Exhibition: Shinto Gods and Buddhist Deities

One aspect of the Orient that Occidentals often find baffling is the ability of most Orientals to believe in several gods and religions at once, a sort of religious 'Doublethink.' The typical Japanese person will have a Shinto shrine in his home, but have a ‘Christian–style’ wedding and a Buddhist funeral, for example.

This open–minded or contradictory approach also spills over into the main Oriental religions themselves, as this exhibition at the Nara National Museum makes clear with its exploration of syncretism in Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism. Syncretism refers to a union that includes differences, allowing them to coexist in a symbiotic relationship. With sutra scrolls, statues, and other artefacts, the exhibition shows the easy interchange of artistic styles and even beliefs between these two flexible religious ideologies. Meanwhile, back in the other half of Eurasia, Christianity and Islam were 'exchanging ideas' in the time-honoured manner of cutting each other’s heads off.
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