it has been claimed.

While the religion once enjoyed a near-monopoly on many aspects of Japanese life, it is now often referred to by many as "funeral Buddhism", reports the New York Times.

Ryoko Mori, the head priest at the 700-year-old Zuikoji Temple in northern Japan, said that many people felt Buddhism did not meet their spiritual needs.

"In Islam or Christianity, they hold sermons on spiritual matters. But in Japan nowadays, very few Buddhist priests do that," he said, adding: "If Japanese Buddhism doesn't act now, it will die out."

Not only has the membership of many temples fallen but, according to the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs, the number of temples has also fallen from 86,586 in 2000 to 85,994 in 2006.

Buddhism is believed to have arrived in Japan from Korea when a political delegation brought gifts, including a bronze Buddha, for the emperor.

Following the end of the second world war, Buddhism grew in popularity in the country and been exported around the world.