In this journal, I’d like to talk about our visit to church and religion in Japan. Our group went to the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalist Church. Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion characterized by a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. It doesn’t have a particular creed, but has seven Principles, which they hold as strong values and moral guides. The seven Principles include respect for every person, acceptance of one another, and spiritual growth. Therefore, Unitarian Universalists welcome everyone, regardless of belief, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, age, and the like. It was formed in 1961, which is relatively new, and serves churches mostly in the United States.
When we visited the church, the first thing we noticed is a rainbow flag, which means they accept LGBTQ people. As this shows, there is a bathroom, where all gender can use, in addition to normal bathrooms. People there are all very welcoming and friendly, and interested in us, so we enjoyed talking with them. The guest speaker was a person who is a passionate observer of the natural world and rooted in Buddhism, and gave us a speech about three monkeys, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, and finding a tree which you can talk to and rest under anytime so that no hatred or evil occurs in your mind. I was impressed by these stories and a bit surprised that they are not limited to one specific religion but universal. Then we all meditated following the instruction such as listening to your inner self and bringing those who you care about and love to mind. I felt there was a moment when all of us come together and moved by the magic of meditation.
In Japan, most people are considered to be atheists, though they usually turn to rituals in birth, marriage and death, and take part in spiritual festivals throughout the year. Religion in Japan mainly consists of Buddhism and Shintoism, but they are only frameworks of tradition and ceremony, rather than actual belief systems. Thus few people make it a point to visit the church or shrine in their daily lives, but I’ve come to realize that it is very essential to have habits of reaffirming some creed or belief. Visiting the church made me realize the importance of always having compassion and good thoughts in mind. After coming back to Japan, I’d like to visit the shrine or church, and think about the relationship between myself and spiritual belief.