In secular Japan, what draws so many to temples and shrines? Stamp collecting and tradition

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Religion

TOKYO (AP) — Almost weekly Momo Nomura makes time to visit Shinto shrines. She performs the prescribed rituals — cleansing her hands, ringing a bell, bowing and clapping. But her main purpose is getting a Goshuin, a stamp with elegant calligraphy that shrines provide for a fee to certify the visit.She loves the stamps, which she began collecting during the pandemic. One with blue hydrangeas got her started.
“Because of the Goshuin, shrines have become closer to me, but I don’t consider this a religious activity,” Nomura said after getting her stamp and taking selfies at Sakura Jingu, a western Tokyo shrine established in 1882 as a minority Shinto sect focused on traditional values.
Nomura, who posts about her hobby on social media as Goshuin Girl, says she enjoys the stamp designs, and shrine visits allow a moment of reflection and a change of pace from her busy life as a graphic designer and entrepreneur. Differences of religious sects are not an issue, she says.
“It’s a mindfulness kind of thing for me,” Nomura said. “I don’t consider myself religious.”
About 70% of people in Japan have similar nonreligious feelings, according to surveys. Their responses reflect a long history of pragmatism about traditional religions, which often serve more as connections to family and community than as theological guides, as in the West.
Nomura, who graduated from a Christian university in Tokyo, says her parents also are not religious. Sti …

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