Memorial services held online. Zen meditation apps. Buddhist temple-led match-making services.
As the coronavirus pandemic forces institutions around the world to change the way they do things, those new endeavors are some of the ways that Buddhist groups in Japan are trying to survive. Their temples are part of the landscape: there are about 77,000, more than the number of the nation's ubiquitous convenience stores.
COVID-19 has caused further pain for Buddhist organizations already struggling in recent years due to Japan’s shrinking population and the sagging interest in religion among the young. One estimate is that temples’ total income halved in the five years to 2020. And now the virus has kept believers at home, reducing donations they make for services such as memorials for the deceased.