Just a friendly survey of the gods

Regarding Amy Chavez’s June 1 column, “Everyone’s own path to enlightenment“: I am always fascinated by Chavez’s essays and look forward to the next one each Saturday. In the June 1 column, by my interpretation, she wants to express her opinion that Buddhism is easy to access and very generous to its adherents.

Although it is said that the Japanese are Buddhist, to be sure, a large number of people are hardly aware of this fact. They believe in a lot of gods besides the Buddha. When they face an entrance examination, for example, some students suddenly become adherents of the god of academic achievement, and when they want to have a child, they go to the god of pregnancy.

Every city has small statues called o-jizou-san, which are said to enshrine small gods that protect people’s health and their safety in traffic. Old people still say that each thing should have its own god and that “You should treat everything you can touch carefully!”

In my opinion, Buddhism in Japan is tolerant enough for belief in these “other” gods so that when people attend a funeral or ritual, they soon get accustomed to those conducted Buddhist-style.

Maybe Chavez wants to express the friendliness of such gods in her own way. (The initial letter for a Japanese “god” is usually not a capital letter in Romaji.) Part of Chavez’s explanation may offend some people; however, the article as a whole suits me.

shuichi john watanabe
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.