Japan is so successfully ecumenical, the various religions of Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam happily living side by side, that one is tempted to doubt Japanese belief in any of them.

Adding to this perhaps doubtful impression is the fact that religions here have been assigned various nonreligious tasks. Shinto has authority over most marriages and the comings of age of the resultant children, Christianity seems to have been awarded domain over exotic foreign-style marriages, and Buddhism has been given death.

Whether this last is true or not, the popular impression is that Buddhism takes on the responsibilities of both funeral rites and notions about the afterlife. Quoted is a reply to a question as to a family's Buddhist sectarian affiliation: "I don't know. No one in our household has died yet."