Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

"New-Years' Religion" Up


Whether a sign of the bursting of Japan's economic "bubble" or not, the number of Japanese visiting shrines and temples during the new year's season this year hit an all-time (postwar) high, according to Tokyo news reports. According to an item from the National Police Agency, some 84.9 million people visited 1,346 major temples and shrines nationwide between January 1 and 3. This figure represented an increase of 2.31 million from last year. The report went on to say that twenty-nine temples and shrines (an increase of one from last year) attracted more than 500,000 visitors.

While such shrine and temple visits are considered by many Japanese to be "non-religious" matters of "culture" or "traditional custom," they are nonetheless an indispensable part of seasonal activities. In contrast, 5.38 million people visited 212 winter resorts and amusement parks during the first three days of the year, including 222,000 visitors to Tokyo Disneyland, and 260,000 skiers at the popular Naeba and Shiga Heights resorts in Niigata and Nagano Prefectures.

-- Apr 1, 1993, Norman HAVENS

Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:33:44

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University. All Rights Reserved.