Do practising Japanese Buddhists marry across sects ?


Do practising Japanese Buddhists marry across sects ?

by Kegyan




There are about 12 mainstream sects of Buddhism in Japan, some with quite different belief systems. For example the followers of Jodo-shin have no monks, do not need to meditate or pray or basically do anything except just utter once the name of Amida Buddha in their lifetime. It’s the most widespread form of Buddhism in Japan because it’s easy and appeals to the masses. At the opposite end are the more serious and dedicated and meditative Zen Rinzai and Soto sects, traditionally associated with the samurai class.

I have been wondering if practising Japanese traditionally marry within their own Buddhist sect or if they have always been open to intermarriages ? Nowadays it probably doesn’t matter much as few people care about Buddhism any more. But what about priest families ? Would the daughter of a Zen priest be allowed to marry the son of a rival Jodo or Jodo-shin priest ? Has there been TV drama based on such situations ? Or is it really 100% a non-issue ?

My answer:

Yes they do.

Nowadays, most Japanese are not very religious. They are superstitious but not religious.

Maybe there are those who are very religious and who’s faith forbids inter-marriage (I’m not aware of any but maybe some so-called new religions do) 

In general, though, as you might be aware, Buddhism in Japan is sadly relegated to the cult of the ancestors and funeral rites. 

Once the head of family dies, the oldest son’s household has to get a Butsudan and it is often the wife who has to pray morning and evening to the deceased. In this regard, the husband’s religion is the main one in the house and will dictate which butsudan they have to buy. (Most people don’t even know what sect they belong to…take a survey, you’ll see)

The wife often will adopt the sect of the husband, thus abandoning her own. 

Of course there might be exceptions…





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Aug 06, 2010


by: Anonymous

Hi. I would like to correct something I saw in this writing. Jodo shinshu followers do not recite nembutsu once and that will be it! Although some ignorant priests are responsible for spreading this kind of misunderstandings all over Japan. The nembutsu that is recited is a nembutsu of gratitude after having been granted lasting happiness by Amida Buddha.

Just wanted to clarify this point. Thank you.

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