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And finally, take these five stories cobbled together loosely under the theme of religion:

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that an Okinawa city’s offer of free land to a Confucian temple was unconstitutional as it violated the principle of the separation of religion and state. It was the third such case in Japan in which the top court found a violation of the Constitution on this issue.
  • Is Soka Gakkai, the huge movement based on the tenets of the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist sect, in decline? In a New Year’s Big in Japan column, Mark Schreiber showcased a report that identifies nine serious crises facing the group, and suggests Soka Gakkai may be about to pivot to China, among other stories.
Nihon Daiichi Kumano Shrine in Okayama Prefecture offers more than 50 varieties of charms for different parts of the body or symptoms. | KYODO
Nihon Daiichi Kumano Shrine in Okayama Prefecture offers more than 50 varieties of charms for different parts of the body or symptoms. | KYODO
  • A “space temple” is planned for the inside of a satellite to be launched in 2023, and the holy place will be reachable from Earth, organizers said last month. Kyoto’s Daigoji Temple and a satellite developer have teamed up to launch an ultrasmall satellite that will orbit Earth. The temple will be placed inside the satellite along with a Buddha statue and mandala paintings, reports Eriko Yamakuma.
  • A pagoda that’s a national treasure at Yakushiji, a Buddhist temple listed as a World Heritage site in Nara, was partially opened to the public Monday following its first renovation in over 100 years. The East Pagoda, believed to be the only wooden structure left from when the temple was first constructed over 1,300 years ago, is available to view until Jan. 16 next year.
  • Whatever ails you, there’s probably an amulet for that at a shrine in Okayama Prefecture. Nihon Daiichi Kumano Shrine offers more than 50 charms aimed at different body parts or symptoms. Since the novel coronavirus began surging in Japan, the shrine has also given away 20,000 paper amulets to dispel the pandemic.

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