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Buddhism is indeed one of the oldest religions of the world, found around the 6th century. Buddha’s birth and his belief in seeking what reality is and what lies beyond it gave rise to Buddhism. It is necessary to understand the basic beliefs of Buddhism. Anyone can be a Buddhist, as long as they are ready to accept their beliefs.

The basic beliefs of Buddhism revolve around Buddhism and four noble truths. Buddha was the one who brought the concept of Three Universal Truths and Four Noble Truths that he went on to preach to people for the coming forty-five years of his life.

Buddha: A Basic Introduction

Buddha is often hailed as the founder of Buddhism. Buddhism is said to have begun around the 6th century. Around 2500 years, Siddhartha Gautama, the prince of Lumbini, started to question his life at the palace. Being the rich novelty that he is, Siddhartha never came into touch with the reality of the world. This eventually became a problem, for he did not know the reality of the world.

On the other hand, one day during his visit to the nearby village, he came in touch with reality. He came across the four painful sights: a sick man, a dead man, an old man and a monk. These eventually changed his life. The monk’s sight inspired Gautama to leave his life as a prince and become a wandering man. He set out on his journey to seek reality and answers to questions like ‘Why must people suffer?’ ‘What is the main cause of suffering?’

According to Buddhist symbols, to find answers to these questions, Siddhartha set out and tried to find answers to these questions. He spent his time in religious practices like fasting, meditation, and praying. All these were meant for helping him understand the basic truths of life.

However, he gained Enlightenment or realization under a Pipal tree in Bodh Gaya, India. Furthermore, it was here that he gained the name of Buddha for achieving deep meditation. He was bestowed with the title of Buddha, which translates to the Enlightened One.

Types of Buddhism

There are three types of Buddhism, that are also known as the three schools of Buddhism. It is necessary for the one practising Buddhism’s basic beliefs to achieve reality and seek the Truth.

Here are the three schools of Buddhism:

Theravada Buddhism

The Theravada Buddhism is accepted across Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.

Theravada Buddhism is one of the earliest schools of Buddhism. All the texts are focused on Pali, the language which Buddha spoke. People following Theravada Buddhism lead a monastic life and thus, work towards achieving Enlightenment. They further work on getting liberation.

All the central texts of Theravada Buddhism were focused on the life and teachings of Buddha.

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism is prevalent across Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, China, and Singapore.

Mahayana Buddhism accepts Sanskrit as its prime language. Like Theravada Buddhism, people following Mahayana Buddhism need to follow a monastic life. The followers need to focus on seeking liberation or freedom from their sentiments. Similarly, compassion and wisdom are the core formulas or doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism.

Mahayana Buddhism follows a strict monastic Buddhist life. It has its core or touches to India. Many believe that the early texts of Mahayana Buddhism were released in Sanskrit in South India. However, the later texts were composed in Northern India. Nonetheless, the modern texts do not confine themselves to monastic life.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is also known as the Vajrayana School of Buddhism. It is native to Tibet and followed extensively across Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, parts of Northern India, Russia, and Bhutan.

Vajrayana Buddhism is original to Tibet and is focused on the teachings of Buddha. It focuses on the importance of Vajra, the thunderbolt. Vajrayana Buddhism follows a list of ceremonies or rituals which use Tantra. People following Vajrayana Buddhism suggest that one should follow the practices thoroughly to achieve Enlightenment. Furthermore, it focuses on the importance of laying down practitioners.

Vajrayana Buddhism has around six languages.

These three schools of Buddhism are focused on the different teachings of Buddha. However, there are various aspects of Buddhism as well as Nirvana Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. The different forms of Buddhism are inspired by several religions and philosophies like Bon and Taoism.

Buddhism Basic Beliefs

The basic beliefs of Buddhism revolve around different aspects which need to be embraced thoroughly. It is necessary to implement them and understand each aspect thoroughly.

1. Dharma

The teachings of Buddha are referred to as “Dharma.” His Dharma focused on the importance of generosity, compassion, kindness, and patience. Everyone following the basic beliefs of Buddhism should be focused on following Dharma.

Every Buddhist should live by the five moral teachings, as suggested by Buddha. These include

  • Abstaining from killing the living things
  • Avoiding Sexual misconduct
  • Refrain from Lying
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol.
  • Not taking what is not given.

In Buddhism, Dharma refers to “cosmic law and order” as brought into existence by Buddha. According to Buddhist Philippine, Dhamma or Dharma is also the term used for ‘phenomena.’ Dharma is the term of Dhamma, and in the East, it is known as Buddha-Dharma. Dharma comprises the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The status of Dharma, however, varies depending on the Buddhist traditions. While it was stated that Dharma belongs to the basic teachings of Buddha, there are more. The upcoming traditions and interpretations from the different schools of Buddhism also form a part of the different Buddha schools developed as per the Buddha’s teachings. Dharma also stands for the ultimate reality or Truth.

Dharma is also hailed to be one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism. All Buddhists need to seek refuge, which eventually paves the way for everlasting happiness.

Dharma is also an important concept in Chan Buddhism, which stands for authentic doctrine, Bodhi and understanding.

In Theravada Buddhism, Dhamma is achieved through three phases: Practising, Realising and Learning. In Pali, these are referred to as

  • Pariyatti: Learning.
  • Paripatti: Bringing theory into practice.
  • Pativedha: When one moves beyond the Dharma and experiences the Truth.

2. The Four Noble Truths

Around 2500 years ago, Buddha said, “I teach suffering, its origin, cessation and path. That’s all I teach.”

The Four Noble Truths are an essential part of Budha’s teaching. Buddha says that it is through the four principles that Buddha came to understand reality. He achieved this practice by sitting into deep meditation while he was under the Bodhi tree.

Because of his Four Noble Truths, Buddha is often said or compared to a physician. Within the first two Noble Truths, Buddha diagnosed the problem, which is suffering and identified its cause.

However, the Third Noble Truth is about realization, which is the cure. The Fourth Noble Truth is focused on the Eightfold Path and the cure of how one sets out to free himself from suffering. According to Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths include

3. Suffering Dukkha

This is the First Noble Truth, and according to Buddha, dukkha comes in various forms. The first three sights that Buddha saw on his way, which were significant signs of suffering include death, old age, and sickness.

However, Buddha believed that life is not ideal and is dynamic. Often, we do not get what we expect because life fails to live up to our expectations. Human beings are greedy who have desires and cravings. These desires are meant to offer us pleasure, but none of these pleasures lasts for a long time, and even if they do, they tend to get monotonous after a time period.

Dukkha, however, is neither seen as an optimistic approach nor as a pessimistic one. The other noble truths further contain solutions about the sufferings and how to deal with them.

Origin of the suffering

The second noble Truth talks about the origin of the dukkha. Buddha suggests that all our sufferings are ingrained in our worries. The three roots of evils are the major cause of our sufferings. Once we get over these sufferings, we will get over everything else.

The three roots of evil which are the main cause of suffering include

Greed

Ignorance

Hatred

Cessation of suffering or Nirodha

Cessation of suffering is also known as Nirodha, a major part of the Third Noble Truth. Buddha suggests that one can get over the sufferings only by liberating oneself from attachment.

The Third Noble Truth focuses on the ability or necessity of liberation. Estrangement further refers to disenchantment.

Path of Cessation of Suffering

The fourth noble Truth is referred to as the path of cessation of magha. Magga contains the set of principles also known as the Eightfold Path.

In Buddhism, the Eightfold Path is also known as the Middle way. According to the Eightfold Path, one must avoid asceticism and indulgence. These factors did not help Buddha achieve Enlightenment, and hence, the Fourth Noble Truth does not acknowledge them.

4. The Noble Eight Fold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path is considered the path to liberation, which is further grouped into three essential elements: moral conduct, wisdom, and mental discipline.

According to Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path include

  • Right Understanding (Samma Ditthi)
  • Right Thought (Samma Sankappa)
  • Right Speech (Samma Vaca)
  • Right action (Samma kammanta)
  • Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva)
  • Right Effort (Samma Vayama)
  • Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati)
  • Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi)

4.3 Right Speech

Right Speech is an essential part of ethical conduct. According to Buddhism, right speech refers to abstention from

  • Telling lies
  • Using abusive and harsh languages
  • Lying
  • Backbiting and talking about the hatred of other people.

According to Buddhism, one should be careful while speaking and talk carefully in front of people. If anyone cannot say something useful at that moment, in that situation, they should maintain silence.

4.4 Right action

Right action refers to the process of promoting honorable and moral conduct. One should not kill, indulge in illegitimate sexual intercourse, or steal. It is advisable as the basic beliefs of Buddhism to follow an honorable way of life.

4.5 Right Livelihood

According to Buddhism, everyone should follow the right livelihood. This, however, means to make an honest living. Buddhism rejects the idea of war and the usage of lethal weapons and unjust livelihood.

4.6 Right effort

Putting in the right effort will play an important role in preventing evil and attracting negative energies. It is necessary to develop the right habits and put in the right efforts to maintain a wholesome state of mind. These good qualities are already existent in people, but it is necessary to accept these accordingly.

4.7 Right mindfulness

The good activities of the body, positive thoughts, and feelings will eventually pave the way for right mindfulness. It is necessary to adopt these feelings accordingly to gain massive advantages.

4.8 Right concentration

One of the main factors of mental discipline is right concentration which paves the way for the four stages of Dhyana. It is necessary to train the mind and get away from all negative thoughts to adopt Dhyana and observe concentration. It helps to maintain pure thoughts and promotes awareness.

Mental discipline is also an essential part of the Eightfold Path consisting of three characteristics: right effort, right concentration and right mindfulness.

The Three Fires

Buddha taught a lot about suffering through his Fire Sermon. He delivered speeches on how one should stay focused to get out of the way and avoid any negative thoughts.

The three fires or poisons are the major reason why everyone is trapped in the samsara. Once one is able to break free from the cycle can only attain freedom.

According to Buddhism, these tree fires (ignorance, attachment, and aversion) are the main reason why everyone is trapped in samsara. The three fires in the wheel of life are shown as a pig, bird, and snake respective. As the wheel of life grows, the three poisons contribute to the building of karma. It is the karma that gives birth to the different realms of samsara.

The Three Jewels of Buddhism

The three jewels of Buddhism are also referred to as threefold refuge or the Tri-Ratna. The Tri-Ratna is made up of Buddha, The Dharma and the Sangha.

It follows one of the Buddhist sayings, “I go to the Buddha for refuge, I go to the Doctrine for refuge, I go to the Order for refuge.”

The meaning of Three Jewels includes

Buddha

He is the Awakened or the Enlightened One. How one sees Buddha is completely dependent on their own interpretation. One can either see the Shakyamukhi, the historical Buddha or Buddha as nature. It is how one adopts the basic beliefs of Buddhism, that Buddha reflects others.

Dharma

It stands for the Teachings of Buddha.

Sangha

The Sangha stands for the community. The community should consist of people who have attained Enlightenment. Hence, they will be able to help people attain Enlightenment, who are new to this field.


The Cycle of ReBirth

Buddhists strongly believe in the cycle of birth and rebirth. Buddhism believes that through one’s actions in the current life, their actions and birth of the coming birth are determined.

One who achieves salvation or nirvana will be free from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is necessary to determine the birth and move towards it accordingly. One who moves away from the cycle is the one who suffers the most. The cycle of birth and rebirth is essential and needs to be considered thoroughly. In Buddhism, this cycle is critical.

One who follows good karma will eventually be freed from the cycle of birth and rebirth.

Main practices of Buddhism

Meditation and observance have often found its space in the Buddhist practise sphere. If you’re following Buddhism’s basic beliefs, you need to lay your life by the five basic moral principles.

The five foundations laid down, such as following the monastic life, refraining from killing, stealing, acting impure, speaking falsely and drinking intoxicants, are some of Buddhism’s major practises. Not every Buddhist follows the monastic approach. It is necessary to adopt the other five precepts as well. These include

  • Avoiding to eat at incorrect times,
  • Avoid the usage of garlands, perfumes and bodily adornments.
  • Avoiding to sleep in wide beds.
  • Avoid receiving money.
  • Avoid using perfumes.

Buddhists need to follow Pratimoksha or certain rules and regulations to move to the right path. The monastic order or sangha needs to live by the three jewels and also practice all the teachings laid down by Buddha. The lay practices that Buddhists need to follow worshipping Stupas which further gave rise to various ritualistic and devotional practices as laid down by Buddhism.

Buddhist texts

The Buddhist texts are a religious part of the Buddhist tradition. The Buddhist texts were a part of the Buddhist monastics which were passed down orally and then written down in manuscripts during the Indo-Aryan period. These Buddhist texts were further translated into Tibetan and Chinese to propagate the teachings around.

Buddhist texts are divided into different categories. These are further written down in different methods, languages, and writing methods. They are written and memorized to copy texts. The Tripitaka of the Pali Canon, Mahayana Sutras, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead is Buddhism’s major texts. These are the three major non-canonical texts of Buddhism. The Pali Canon translates to “the word of Buddha” which contains all information about Buddha’s discourses. The Pali Canon also consists part of the teachings of Buddha’s pupils.

Most Important Buddhism Sites

The monasteries and temples are essential for Buddhists. Bodh Gaya, where Buddha achieved Enlightenment are the main Buddhist sites. The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya houses the Bodhi Tree where Buddha achieved Enlightenment and became Gautama Buddha.

It was in Sarnath that Buddha delivered his first Sermon. It was here that he taught the Four Noble Truths, Middle Way and Noble Eightfold Path. Sarnath was initially known as Isipathana.

Lumbini is also one of the main sites for Buddhists as it is the birthplace of Buddha.

Kusinagara is the place where Gautama Buddha died and achieved Parinirvana.

Buddhism principles - The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya India
The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India

The eight main sites of pilgrimage of Buddhists include

Buddhist Holidays

The major Buddhist Holidays celebrated by Buddhists celebrated across the world include

Facts about Buddhism

Some of the prominent facts about Buddhism include the following

  • Buddhists do not believe in Creator God or the Supreme Being.
  • Buddhism follows the extensive and intensive religion, which has two main branches.
  • Buddhism lays emphasis on mindfulness and meditation. Many consider Buddhism to be a type of psychology rather than religion.
  • Buddhism is hailed as the fourth largest religion in the world, consisting of 360 million followers.
  • Buddhism came into existence around 400BC, and historical importance was given to Buddha.
  • Buddha laid down the foundation through Sanghas, and the teachings were preserved in the present day.
  • Buddhists believe in the concept of rebirth and reincarnation without losing the central value.

Love is a very pure and pious concept in Buddhism. Buddhism is divided into different categories, and one believes that they can achieve happiness only by practicing true love. True happiness is available in the form of happiness. If one follows the concept of your heart, they can become one with true happiness. 

Love, according to Buddhism, has the power to heal any problems. Buddha suggests that four different forms of love eventually contribute to true love development. One who practices the four pillars become closer not only to himself but also to the universe.

What is love?

Love, according to Buddhism, is one actual reality that has the power to build ourselves. If we love our true hearts, we will become close to reality and the universe. Love is one of those powers that can heal any suffering. If you want to feel close to God, you need to believe in the power of love. 

However, Buddhism doesn’t follow the concept of one eternal being or the Supreme power. Even Buddha isn’t the God in Buddhism; He is just worshipped as the divine teacher. Buddha’s teachings are the principles or driving forces in Buddhism.

Love in Buddhism

Do Buddhists believe in relationships?

Buddhists strongly believe in relationships. Love, according to Buddhism, is a very different concept from love according to the western world. Moreover, it is a lot concerned with relationships, real friendships, and benevolence. 

As far as Marriage is concerned, there is no obligation for Marriage in Buddhism. According to Buddhists, Marriage is a choice that people make by themselves. As long as two people are happy to bond, they can live with the other. Nonetheless, there are not many teachings related to marriage ceremonies.

Buddhists believe that marriage is a close celebration or blessing that should be held with immediate members. But, there are no hard rules attached to it, and there are no religious elements either.

According to the Venerable Dhammananda Maha Nyaka Thera, “If a man can find a suitable and understanding wife and a woman can find a suitable and understanding husband, both are fortunate indeed.”

Marriage, according to Buddhism, is a civil concept that legally unites two people. Buddhist monks are invited only to bless the wedding, but they can’t conduct the ceremony. Hence, marriage will be hugely influenced depending on the country the couple lives in. It is more of a civil content than religion in Buddhism.

According to many Buddhists, the primary purpose of marriage is

          • Bear children
          • Unite with the partners and have respect for each other
          • Create a sound and peaceful environment for the family

Although Marriage is a choice, many Buddhist monks avoid the option of marrying and remain celibate throughout their life. They live in the monastic community so that they can focus on enlightenment. At the same time, the monks don’t need to spend their entire life in the monastery. They can choose to re-enter mainstream society if they wish to.

4 Elements of Love according to Buddha

Buddha preached four essential elements of love, which, when engraved properly, can help in overall upliftment. Mentioned below are the four elements of love, according to Buddha.

1. Maitri

Maitri refers to kindness or benevolence. It does not mean to make only one happy but also the effort to complete so. Even when you intend to make someone happy, you might end up making them unhappy by your way of loving. 

According to Buddhism, one can develop Maitri by having a deeper understanding of their partner. If you know the person you love, you will love them better and harness the relationship. Through Maitri, one should put in the efforts to understand your loved one’s desire and ambitions.

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.”- Buddha.

It is advisable to take some time and invest it in yourself and observing your partner. You should pay close attention to what they say, what their ambitions and dreams are. If you understand your partner well, you will be able to harness a healthy and meaningful relationship.

2. Karuna

Karuna or compassion is the second essential element of love, according to Buddhism. Karuna refers to the desire and ability to erase the pain. Anyone who loves their partner should understand their true pain. Buddhism believes that one will ease others’ pain only if they understand their true sufferings.

One should meditate and observe their partners understand what grieves them. If you know the main reasons behind your partner’s sufferings, you will be able to support and help them grow.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.“- Buddha.

To understand what pains your partner the most, you should communicate with them openly. If they speak to you directly, you will be able to help them. Open communication is the key to a healthy relationship, and it will also help strengthen the relationship with your partner over time.

3. Mudita

Mudita translates to joy or happiness. It is one of the most significant elements out of the four elements of love. Mudita is one of those elements that act as a connection between the other elements. If one does not experience happiness and joy in the relationship, they aren’t experiencing true life. If one does not mean happiness in love, it means that love is lost. According to Buddhism, love should be fulfilling and brings joy in the life of those who experience it.

People in love tend to experience joy. Moreover, when we are happy, our love grows strong, and happiness is the sign of true love. If one does not experience happiness, love will no longer exist.

There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.“- Buddha.

You should practice things that bring joy to your life, whether as individuals or together. When you start experiencing happiness in your life, you will share the same with your loved one. As long as we find joy in ourselves, we will experience love in its true form.

4. Upeksha

Upeksha translates to freedom. If love is true, one should feel the freedom and relationship within themselves. Every relationship provides individuals with the opportunity to grow, and it also helps them develop.

Moreover, when you seek freedom, you will have some time on your own and be knowledgeable about safety. Furthermore, freedom in relationships should also allow one to be comfortable while sharing ideas without the fear of being dejected or judged. If you want your relationship to last, you need to maintain freedom within the relationship.

The price to freedom is simply choosing to be.“- Buddha.

You can practice freedom by staying or spending some time away from your partner. You don’t always need to check up on each other. You should be able to do things individually that make you happy.

Moreover, when you come back together, you will have many things to discuss with each other. This will also help you know your partner closely once you know what makes them happy. Maintaining freedom within your relationships provides you with the opportunity to grow.

Love in zen buddhism

Personal fulfilment in relationships

Buddha always talked about the importance of maintaining individuality in relationships. Buddha always spoke of love and life as the major focus of his teachings. He always taught that one could achieve personal fulfillment by growing.

One should practice these four elements thoroughly to eventually grow in life to find better focus in their lives. Maintaining individuality means spending time with oneself. It is not necessary to spend time with your partner always. When you work on personal fulfillment, you will be able to grow along with your partner.

Love is a gift of one’s innermost soul to another so both can be whole.“- Buddha.

It is only when one works on personal fulfillment that they can grow with their partners.

How to achieve happiness in relationships?

Buddhism is one of those religions that have various liberal views about romantic relationships. Buddhism teaches the idea of unconditional love. It suggests that to be happy, a person should be detached from others. Being attached to someone can only bring suffering and hardships in one’s life.

To achieve happiness in a relationship, one should not be completely dependent on the partner. It is only by practicing self-awareness and love for the partner that one can achieve true happiness. No one in this world is perfect, and hence, a person should accept it.

To achieve happiness in a relationship, it is necessary to understand that nobody’s perfect and stop putting the partners on the pedestal of being perfect. The person should love their partners unconditionally. According to Buddhism, one should be ready to accept the flaws and imperfections in the partner.

According to Buddhism, love should be of its true form and accepting the partner as they are. One should be ready to accept changes in the partner. Personal fulfillment in relationships can be brought about only if one understands the situations and provides their partner with the space they need.

Does Marriage important for Buddhists?

According to the Buddhist worldview, marriage isn’t an essential concept but a civil ceremony. It is a choice that the couples make. There are no religious ceremonies held for Marriage in Buddhism, like other religions. The monks are called upon to bless the couple, but they do not provide the religious content.

In Buddhism, Marriage is more of a social contract that has no religious importance. Marriage is a choice that many Buddhists make, while many of them reject it. It is a choice that Buddhists take up to show commitment towards each other. Nonetheless, several Buddhists believe that Marriage is not a necessary condition for maintaining a loving relationship.

Hence, there are no marriage ceremonies in Buddhism. Marriage celebrations in Buddhism vary depending on the culture and community the couple belongs to. While many Buddhist marriages are held at home only in Buddhist monks, many of them are also performed at the local temple belonging to the other faith.

what does buddha say about love

How to maintain relationships according to Buddhism?

The key to a happy relationship, according to Buddhism, is to maintain the space. You can always find a deserving partner. If you want to maintain a happy relationship, you need to accept that you are enough, and you must admit or accept the things you cannot change. 

Buddha once said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserves your love and affection.”

One who doesn’t honour himself will not be honored by the partner either. Before seeking a partner, you need to seek yourself. For a relationship to be fulfilling and complete, one must be complete and recognise the importance. Incomplete people can only create chaos, while complete people make up a happy relationship.

Trust is the key to a happy relationship, according to Buddhism. When you are in a relationship, you need to trust your partner. Rather than letting jealousy and self-insecurity flow around, one should be ready to let go of negative feelings and accept the trust. If you trust your partner, love will exist.

However, if anyone is unwilling to be with you, it is better to accept the fact and let them go. You are enough for yourself as a complete person.

It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.“- Buddha.

Love, according to Buddhism, follows the idea of doing. In Buddhism, it is believed that love conquers all. However, loving someone isn’t enough because one needs to dive in and take actions. It would help if you worked towards creating a strong base or foundation with your partner. If you help your partner grow, you will be able to build trust, respect and familiarity.

If you want a successful relationship with your partner, you need to put their needs before yours.

Is Divorce allowed in Buddhism?

Divorce is a very new concept in Buddhism. However, unlike other religions, Buddhism is a liberal religion that holds acceptance about the relationship. Divorce isn’t a stigma in Buddhism. 

According to Buddhists, if the couple isn’t happy with each other and only causes suffering, they are better separate. Buddhism is against the concept of suffering, and hence, Divorce is acceptable only if it is causing suffering to both parties. According to Buddhism, Divorce can be a compassionate choice.

Divorce, however, is not unethical as it is not a religious problem. Buddhists experiencing problems within the Marriage should go to temples and monasteries and seek refuge and advice from monks and nuns.

Love for other people according to Buddhism

Buddhism always advises following compassion and love for other people. Love, according to Buddhism, is the ability to feel compassion for others. The compassion, however, amounts to respect for other people.

According to Buddhism, love should come from the same place as that of faith. It should be focused on upliftment and wishing for the betterment of others. According to Buddhism, love is unending, and one can find true love within themselves only when they are true to themselves. If one loves himself, he will be able to love others too.

Love, according to Buddhism, should have no jealousy for others. One should always be happy with the other person’s well-being. Hence, love should be balanced and equal so that it doesn’t disrupt personal harmony. If one follows personal harmony and equality, they will not be dependent. Being dependent on your partner is the key to suffering.

The teachings on love given by the Buddha are clear, scientific, and applicable… Love, compassion, joy, and equanimity are the very nature of an enlightened person. They are the four aspects of true love within ourselves and within everyone and everything.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddhism practices and love

Buddhism practices love by practicing compassion for others. Buddhists believe that practicing love is the key to spiritual liberation. The four kinds of love include having compassion, promoting love and kindness, practicing joy, and maintaining freedom.

As Buddhism believes, it is necessary to harvest love in your life and cultivate it accordingly. Whenever we talk to each other, we must practice love and be careful of our speech while living with others. It is not a tough task, and the only way to start over is to practice it. 

The manifestation of love will only grow when we begin to encounter real feelings. Practicing loving-kindness can bring about significant changes in our life. Buddhists follow the sayings of Buddha suggesting that every small practice is essential towards self-love- “with dripping drops of water, the water jug is filled.”

What is the Buddhist word for love?

The Buddhist word for love is Maitri. In Pali, Maitri translates to Metta. Maitri further translates to loving-kindness, amity, good will, benevolence, and active interest in our activities. Maitri is an essential pillar of the four Brahma Viharas or the four principles of love as per Buddhism. However, in the Theravada school of Buddhism, it stands among the ten important Paramis.

What do Buddhists say about soulmates?

According to Buddhism, you have met your soulmate when you meet somebody, and you feel calm. Love according to Buddhism is something that makes you feel unique and calm and no anxious. If you suffer from any kind of agitation while coming in contact with your partner, then he/she isn’t the one. 

Furthermore, Buddhism also believes that we are born with different lives. And throughout these lifetimes, our relationships just move from one to another. So, when you meet your soulmate, you will know it because they will bring a sense of welcoming feeling or calmness with them which you may or may not have experienced earlier.

Can a Buddhist monk fall in love?

Buddhist monks are humans like any of us, and hence, it is possible for them to fall in love. Nonetheless, Buddhist monks choose to not marry and remain celibate while living a monastic life in the community. They avoid getting into relationships and practice detachment to get enlightenment.

However, they don’t need to spend their entire life in a monastery. If a monk chooses to re-enter the mainstream world, they can live a normal life too, after spending some time as a monk in the monastery.

Buddhism is hailed to be one of the major religions in China. However, it is necessary to note that Buddhism in China is very much different from that of the world. It follows other theories and is supposed to have various propagators. 

 

Many people believe that Buddhism in China entered through the Silk Road. It was under the rule of the Han Dynasty that Buddhism started in China. Furthermore, it is believed that the trade and travel relations of Yuezhi contributed to the monks coming to China. The monks entered China via the Silk Road and eventually started preaching their religion. As time passed, Buddhism in China caught up with the pace. 

 

The beginning of Buddhism in China

As stated above, Buddhism began in China owing to the trade relations between China and India. Buddhism entered the ways of China around 2000 years ago. It was from India that Buddhism spread in China under the Han Dynasty. The West of the 1st Century BCE traders contributed to Buddhism’s introduction to China via the Silk Road. 

By the early 5th century, Buddhism was already established in South China.  The Han Dynasty of China followed Confucian theory. It was based mostly on ethics. According to Confucianism, one must follow harmony and maintain social order within the society. However, Buddhism was focused on pursuing monastic life.

As Buddhism’s teachings suggest, one should follow reality when following a monastic life and seek what lies beyond it. However, Confucian China was not willing to accept Buddhism. But, it gradually did evolve and found its place. 

Despite the resistance from Confucian China, Buddhism did pick up the pace. By the end of the 2nd century, Buddhism did find its existence in China, with monks coming in with moving time. The monks from Gandhara and Parthian monks started to translate the Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit to Chinese. These translations were the key to the rise of the popularity of Buddhism in China. 

Buddhism in China history
Big Buddha Temple, a Buddhist temple complex in Chengde, Hebei province, China

Buddhism in ancient China

Chinese Buddhism is hailed to be one of the oldest types. The foreign religious history of China has Buddhism as its first occurring one. However, Buddhism in China is different from the general notion.

It is said that Chinese Buddhism is made of a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. Both of them teach the concept of achieving enlightenment in one lifetime. 

According to ancient Chinese history, Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism have received a mixed reaction from China rulers. Various scriptures suggest that many rulers went to the extent of eradicating the religion. Under the Han Dynasty rule, Buddhism merged with that of Taoism and folk religion and, hence, was adopted by many people around. 

The Silk Road from Xinjiang and Tea Horse Road via Yunnan was hailed to be existing land routes. After the decline of the Han Dynasty, the dynasties that came in started or adopted their religions. These religions further differentiated from the Buddhists across South Asia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. 

Owing to the acceptance and difference, various schools of Buddhism came into existence in China over the years. Hence, these teachings of Chinese Buddhism were eventually adopted, which further gave rise to modern-day Buddhism in China. 

The connection between Buddhism and Daoism

For everyone confused, Taoism is also referred to as Daoism. Taoism or Daoism is one of the oldest religions of China. Furthermore, it is more like a philosophical tradition that came into existence in China around 550BC. Lao Tzu is the propagator or founder of the idea.

However, Buddhism is a religion of ancient India brought into existence by Siddhartha Gautama and was found around the 6th century BCE. Buddhism is often referred to as the offshoot of Hinduism. 

 

Both Daoism and Buddhism were found around the same time and are based on the concept of breaking free from the samsara or achieving Nirvana. Buddhism doesn’t follow the concept of God. Instead, it believes in the fact that one must seek its reality and what lies behind it. Buddhists believe that one can get over the cycle of birth-rebirth only with their good deeds. 

Unlike Buddhism, Taoism focuses on worshipping deities. Although Lao Tzu isn’t a God, the Taoists worship deities and suggest that it’s the universe’s order. Hence, Taoists believe in achieving the balance between themselves and the universe around them. It is believed that once they reach balance, they can get immortality. The concept of evil is non-existent in Taoism. 

Tao is considered to be the supreme power. In Buddhism and Taoism, people believe in the concept of reincarnation. However, they differ in the fact that Buddhism believes that one must follow good deeds to ensure better birth or achieving Nirvana.

On the other hand, Taoism believes that the soul is eternal, and with time, the soul will become one with the Tao. However, Buddhists deny God’s existence and do not believe in the concept of Life after death. 

Both Taoism and Buddhism are focused on the concept of visiting shrines to offer prayer to deities. 

 

Taoism and Buddhism in China believe in the concept of Life after death. Nonetheless, Taoism believes that the soul exists after death and may experience the new Life. However, Buddhism neglects the idea of the existence of the soul. This difference is a further difference in the two branches of Buddhism- Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. 

The Connection of Buddhism and Confucianism

Confucianism in China was not at all welcoming about Buddhism in China. Even today’s time, both religions tend to maintain a symbiotic relationship, where one does not exist without the other. 

Confucianism in China is predominant across Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia. It is more of relocation and hierarchical diffusion. According to the Confucianists, people are responsible for making their fate. Only when one is dedicated and loyal to themselves can they truly achieve the higher power in their Life.

Confucius brought the philosophy of Confucianism. They help you determine how one lives a peaceful and faithful life. It is the ethnic religion of China that hasn’t traveled from anywhere. Hence, many people in China still follow the concept of Confucianism. 

Buddhism, on the other hand, is a religion that traveled to China from India. Buddhism began in Northern India and eventually spread to other parts of the world. Unlike many religions, Buddhism is neither polytheistic nor monotheistic. Over the years, with the increase in popularity, Buddhism became widespread in Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and China. 

 

Even in today’s time, Confucianism and Buddhism in China hold up their extreme popularity. Many people prefer practicing these religions in conjunction with each other. However, Buddhism is a universal religion, while Confucianism is ethnic religion. It is for this reason, Buddhism is whole-heartedly accepted. 

Chinese Buddhism
Buddha statue and Chinese deities painting on wall

Buddhism in China today

The lexicon of Buddhism has made it one of the most popular religions. However, it is necessary to determine that Buddhism has also become one of China’s most prominent “businesses” with time. 

While many kings have worked on depleting and bringing down Buddhism, it can be beneficial since Buddhism has become a business, as people are resorting to spiritual Life. The combination of communism and capitalism has played an essential role in bringing meaning to Life for the Chinese people. The Communist Party in China has a very welcoming attitude regarding Buddhism. 

Nonetheless, the Chinese Communist Party has bestowed faith. Yet, raising funds for restoring temples regarding Buddhism is pretty risky. It is necessary to bring better religious clarity into the religion. The Chinese constitution is focused on upholding religious integrity. However, the involvement of political parties may limit the virtue of  religion. 

There’s a constant struggle about the campaigning of the religion. As per the survey, the People’s Republic of China has a population of 1.3 billion. Further surveys have shown that around 20% of this population follows Buddhism. Hence, it can be stated that Buddhism is very much found in China, with Chinese people integrating it into their religious beliefs. 

How is Buddhism practiced in China?

One of the most common misconceptions revolves around how Buddhism is practiced in China. Many people believe that Buddhism in China is similar to that of India and other places. Nonetheless, it is necessary to determine that it is not. Buddhism in China differs from that around the world.

Chinese follow Buddhism along with Taoism. Chinese Buddhists believe in paying homage to their gods and ancestors. In China, the Buddhists pray to Taoist gods as well as Buddha. Hence, the practice of offering tribute to the ancestors is done in the belief that they might need and want the help.

The annual Qingming Festival of China is one of the most celebrated ones. Huge ceremonies and festivals are held during this time. 

In China, one needs to take refuge in Buddha to be freed of the sins. Hence, they must follow the path of Dhamma, meditation, monasticism. The cultivation of Paramitas is widely observed in Chinese Buddhism. Furthermore, they believe in the concept of offering prayers at the grotto, temple, and pagoda. 

Most people in China in today’s world follow the concept of Taoism and Buddhism. However, as far as Buddhism is concerned, they follow the concept of Mahayana Buddhism. Over the years, Buddhism has only flourished in China. Nonetheless, it is being anticipated that Buddhism is gradually in a declining phase. Furthermore, the coming in of political party influences affects the rise of Buddhism in China. 

How did Buddhism influence Chinese culture?

Taoism and Confucianism are the widely accepted religions in China. Moreover, they were native to the country. The coming in of Buddhism seemed to have been challenged. However, Buddhism in China adopted ideologies from each of them to ensure proper development.

Buddhism’s introduction in China was made when it was more of a philosophy and not a religion. Hence, Taoism was on the rise as well. The integration between them eventually led to the development and transformed the Chinese culture, though.

Therefore, the adoption of these two religions finally gave way to the development of support. Over 2000 years, Buddhism shaped the morality, arts, philosophy, and literature of the region.

Hence, apart from Daoism and Confucianism, Buddhism became a widely accepted culture and a significant part of the three pillars. It had a significant impact on philosophy, religious beliefs, and art and architecture. 

 

Buddhism was a foreign religion whose integration was more of a challenging issue. Nonetheless, the integration did seem to be successful as it helped people resort to meditation. It shaped the religious belief of the people and helped everyone reach proper conclusions. Buddhism in China allowed bringing revolutions that weren’t necessarily observed in China. 

Buddhism in China timeline
Buddhist monument in Jiuhuashan, China

Why was Buddhism appealing to the Chinese?

As stated above, Buddhism in China wasn’t appealing to the people at all. Instead, they were looking out for ways to get rid of it. While it traveled to China via the Silk Road, the residents and kings weren’t accepting religion. However, the institutionalized concept of personal Gods can be one of the potential reasons for Buddhism’s spread in China. 

One of the main reasons why Buddhism eventually became appealing to the Chinese was its compatibility with other existing theories and religious beliefs in China. Many people in China initially viewed Buddhism as a suspicious foreign philosophy. At that time, Taoism wasn’t developed to religion and was a mere philosophy.

Confucianism was existing as a religion. Hence, Buddhism’s beliefs were in contradiction with Confucianism, which is why many people disregarded it. 

 

Chinese people weren’t ready to adopt monkhood, one of the fundamental principles for people following Buddhism. However, people failed to understand that to accept Buddhism. One shouldn’t necessarily be following monkhood.

The teachings were to be followed irrespective of background and status. Accordingly, you could follow Buddhism even when you were married without disrespecting or breaking the laws. 

 

Buddhism was one of those religions in China that were preached and practiced irrespective of one’s caste. Furthermore, it preached the idea of breaking free from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It is stated that this cycle of freedom would eventually help to achieve Nirvana or salvation. It promoted the idea of Buddhahood for people belonging to the lower strata of the society too. 

Another reason why Buddhism eventually became accepted in China was that it was not monotheistic. Unlike many other religions, Buddhism did not promote the idea of following only one religion or path.

Moreover, it did not disrespect the religious ideals of other faiths too. These were the fundamental principles for Taoism also. Since Buddhism and Taoism are so intertwined, the Buddhists were allowed to enter Taoists’ temples and worship their deities. 

What are the differences between Buddhism in China and India/Tibet/Thailand?

Chinese Buddhism is very different from that existent in South East Asia. Buddhism in Southeast Asia results from the development via two traditions, such as Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism. 

Mahayana Buddhism is widely accepted in China and India. However, in China, Buddhism is followed along with the pre-existing religions such as Confucianism and Taoism. Nonetheless, Theravada Buddhism is widely accepted in South East Asian countries like Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand. The Chinese influence in Vietnam eventually contributed to the popularity of Mahayana Buddhism.

As stated, Mahayana Buddhism is followed across Chinese communities of Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The Chinese diaspora has played an essential role in the spread of Mahayana Buddhism across other places. 

 

Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism are, however, two different practices. Although it is focused on breaking from the cycle of birth-rebirth, the rules are different. 

The Buddhism practices include Hinayana and Mahayana practices. Nonetheless, Tibetan Buddhism is focused on Vajrayana practices. Tibetan Buddhism brings forth a widespread and diverse practice, so many Chinese people prefer Tibetan Buddhism practices. Furthermore, Tibetan rituals are straightforward to follow. 

 

The difference between Indian, Tibetan, Thai Buddhism, and Chinese Buddhism lies in its enlightenment approaches. The Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism further play an essential role in describing the difference. 

How many Buddhists are in China?

Currently, there are around 250 million practitioners of Buddhism in China. China is said to have around the largest population of Buddhists, as per the reports. Buddhism is the dominant religion across different countries like Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Around 18.2% of the population in China follow Buddhism. 

Is Buddhism allowed in China today?

One of the most commonly asked questions is if Buddhism is allowed in China. Yes, it is along with other religions. 

 

China’s government officially recognizes five religions such as Taoism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, and Protestantism. However, Chinese folk religion and Confucianism have been integrated in Chinese cultural inheritance. 

How many Buddhist temples are there in China?

There are several Buddhist temples in China. It is spread across Fujian, Beijing, and Anhui. There isn’t an exact number of Buddhist temples in China, for there are many. As Buddhism is one of the main religions in China, there are several of them. 

 

Some of the significant Buddhist temples in China include the following.

          • Huacheng Temple
          • Big Bell Temple or the Juesheng Temple
          • Zhihua Temple
          • Wanshou Temple
          • Guangji Temple
          • Jietai Temple
          • Nanshan Temple
          • Dizang Temple
          • Temple of the Six Banyan Trees
          • White Horse Temple
          • Iron Pagoda
          • Youguo Temple
          • Chi Lin Nunnery
          • Tung Lin Kok Yuen
          • Hanshan Temple
          • Kun Iam Temple
          • Four Gates Pagoda
          • Pagoda of Fogong Temple
          • Palyul
          • Foguang Temple

Who is Budai in Chinese?

Budai is one of the most popular monks in China. Also, commonly referred to as Hotei in Japanese and Budai in Chinese, he is a semi-historical monk. The semi-historical monk is also known as Maitreya Buddha, belonging to Chan Buddhism. 

Budai has been introduced in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon. As per history, Budai lived in the Wuyue Kingdom for the 10th century. Budai is also referred to as Fat Buddha or the Laughing Buddha. He was a zen monk. 

Budai is represented as a bold man with a big tummy, a smiling face, and large ears. He wears a simple robe and holds prayer beads, and has a large sack. 

 

Budai is the messenger of peace and generosity. He is the one who speaks of wisdom and kindness. The Laughing Buddha is a sign of positivity. It is said that when one rubs the belly of the Laughing Buddha, good luck comes his way and also brings him prosperity.

Buddhism in China today
Chinese Buddhist Monks Ceremony Hangzhou

Was China a Hindu Country?

China has never been a Hindu country and not even close to it. There was some influence because of the proximity to India. The presence of Hinduism in China has probably existed in the past but in a minimal way. Regarding the ancient period, Arthur Walley wrote in his translation to Tao Te Ching: “I see no reason to doubt, that the ‘holy mountain-men’ (sheng-hsien) described by Lieh Tzu are Indian Rishi; and when we read in Chuang Tzu of certain Taoists who practiced movements very similar to the asanas of Hindu yoga, it is at least a possibility that some knowledge of the yoga technique which these Rishi used had also drifted into China.

Also, archeological evidence from temples discovered in southern China indicates a small Hindu community in the area during the Middle Ages. Today there are a tiny number of people in China that follow and practice Hinduism. Hinduism is not defined as one of the five formal religions in China, but the Chinese authorities allow it.

Is Buddhism Chinese or Indian?

Another commonly asked question is whether Buddhism Chinese or Indian. Siddhartha Guatama was born in northern India in what is today considered Nepal. Buddhism was born in India and from there spread to China and other peoples in Asia. Chinese Buddhism was fused into the local culture and received its unique character, just as it did to him in Tibet, Thailand, Japan, and Korea.

Takeaway

Buddhism in China eventually developed over time. As Buddhism shares its relations with Taoism, Buddhism became ultimately popular. One of the main reasons Buddhism became so popular in China was reincarnation that it shares with other Chinese folk religions. Furthermore, the practices of worship are also similar. Buddhism has had a long history of existence in China. 

Hinduism and Buddhism are often hailed to be two of the oldest religions of the world. While Hinduism comes from Sanatana Dharma, many believe that Buddhism is nothing but a branch of Hinduism. However, it is necessary to determine that these are two different branches with various similarities and differences. 

 

Both religions believe in the concept of reincarnation, dharma, and Moksha. However, certain differences make them two different religions all at once. Here, we compare the two most significant religions of the world, Buddhism and Hinduism. 

1. Hinduism and Buddhism: country of origin

Hinduism and Buddhism are believed to have been born around the Ganges in northern India during the “second urbanization,” which took place around 500 BCE. As stated above, they have similar beliefs yet are different from each other. 

Hinduism is, however, a very new term for the Britishers coined it. However, it is necessary to note that this is an ancient religion. Some sources cite Hinduism as one of the ‘earliest or oldest’ surviving religions of the world. This comes from the evidence of the texts and books supposedly written around the 3rd-2nd millennium BCE.

Hinduism’s sacred texts written in vernacular languages or Sanskrit were responsible for spreading the religion in Southeast Asia. The transmission has had a huge role and has been predominantly existing in Southeast Asia since the 4th century BCE. 

 

Buddhism, too, was founded in India. Although it was founded quite earlier, it wasn’t until Buddha Charita’s discovery that we knew Buddhism. 

2. Hinduism and Buddhism: time of origin

The exact date of the origin of Hinduism isn’t known. But, it is anticipated to be one of the oldest religions of the world. Most Hinduism’s sacred texts are anticipated to have been written around the 3rd to 2nd millennium BCE.

It is expected that Hinduism has been existent since the times of Indus Valley Civilization. However, it became a major religion in Southeast Asia in the 4th century CE. 

 

Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism was founded much later, around the 6th century BCE. This, too, is held to be one of the most important religions in the world. Gautama Buddha founded Buddhism when the concept of Karma, renouncing family, and the importance of truth were considered the essential Hinduism ideals. 

Buddhism and Hinduism similarities and differences

3. Hinduism and Buddhism: founder of the religion

Hinduism and Buddhism differ in terms of Hinduism. Both are essential religions in Indian culture, but there is a huge difference between the two. 

 

Although there are several Hindu Gods, some even suggest 36 million Hindu Gods, but there is no one God. Hinduism, by many, isn’t considered to be a religion but a way of life. Hence, Hinduism is not founded or developed by anyone but by the mixing or fusion of many beliefs surrounding it.

When the Indo-Aryan people started to settle around the Indus Valley, their language and culture began to blend with indigenous people. This intermingling and further advance resulted in the growth of the religion. 

Gautama Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. The founder, Buddha, was born as a Prince on the foothills of Himalaya in Lumbini. He was kept aloof from the pain and sufferings of the world and led a lavish life. However, according to Buddhism symbols and teachings, during his visit to the nearby villages, the prince, Siddhartha Gautama, was brought one-on-one with the world’s pains and sorrows. 

 

This brought about the awakening, and he set out on his search for truth. Eventually, he started his teachings around Sarnath (Benares). It is said that Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment around Bodh Gaya under the renowned Bodhi tree. 

4. Hinduism and Buddhism: goals of the followers

The goals of the followers in Hinduism and Buddhism are very much similar. The final aim in both the religion is Moksha or salvation. Both religions believe in the concept of Dharma and Karma. 

4.1 Dharma

Dharma stands for the true purpose in an individual’s life. It deals with the sense of duty and action every individual takes. Every Hindu and Buddhist has his or her agenda that needs to be fulfilled during life dutifully. The followers want to be free from the cycle of birth-rebirth, known as samsara. Hence, they must practice good Karma to attain this. 

4.2 Karma

Karma in Sanskrit means “to do” and is a word that explains activity or action. It is one of the most commonly used terms to describe effect or cause. The word Karma and its importance have been described widely in many religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. 

 

Karma is extremely important in Buddhism as it is directly related to the person’s thoughts, actions and words. In Buddhism, it is believed that a person’s quality of life and words will bring about good or bad Karma. This further leads to the development of sila. However, the Buddhist teachings are slightly different from that of the pre-Buddhist concepts of Karma. 

4.3 Moksha

The concept of Moksha, salvation or being free from the cycle of birth-rebirth, is extremely important in Hinduism and Buddhism. In both religions, the main goal of followers is to achieve salvation and be free from samsara. 

 

Hindus and Buddhists aim at being free from the birth-rebirth cycle by doing good deeds or Karma. Hence, the actions of one’s previous and current lives will have a massive role in determining whether one will receive the freedom or not. Thus, as per the belief, every Hindu should work towards breaking the cycle. 

Hinduism and Buddhism

5. Hinduism and Buddhism: supreme gods

While Buddhism follows only one God and the rest are Gurus or teachers, Hinduism exists far more. There are several Gods in Hinduism. 

 

The Holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara or Shiva is hailed to be the most important Gods in Hinduism. It is believed that the male Gods or Yakshas are all a part of creating the three main male gods. Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Parvati, and Lakshmi, are the most important ones.

As per popular belief, Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is the preserver, while Shiva is the one who destroys it. Some of the standard terms or names given to the Hindu gods include Daiva, Ishvara, Bhagavan, or Bhagvati. 

Param Brahma is considered to be the supreme God of Hinduism. However, it is necessary to note that Param Brahma isn’t Brahma. The Hindus worship the Supreme being through different names. Hence, this difference of worshipping the Supreme God in different ways gave birth to the concept of Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Smartism, and Shaivism. 

In Vaishnavism, Maha Vishnu is the Supreme God. In Shaktism, Goddess Shakti is the supreme being. In Shaivism, Lord Shiva is the supreme being. However, on Smartism, all deities are considered to be the reflection of one God. Hence, it is up to the devotee in Smartism, who they want to follow or worship as the supreme being. 

 

In Buddhism, the devotees want to achieve Nirvana through the path created by their God, Lord Buddha. However, unlike Hinduism, there isn’t a concept of personal God. According to Buddhism, nothing in this world is permanent or fixed, as everything is temporary, and change can occur anytime. 

6. Hinduism and Buddhism: scriptures

The Holy book of Buddhism is known as Tripitaka. As it was written in Pali, Tripitaka is also referred to as Pali Canon. Pali is one of India’s oldest languages, and it is said that Buddha himself spoke the language. 

 

The Tripitakas are also referred to as Three baskets of wisdom, which is said to be divided into three sections:

          • Vinaya Pitaka or the book of discipline 
          • Sutta Pitaka or The Teaching Basket
          • Abhidhamma Pitaka of the Higher doctrine basket that talks about the teaching of Buddha’s. 

 

The three types of scriptures in Buddhism

          • Sutras or the discourses
          • Vinaya that states the discipline of monastic life.
          • Abhidharma that talks of the analytical texts

According to Theravada Buddhism, Pali Sutras are closely associated with the original words of Buddha. Hence, the Mahayana Buddhist texts are very similar or high in spirits as Buddha’s actual teachings. 

Unlike Buddhism, there are several holy texts or scriptures of Hinduism. There are usually two different categories of the texts: the revealed and the remembered. The revealed texts of Hinduism that are essential to the culture are known as the Vedas. The Vedas are further divided into four different sections known as Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Vedha, and Atharva Veda.

The Upanishads come after the completion of Vedas and are referred to as Vedanta. Vedas are often studied less than other Hinduism texts, but they are considered one of the most critical or sacred scriptures. 

 

All the remembered texts are post-Vedic texts. These post-Vedic texts are two important texts: Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important texts of Hinduism and is a part of Mahabharata. The text focuses on the teachings of Lord Krishna. Another essential scripture in Hinduism is Dharmasastras, which consists of all important about dharma and the aphorisms of dharma. 

7. Hinduism and Buddhism: perception of human nature

Hinduism and Buddhism differ in terms of the perception of human nature. Hinduism believes that the concept of human nature is different from what is perceived easily.

Accordingly, human beings are divided into two parts: the ahankara and the Atman. As per the Hindu scriptures, ahamkara is the pride of worldly manifestation within a person. It is the description of worldly possessions, physical characteristics, and social structures. 

The concept of atman believes in other-selves. It is said that we are all connected, and it is necessary to stay away from the concept of ego or ahamkara. Unlike popular belief, atman isn’t the concept of consciousness but the subject of consciousness.

It brings forth the reflection of oneness or unity. However, Hinduism believes that ignorance of reality is one of the main problems of human nature. 

 

In Buddhism, humans are essential as they help perceive nature and quality of life, further determining the enlightenment achievement properties. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism believes that humans are essential as they are indispensable sentient beings. Hence, they think that Manushya or humans are animals with brains. 

 

Enlightenment is a fundamental concept in Buddhism. Hence, humans tend to be important in Buddhism, too, for they are considered the essential brings believed to have the power to achieve enlightenment. According to the teachings of Buddhism, “Buddhas, however, are always humans.” One can experience Bodhisattva at different times of his life. 

8. Hinduism and Buddhism: practices

The difference between Hinduism and Buddhism practices is because of pre-existing beliefs and practices. To understand the difference between the two, it is necessary to look at Digha Nikaya and Samannaphala Sutta. In the Sutra, the teachings of Buddha are listed.

The text has been empathizing with what the new faith was not. There is a stark contrast between the two. 

 

One of the significant differences in practice is in their worship of Gods. While Hinduism identifies several deities, Buddhists deny the existence of so many gods. Although Buddhists believe in one God’s concept, they consider it unnecessary to seek God. 

Hindus practice meditation for spiritual, mental, and physical benefits. Their main goal is to gain control over the mind. However, Buddhists do not believe in the concept of God for meditation. They believe or consider meditation to be an essential aspect of religion. While Buddhism’s main aim is to achieve control of the mind, Buddhists aim to achieve Nirvana or self-realization through Hinduism. 

Hinduism and Buddhism similarities

9. Hinduism and Buddhism: clergy

Clergy are the formal leaders in particular religions. However, the roles and traditions will vary for each religion. The individual clergy is referred to as clergymen, but monks are the clergy in Buddhism. However, in Hinduism, the priests are the clergy. 

The Buddhist clergy is known as Sangha and is made up of female and male monks. There are two schools of Buddhism- Mahayana and Theravada. Each of them is described and culturally adaptive. However, it is the Mahayana school of Buddhism that is more innovative with forms and culturally adaptive.

The Theravada school of Buddhism is practiced in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. It isn’t as adaptive as the Mahayana school of Buddhism. The broad differences further brought about the major Buddhist monastics through the Early Buddhist Schools. 

 

The Hindu priests are the clergy in Hinduism. They are known as Pujari. In Hindu temples, a purohit is often the family priest who comes from the Brahmin varna and belongs to India’s different parts and have different functions. 

10. Hinduism and Buddhism: place for worship

The sacred place of worship for Hindus is known as mandir or temple. The temple is dedicated to a particular deity or God. It is believed in Hinduism that a temple is a place where God resides on Earth. Being home to God, the temple is treated with the utmost respect in Hinduism.

Many temples forbid the devotees from entering wearing modern clothes or leather belts and shoes. According to the rules, one must open their shoes on the temples’ gates as they enter God’s home. 

The sacred place of worship in Buddhism is a monastery. The followers of Buddhism, Buddhists visit the monastery from time to time to reflect their love of God.

They are made of different structures such as chaitya, the stupa, wat, and vihara. The concept of the monastery is different for different countries. It is the pure environment where Buddha resides. Hence, one must treat the place with the utmost respect. 

11. Hinduism and Buddhism: life after death

According to Hinduism and Buddhism, there is a life after death or rebirth. The life after death, however, will be influenced by one’s Karma of the previous birth. According to Hindus, the cycle of birth-rebirth can be broken through the cycle of samsara. The enlightened cycle can only be broken if one follows good Karma. 

Both Hindus and Buddhists believe that after the physical body’s death, the Atman or soul is transferred to a different birth. In both religions, it is believed that one may or may not have rebirth directly. Some people often believe that the soul travels to different realms before being reborn.

According to Hinduism, the soul enters the swarg or narak (heaven and hell, respectively) before being born again. However, the soul’s stay in Heaven and Hell is limited for a particular time period. 

Good and bad deeds influence the form of birth. The positive and negative merit will further influence the rebirth of atman. Many Hindus and Buddhists believe that one may be reborn as an animal only if he (or she) has done negative deeds. Furthermore, this may be valid if they’ve not learned the lessons from their negative deed while in their human birth. 

 

However, living life in proper merit and as per the scriptures will lead to attaining Moksha or salvation. 

Buddhism and Hinduism compare and contrast

12. Hinduism and Buddhism: rituals

The Buddhist and Hindu rituals are very different. However, Mahayana Buddhism in Japan follows the Shingon Fire ritual or urabon, which is very similar to Hindu traditions. 

 

Furthermore, the Tibetan rituals of Buddhism also find their roots in the Hindu culture. The rites and rituals of purification of homa or yagna or havan are found in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. Both cultures believe in offering prayers to the ancestors and deceased soul for their purification and peaceful departure. 

 

13. Hinduism and Buddhism: festivals

While there are limited celebrations or festivals in Buddhism, Hindus have many of them. Since Hinduism has so many branches, the number of festivals are huge. Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi, the festival of colors, are some of Buddhism’s major festivals.

However, there is a range of other major celebrations in Hinduism, such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Rama Navami, Makar Sankranti, Onam, Maha Shivaratri, and more. 

Vesak is, however, one of the most important Buddhist festivals. Vesak has no fixed date and is held on the first full moon day of May. It is also observed as Buddha Jayanti. However, Buddhist festivals are celebrated accordingly around different countries.

Some of Buddhism’s common festivals include Uposatha, Kathina Ceremony, Madhu Purnima, Loy Krathong, The Elephant Festival, The Ploughing Festival, Asala Puja, and Magha Puja. 

14. Hinduism and Buddhism: symbols

The Hindu symbols are one of the holiest aspects. Over the years, the identity of Hinduism has only developed because of its iconic symbols. These iconic symbols have become a part of the Hindu iconography, which further imbibe the scriptures’ sense. Some of the common symbols of Hinduism include

 

          • Shiva Lingam
          • Swastika
          • Vibhuti
          • Tilaka
          • Rudraksha
          • Om 
          • Lotus
          • Sri Chakra Yantra

The Buddhist symbols are a major part of Buddhist art and represent dharma. In Buddhism, there are eight auspicious symbols. These essential symbols include

 

          • Lotus Flower
          • The endless knot or the mandala
          • Golden Fish
          • Treasure Vase
          • Wheel of Dharma or the Dharma Wheel
          • Parasol
          • Conch Shell
          • Victory Banner

 

15. Hinduism and Buddhism: art

Buddhist art is referred to as the artistic practices, which is an important part of Buddhism. The art media reflects the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and are essential. Mandalas are an essential part of the Buddhist culture. Buddhist art is an essential part of Central Asia and Eastern Asia. 

 

Hindu art is eventually determined with its paintings, architecture, and sculptures and reflects the Indian subcontinent’s idea. 

16. Hinduism and Buddhism: political presence

Both Hinduism and Buddhism are in favor of the Democratic regime method. The Buddhist societies are democratic and support the concept of free-thinking through autonomy support. 

17. Hinduism and Buddhism: worldwide distribution

While Hinduism is widespread in India, hence, it is for this reason, India is also referred to as Hindustan. Buddhism is widespread around SouthEast Asia. Hinduism is found around India and Nepal. 15% of the world’s population are Hindus. 

 

As per the records, around 500 million of the world practice Buddhism. Hence, 7-8% of the world’s population are Buddhists. Buddhism is the dominant religion across Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. 

18. Hinduism and Buddhism: conversion

Buddhism is one of those religions that people can adopt with their minds and hearts without being involved in critical thinking. However, there are no hard and fast rules for converting to Buddhism. If you find the religion in you, one is welcomed in Buddhism. 

 

Similar to Buddhism, there are no proper rules for entering Hinduism. Religion is not based on ornaments or certificates. Anyone can become a follower of Hinduism by dedicating their soul and heart to that. However, one must be ready to embrace the puja rituals and ceremony.

In Buddhism, the devotees believe that death is a natural part of the life cycle. According to them, death leads to rebirth. The belief in reincarnation means that a person’s spirit remains quite near and seeks a new body and a new life. This is quite an essential and comforting principle.

Buddhists do not consider death to be the end of life. Therefore, they are not afraid of death. According to the Buddhist belief, how a person is born and what sort of a life he gets depends on their previous life’s good and bad actions.

Buddhism approach to death

In Buddhism, the people think that a dead person has passed on to the next birth, so funerals are not sad occasions. It is also believed that this person will experience a much happier and more fulfilled life after death. The dead person’s family offers prayers and offers food to monks to improve their dead relatives’ future.

There are also ceremonies conducted for the benefit of the deceased person and even for the family and the friends of the diseased person who is left behind. There might also be a sermon that will emphasize teaching the Buddhist religion about non-self and impermanence. The Buddhism ceremony will also help develop merit that will again be transferred to the dead person to ensure that he or she has a better circumstance.

Buddhism death and afterlife

Where does the soul go after death in Buddhism?

In Buddhism, people believe in the cycle of death and rebirth. This is referred to as the Samsara. It is only through eventful enlightenment and Karma; they can try escaping Samsara and finally achieve Nirvana, which is considered an end of the suffering. Our life is in the cycle of death and rebirth that is called the Samsara. This is a cycle that one should try to escape from. When someone dies, their energy gets into another form. 

Buddhists believe in the law of Karma or intentional action. By their excellent stories, the Buddhists hope to gain enlightenment or get a better future for themselves. If your actions are right, then it will result in a better rebirth. Both Buddhism believes in rebirth or reincarnation.

 

What is heaven and hell for the Buddhists?

The concept of hell and heaven among the Buddhists is different from the other religions. Buddhists do not agree with the fact that the spaces are eternal. This is entirely irrational to condemn a man to hell for the weaknesses he has.

But it is reasonable to provide him every chance to develop himself. According to the Buddhists, those who go to hell will improve themselves by using the merit they had gained earlier. The gates of hell do not have any locks. Hell is a provisional place, and there are no grounds as to why people should suffer there permanently.

According to the teachings of Buddha, there are no heaven and hell beyond this world. They are there in this world itself. Thus the Buddhist concept of heaven and hell is quite reasonable. The fire of the hell of this world is hotter than the fire of hell in the world beyond. No fire equals anger, greed, lust, and ignorance. We are blazing with as many as eleven types of mental agony and physical pain. 

The people can destroy the whole world with these fires. According to Buddha, the simple definition of hell is a place where you experience pain and suffering in this world as well as in the world beyond. On the other hand, a place where you are happy in this world and the world beyond is referred to as heaven.

Buddhism reincarnation- What is it?

Reincarnation is the transmigration of a soul after the death of the present body to a different body. But there is no such teaching existing among the Buddhists. This is quite a surprise for a lot of Buddhists as well. The essential doctrine of Buddhism is no soul or no-self.

According to Buddhism, there is no permanent spirit of an individual self that will survive death. For this reason, Buddhism does not believe in reincarnation in the traditional sense of the term as is understood in Hinduism. 

But the question that might arise here is how is it that the Buddhists often speak of rebirth? If there is no permanent self or soul, then what is it that is reborn?

Buddha has taught us that what we consider “self” is self-consciousness, ego, and personality. It is the skandhas that have created this. According to Lord Buddha, our physical and emotional beings, beliefs and ideas, and consciousness work together to create an illusion of “me.” 

He believes that every moment the illusion of “me” renews itself. Nothing is carried over from one life to the next, and even nothing is carried over even from one moment to the other. But that does mean that “we” does not at all exist. It merely means that a permanent and unchanging “me” does not exist.

8 Stages of death in Buddhism

When a person dies, the winds that are connected with the four elements- the earth, the fire, water, and the air) deteriorate till the time these elements do not any longer work as the basis of consciousness. 

We are made of 5 aggregates, the four elements and the six senses of powers, and remaining human beings depend on these twenty factors. When we die, all of these factors undergo deterioration in a series of as many as eight dissolutions.

The first dissolution is the amassed form. Here, there are a deterioration of the eye and its objects, visible shapes, and colors. An individual will not be able to close or open the eyes any further.

The body becomes extremely thin and loses. When the earth element dissolves, the dying person feels as if they are sinking and going under the earth. This does not happen naturally and is simply an inner experience. 

In the second dissolution, the feelings of the dying person tend to get combined. The inner experience of the body is that it does not experience any feelings of pain or pleasure. This is a deterioration of the water element.

 

The third dissolution is that there is an aggregate of the perception. During this time, the dying person can recognize the elements. When the first element diminishes, then the body tends to lose its warmth; when the nose sense deteriorates, you will no longer be able to experience the smell. During this time, one starts panting.

During the fourth dissolution, there is a complete dissolution of some of the compositional factors. During this time, the mind loses its ability.

In the fifth dissolution, the consciousness in its gross form ceases to exist, and thereby, the subtle forms get revealed. Thus all the gross conceptuality is wholly left behind. 

During the sixth dissolution, the red drop you got from your mother tends to rise from the naval level.

At the time of the seventh dissolution, the drops start moving towards the heart center where consciousness and the subtle combination of wind energy resides, and once it is reached, the drops tend to close between them. One experiences the radiant black sky.

 

When one reaches the eighth dissolution, then one starts to gain consciousness again, and the light of death finally manifests itself. During this time, one tends to experience a sense of emptiness.

Buddhist death rituals 49 days

What happens 49 days after death in Buddhism?

Some Buddhists start to perform religious ceremonies just after seven days of the death of the person. After that, they will keep repeating this ceremony every day for the next 49 days. The significance of the number 49 is that 7×7 = 49. These ceremonies include rituals and prayers.

The traditions associated with this are derived from a book called ” The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” also known as the Bardo Thodol. The Tibetan Buddhists use this book so that they can guide their consciousness towards reincarnation once they die. 

According to the Buddhists, until they attain Nirvana, a person will continue with the cycle of birth, life, death, and then rebirth. But the Buddhists do not believe that rebirth will take place immediately after the person dies.

it is believed that the person will first go through an intermediate state before they are born again. Many Buddhists believe that the maximum number of days when a soul stays at its intermediate stage is 49 days. It is for this reason that they perform religious ceremonies every day for a total of 49 days. 

 

To improve the odds that a person might experience after death and also to provide a positive rebirth, these rituals are performed. After the death of a person, he goes through three stages. Prayers help them in moving through these processes smoothly.

Death Ritual in Buddhism

According to the Buddhists, at the time of death, the person passes through a process referred to as Samsara or reincarnation. They can be reborn as Gods or demigods, humans, animals, hell creatures, or hungry ghosts.

This will depend on the actions and the thoughts. Indeed, Buddhism does not require any specific practice at the time of death. However, the rituals certainly help these individuals to achieve a better station in their next life. Both burial and cremation are practiced in Buddhism.

There are indeed different forms of Buddhism. However, it is the belief in the rebirth that is shared. Death is the transition from one life to another. The funeral customs that the Buddhists follow vary depending on the various sects and from one country to another. The funerals can be simple and dignified, or they can be quite traditional and ritualistic. But the most important aspect of Buddhism is peace and serenity. 

Some of these rituals and customs are as follows:

        • There is an awakening when the mourners pay their tribute to the dead person and share their condolences with the deceased’s family.
        • This can be either a memorial service after cremation or burial, or it might also be an open casket funeral before the cremation.
        • There will also be a portrait of the deceased, which will be in the middle of the altar in the coffer’s front.
        • There will also be an image of Buddha near the altar.
        • Offerings include fruits and white and yellow flowers.
        • One can provide donations to the deceased’s family, but they cannot provide them food as it is considered inappropriate.
        • Buddhists also prefer cremation, the reason being that it releases the soul from the physical form.
        • Embalming is also allowed.
        • There is no specific time frame mentioned as to when the cremation will take place. The funeral rites will be conducted on the morning of the day of burial or cremation.
        • Verses will also be changed during this time.
        • The funeral rites will be conducted by either the monks or by the family members.
        • Organ donation or autopsies are also allowed in Buddhism. This happens after 3 to 4 days of death because it is believed that the soul has already left the body by that time.
        • Buddhism is practiced by people belonging to different cultures. Therefore the attire tends to be quite varied. There are. However, certain traditional colors are worn that are more or less the same.
        • The family wears white clothes that symbolize grief and also is a sign of respect.
        • The family might also wear either an armband or a headband.
        • Friends might also wear black.
        • One should not wear bright color clothes, and red attire is specifically deemed as inappropriate. 

After the death of a person, the following rituals are performed by the Buddhists:

 

Chanting

According to the Buddhists, chanting texts from Buddhism will generate merits that will be passed on to the deceased person and help him at the time of rebirth.

Cloth of the Dead

The Theravada Buddhists ( the ones from Srilanka, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia) can incur good favors to the deceased by offering the monks white cloth use to create the robes. The merit that is generated by this deed is transferred to the dead person by pouring water into an overflowing cup while performing the chants.

Buddhist death rituals in Thailand and Southeast Asia

The Buddhists who belong to Thailand and the Southeast Asian countries follow the following rituals:

Bathing ceremony

During this ceremony, the deceased’s family and friends pour water on one of the deceased’s hands before they place the body in the coffin. Candles, incense, and wraths surround the coffin. There is also a photo of the deceased placed alongside the coffin. 

There are also colored lights hanging above. In case the body is to be cremated, then the cremation is postponed for a week. This way, the relatives of the deceased can show honor to the deceased person. In these circumstances, the monks come daily to chant over the body. 

Offering food

Before the body is buried or cremated, the deceased’s relatives offer food to the monks who visit their homes for the deceased. This also helps in providing merit to the deceased and also helps them in their rebirth.

Buddhist death rituals in Srilanka

Preaching

Once a week after the funeral of the deceased has passed, the Buddhist monks return to the home of the deceased and preach a sermon for about an hour along with the neighbors and the relatives. After this, the family, friends, and neighbors enjoy a meal together.

Offerings

The Buddhists provide offerings in the name of the person who has died after three months of the funeral. This continues every year after that. The aim is the same. It is to gain merit that can be transferred to the deceased to aid him in reincarnation.

Buddhist death rituals in Tibet

Sky burial

This is the practice where the body is left to be eaten by the vultures. This is a way for the deceased person to gain merit posthumously. This is considered to be an act of generosity to the animals. This ritual was also accepted for certain practical reasons. There was a scarcity of firewood in Tibet, and this made the burning of the corpse quite difficult.

Reading of the texts

The 49 days between death and rebirth is referred to as Bardo. During this time, the deceased’s relatives read certain texts related to the practices that were followed by the deceased. These readings also help in the journey to rebirth.

Yoga, as a religion, has always been a debatable topic. Another debatable topic is whether yoga descended from religion or transformed into spirituality. To consider if yoga is a secular activity has always been a confusing part. 

When we look around the world at those who have adopted yoga and practice yoga daily, there seems to be a built-in contradiction. On the one hand, mainly in western countries, secular institutions across the world have been practicing yoga. On the other hand, the yogis practice religion, spirituality, mysticism, and yoga.

The answer is almost simple. Despite some similarities, yoga is not a religion. Yoga can not be considered to be a religion. It is a way of life which in some way, can remind us of religion. Yoga shares many common things with different religions, such as personal contemplation, satisfaction, finding a deeper meaning of life, and seeking personal peace. In contrary to religions, Yoga has no direct or bound rules and regulations that you have to follow as in particular religions.

There is no reward and punishment in yoga, and there is no divine authority that oversees and punishes you if you have acted in violation of the rules or rewarded you if you have acted according to the laws of religion. Also, in yoga, there is no form of ritual or worship towards a transcendental entity.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual exercise designed to bring the practitioner to spiritual development. This spiritual growth is a unification between self-consciousness and spirituality. A state in which the senses are concentrated in the practitioner’s personal experience without being disturbed by external simulations, and there are no distracting thoughts.

Yoga is one of the best exercises performed across the world. It should be practiced positively. It is about discipline and ethics that increase the value of life. It helps to attain a mindful life. Yoga helps to boost calm and steady living. Not only is it beneficial for your mental well-being, but also your physical well-being. Yoga is one of those practices which can take you by surprise.

What religion is yoga associated with?

Yoga is associated with Hinduism and Buddhismץ. Many spiritual leaders believe that yoga finds its root in Hinduism. Different yoga schools and the goals are practiced via different religions like Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Yoga, however, finds its origin in one of the Hindu philosophical traditions’ six astika schools.

Is yoga based on Buddhist or Hindu?

Yoga is found in the Vedic and Hindu schools of thought and practices. The Yoga system was originated by Hiranyagarbha, the one who is the form of Vedic Sun. 

The origin of yoga is found in Rigveda. But, what’s more, convenience is very controversial. Lord Shiva is hailed as the greatest of Yogis or Adi Yodi. Classical yoga and yoga of Buddhism are very different. The teachings for both vary on a significant aspect. The Yoga sutras find their place in Buddhism as well.

Yoga and Buddhism are considered to be meditation practices that follow the path of Karma and rebirth. It helps to bring about the concept of consciousness. Yoga in Hinduism and Buddhism follows the principle of Truth or natural law. The Sharma’s include the law of Karma and bring the unity of sentiments.

Although they follow the same principles, there’s a huge difference for both on philosophical levels. The basic ethics and values of yoga in Buddhism and Hinduism remain the same: to attain inner peace and meet divine power.

is yoga a religion or exercise

Do yogis believe in God?

God plays an important role in yoga. But more than God, yoga believes in the existence of a supreme being. Yoga doesn’t follow the general principle but is rather focused on practical philosophy. 

Yoga, being a practical approach, teaches us to take responsibility for our own actions. Our general belief in God is very different from that of the belief in God in Yoga.

The main aim of yoga is to achieve freedom from the bondage of our personality. Hence, God in Yoga stands on a very high pedestal and is a part of perfect consciousness.

Yogis do believe in God, but only with the medium of achieving freedom from the bondages. Yoga Sutra by Patanjali is the main Yoga book. This book brings forth the concept of mind and modification. Unlike us who believe that God is a supreme being, Yogis believe that Truth is the only God and that God is indescribable and infinite. Yogis do not believe in the form of God, but the supreme being who brings power.

According to Yogis, we can meet and understand God fully only if our heart is pure and free of sinful thoughts. Our higher intellectual understanding plays an important role in making us close to God. Even Patanjali is cautious while discussing God in his book. His book mentions that God’s concept is omniscience that is free from various Karmas. Indeed, God is hailed as the primary spiritual teacher.

Hence, it can be concluded that Yogis do believe in God, but only as a Being who is the Ultimate or Supreme Truth. It is because of the existence of God that everything else in the world exists. However, Yogis fail to capture the totality of God’s consciousness.

What religion does not allow yoga?

As we wrote before, Yoga is a mindful practice to attain spiritual growth. It also helps in your mental and physical growth. 

Still, Yoga is prohibited in some particular religions. The Church prohibits the practice of yoga. Since yoga is considered to be related to Hinduism and Buddhism, it is not allowed in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Hence, most followers of these religions do not practice yoga. However, times are changing, and many Christian people have started doing yoga.

On the other hand, many churches in the UK do not provide their halls for conducting yoga sessions. But ever since the world saw the benefits of yoga, they became more flexible and embraced the practice too for their own growth.

Is yoga against any religion?

Yoga, according to Yogis, is a way of life. It only teaches you what you should accept and what you should reject. It is not a religion and does not abstain anyone from practicing their own religion. Hence yoga, in no way, is against any religion.

Is yoga against the catholic religion?

Yoga does not challenge the beliefs of the Church. Yoga is a straightforward practice that allows one to follow a healthy life. It is not against any religion, as mentioned earlier. Similarly, yoga is not against the Catholic religion, either.

What is the principal conflict between yoga and Christianity (or any other religion)?

There has always been a conflict between yoga and Christianity because of yoga’s origins. Many Christian leaders believe that yoga is related to Hinduism. Hence, they denounce the practice of yoga. 

Yoga is often referred to in the concept of East Asian religions. People in East Asian countries and worldwide have been practicing yoga as a meditation to attain spiritual unity with God and nature, mostly the ‘divine-self.’

However, according to the Bible, we should meditate only in God’s name and that we can never be divine in ourselves. As per the concept of the Bible, God and nature can’t be one. God is the supreme being. If we practice yoga, we tend to make nature and God one, which is not permitted.

God is the creator, and nature is His creation. As per Christianity, the creator is to be worshipped and not his creation.

Many Christian people who practice yoga only practice the unique stretches. Christian people do it for physical exercise and do not follow the Eastern beliefs embedded in yoga.

Yoga and Hinduism

Hinduism has six main schools of thought or Darshana: Samkhya, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Vaisheshika, and Yoga. These six orthodox schools tend to form the core of Hinduism. These orthodox schools are gained from the Vedas and all the Hindu concepts.

According to Hinduism, Yoga’s main goal is to become one with God and nature. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘yuj,’ which means to unite.

Many Hindu textbooks, such as the Vedas and Upanishads, discuss yoga to control senses. Yoga finds a mention even in the holy Hindu textbook, Bhagavad Gita. Dhyana yoga is the most followed form of yoga because it is commonly understood by everyone today.

is yoga against my religion

Yoga and Buddhism

The main goal of Buddhism and Yoga is to achieve enlightenment. More than the differences, Buddhism and Yoga share a lot of similarities. Both focus on increasing concentration and staying away from the path of fragmentation of thoughts and distractions. 

Yogic and Buddhist schools believe that one can only be enlightened if they are free from the dualistic mindset. Compassion forms the main impact of Buddhism and Yoga. The enlightened state helps one realize that they are one with nature, God, and with themselves. All these conscious realizations of Yoga and Buddhism makes everything so clear that all delusions disappear.

According to Yoga and Buddhism, suffering exists globally, and it is also straightforward to get over it. Buddhist gurus and yogis have practiced meditation since ancient times to achieve ’emptiness’ or complete freedom from these worldly sufferings.

Does doing yoga make you a Hindu or Buddhist practitioner?

Yoga is an inclusive term, which is why many face difficulties in recognizing it. Yoga is a spiritual practice, and anyone from any religion is free to practice yoga. Doing yoga and its asanas will not make you a Buddhist or a Hindu. However, many Islamic and Christian people refrain from practicing it.

Takeaway

So to the question, if yoga is religion, the answer is straightforward. It is not a religion but a way of life. Yoga is more of a science that makes you conscious about your mind and body relationship. Practicing and doing yoga will only make you a better version of yourself and not alter your religion.

Travel to Japan, the land of the rising sun  

Intro and Geographical info 

Islands offer a peace of mind that’s hard to find elsewhere. The very thought of being surrounded by the tranquility of the ocean engulfs the human mind into pure bliss. One such divinity can be experienced in the land of cherry blossoms, Japan. It is an island country in the Pacific Ocean bordering the East Asian continent.

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Japan, 6,852 Islands

Famous for its rich heritage and historical events, Japan stands a witness to many battles of yesteryears and testimony for disciplined culture. It is the world of technology and creativity, some of which we can name are Anime, Sumo, Sushi, Sakura and what not! 

This little island country has one of the most favorable climates. However, it varies greatly with regions from north to south. Northern Japan is a climatic treat to people from tropical areas with its cold winters and cool summers.

To get enthralled by the snowfall, regions on the coast of the Sea of Japan are a pretty sight. Southern regions are more like home with their cold winters and hot summers. Ideally, a Japanese year thrives with all the four seasons. 

Japan’s culture (Shinto, Buddhism) 

Although a cosmopolitan country with people from all walks of life, Japanese people are usually followers of Shinto and Buddhism. The tenets of Shinto were the imperial family’s descent from their Sun Goddess that reflected from the divinity of the emperor. Although after World War II, the emperor’s divinity was renounced, he stands as the official head of the Shinto religion in Japan.

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A Torii, Shinto gate, marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred

Experience Shinto in Japan

In literal terms, Shinto means ‘the way of the Gods’ and this religion has a strong relation to nature. The believers are worshipers of nature and natural places like mountain tops, forests, waterfalls, specific trees, unusual rocks, and more. Shinto believers respect their deities through a process of ritual purification.

Shinto is less solemn than the Westerners relate worshipping to. However, you will notice commercial bustle around the Asakusa shrine in Tokyo that evokes an atmosphere like a Western country fair.

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Shinto shrines at Kyoto

People clap their hands, toss coins to drop it in a box, bow respectfully, and offer prayers. The believers then move to the food stalls, souvenir shops, and amusement booths inside the sanctuary.

As you talk to locals or people who follow Shinto, they will have great insight to give you about their religion and what they believe in. Most Shinto people are ethnic and follow rituals strictly. They strike a balance between modern-day Japan with its traditional past and have unique stories to tell about their lifestyle, upbringing, and beliefs.

Buddhism in Japan

Buddhist philosophy dates back to 500 BC and originated in India. The pure doctrine of Buddhism urges people to seek Nirvana or enlightenment by giving up on desires – the main source of pain in life.

In Japan, Buddhist practices transformed from private contemplation into public charity. The need for asceticism and celibacy faded with time. Initially, the Japanese people looked as Buddhism as a protect of the noble families and the state. These were the people who built Buddhist temples near their homes. 

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About 70 Buddha stone statues in Nikko national park

The new sect of Buddhism spread after the 9th century in Japan and expanded all across the country. The religion transformed from protecting aristocracy and became the means of hope and faith for every common man. They were all attracted to the beliefs, prayers, and rituals of Buddhism.

By the end of the 12th century, the religion was as prominent as Shinto in Japan. It suffused with aspects of the Chinese Confucianism, which was relatable to the Japanese people. These included filial piety, loyalty, and family solidarity. 

Why you should visit Japan?

Japanese unique culture

Japnese culture will never fail to inspire you. It thrives in its age-old traditional values in spite of all the technological advances. You get to experience the best of both worlds throughout your stay.

Though dominated by a mechanical life with a number of renowned companies headquartered in their country, people treasure their virtue more than anything else. 

Japanese culture stands apart in terms of their approach towards others. They’re the politest people you’d have ever come across. In this modern era, Japanese people are one among the few countries where people greet each other with a slight bow.

You’ll be surprised that even bus drivers thank each person for purchasing a ticket. The three magic words – thank you, sorry and please are used at all times. However, people speak only Japanese, though English is taught as a second language in school.

This reveals their patriotism towards their mother tongue. Throughout your stay, you’ll hear the word ‘Arigato’ very often, which means ‘Thank you.’

Rules are never meant to be broken. They are staunch believers of ‘First come, first serve.’ You’ll find queues everywhere, be it a lift or a billing counter. Libraries are not the only place where people maintain silence, the everyday commute is as serene as a  place of worship.

Road rules are kept up at all times. Pedestrians are respected, most of the vehicles stop if people are walking by. Chaos is absolutely forbidden. As travelers, it is highly important to follow their values so as not to offend them. 

Landscapes in Japan 

Japan comprises of tiny islands, mountains, and valleys. Mountains dominate the country. Mount Fuji, one of the holy mountains of Japan, is a highly popular tourist destination. Being a dormant volcano, it is totally harmless. UNESCO claims Mount Fuji to be an inspiration for many artists and poets.

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The iconic symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji

Active volcanoes also contribute to volcanic landscapes. Showa-Shinzan and  Sakurajima to name a few. One shouldn’t miss Fuketsu on their visit to Japan, it is a cave where cold wind breezes out from the inside.

Besides the mountains, Japan also possesses several relaxing coastal areas. Beaches, sidelines and coral reefs are found in abundance. Check out Okinawa main island for a day out, to soak in the goodness of vitamin D. It is the abode for adventurists as it provides snorkeling opportunities.

Kerama Islands are famous for their corals and most of the tourists have been lucky enough to spot sea turtles near the beaches. For those who revel in solitude, Amami Oshima is a safe haven. It is one of the less crowded beaches in Japan.

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Kerama Islands are famous for their corals

However, metropolitan cities are lined with skyscrapers that are tall and sleek. The land is prone to earthquakes. But thanks to the brilliant minds, their architecture is made sure to withstand earthquakes. Wooden floorings are found in most of the buildings. 

Food

There’s more to Japanese food than ramen or sushi. A must-try is the Okonomiyaki pancakes made from cabbage, topped with a variety of toppings. You can choose any toppings from meat to seafood. Other must-haves are Soba noodles, Yakiniku barbecue, Tempura, Sukiyaki, and Yakitori.

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Soba noodles, a must-try in Japan

For your sweet tooth, Japan offers matcha-flavored sweets. Matcha is green tea, made from the finest tea leaves that are steamed, dried and made into a powder. You’ll get matcha-flavored ice creams, chocolates, and cookies which are healthy and tasty!

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Japanese food: perfectionism and aesthetics

 Did you know that Japan has over 200 flavors of KitKat to choose from? These range from Apple, Double-cookie to green tea, soy sauce, cherry blossom, sake, crème Brulee and ginger ale. These are just some of the things you must try in Japan.

Tokyo

The busy Tokyo metropolis has served as the capital for Japan since 1869. Unlike other countries, Japan has remained constant in its choices from the very beginning. The city bustles with life and energy. You’ll never witness a lag in the speeding lifestyle of the people in the capital. 

Home to some of the tallest towers in Japan, the Tokyo Sky Tree stands proud at 634 meters. Though the city is lined with skyrocketing skyscrapers, shrines are plenty in number. Asakusa shrine tugs at the heartstrings with its beautiful architecture. 

In spite of being a business hub, traffic is maintained and is perfectly under control. Road rules are to be followed at any cost. Japnese people never overtake other vehicles or switch lines. However, public transport is a preferred everyday commute. 

While in Tokyo, do experience the Odaiba cruise. The vessel is designed in such a futuristic way, that it almost resembles a spacecraft. It is spacious and fully air-conditioned. A truly magical voyage. 

Tokyo doesn’t compromise on its greenery either. Lush green parks and botanical gardens seep the much needed eco-friendly retreat into our systems. Zen gardens are world-famous. 

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Shibuya intersection in Tokyo

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Shibuya intersection, the most famous intersection in the world

Nightlife

Japnese people close their days much earlier. However, that doesn’t put an end to the nightlife activities that are lined up for tourists. It’s a popular saying the ‘Tokyo is the city that never sleeps!’ 

Party enthusiasts must visit the Robot Restaurant. It’s located in the Shinjuku district. Make sure to reserve seats for the place is super crowded. There’s no end for all the fun, neon lights, booze and pretty girls. For those of you who are into clubbing, do check out Roppongi and Shibuya.

Tokyo night life
Tokyo bars

Smitten with Japnese pop culture? Kawaii monster cafe is a colorful pop culture themed hang out. From Tuesday to Friday, special shows are put up for entertainment. Never miss an opportunity to brag about the famous pop shows.

Huddle around the biggest baseball stadium, Tokyo Dome, if you happen to visit during the baseball season. It is the home to the Yomiuri Giants. Japan is truly diversified having something to offer for everyone. Be it a party or sports, this country will satiate all your needs.  

First time to the land of cherry blossoms? Let’s put an end to all the if’s and but’s battling in your mind with these 10 curated tips for people traveling to Japan for the very first time.

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Don’t miss Shinjuku at night
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The colorful Harajuku Kawaii Monster Cafe

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Best tips when traveling in Japan 

Transit within the country

Let those bulky wallets remain bulky. Always prefer public transport, railways are the best. There’s no hassle as in waiting for a long time. The trains are always on time. Do experience the fastest bullet train, Shinkansen. However, if you prefer cabs, better start early to avoid traffic.

Japnese people aren’t very much into honking, so horns are seldom used and that adds up to the time taken for resolving the traffic. Be prepared to face the intervals if the travel is longer, cab drivers halt for a rest every hour.

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Shinkansen, the best way to cross Japan
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Train stations, always shiny and clean

Cheap stays

Try the capsule hotels, has been vouched by many travelers for its prime locations and service. Make sure to pre-book to avoid last-minute confusions.

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Don’t try if you are claustrophobic

Tickling taste buds

If you’re a foodie, worry not. You’ll never run out of options. The Japnese cuisine has loads of mouth-watering dishes to satisfy your taste buds. With the only downfall that almost all the restaurants have really skyrocketing prices for most of their dishes. However, traditional Indian eateries are harder to find. You’ll have to make-do with baked foods. Cafe’s are abundant, Tully’s coffee is deemed the best.

Mind the escalator rules

Make sure to keep left when you’re on an escalator unless you’re running out of time. Because the right side is reserved for people who are in a hurry.

Never tip

It’s natural to feel that we have to go the extra mile to show that their service was good. And it’s also mandatory to tip the waiters in a few countries. But never tip Japnese for their services, they get offended.

 Visa cards to the rescue

Currencies come in handy. However, for hefty purchases, visa cards are accepted as credit cards are not very popular in most of the stores.

 Restrooms matter

Please do not get flustered with so many websites giving out information that handwashes/ sanitizers aren’t available. They do have all the basic necessities in restrooms unless it’s some run-down place. But, jet hoses are not available, instead, they have an automatic button system.

 Wifi hotspots

It costs a lot to continue with your existing phone plans. It’s advisable to get a local sim if you plan to stay for a good number of days. And almost all the places offer free wifi, so it’s better to rely on WhatsApp messages and calls for shorter stays.

 Souvenirs and goodies

What are travels without a souvenir to hold all the memories intact? Do check out Daiso, it’s the biggest 100 yen shop for goodies. The good old Lawson Familymart is omnipresent and is a good option to purchase goodies for a fair price without compromising on quality.

Time to cross Japan off your bucket list. Happy journey!

Do’s and don’t in Japan 

Do’s list 

Enjoy gambling

While gambling is frowned upon in so many countries, it is a wonderful recreation in Japan. However, people don’t gamble with money. Instead, they trade vouchers for food and drinks.

It is absolutely harmless. Many parlors are present across the country. Pachinko parlor is one of the most famous gambling parlors. They are in no way lesser to world-famous Casinos. It’s known for its noise and colorful ambiance. Even if you’re not into gambling, do check out their booths just for the jazz and thrill of it. 

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Sort of a cultural shock when you get in

Experience the onsen

The Japanese word for geothermally heated springs that supply hot water for public baths is termed as an onsen. A bath in the onsen feels almost cathartic. They calm your nerves, soothe your aching muscles and ease stress. Villagers are said to have two onsens every day after hectic fieldwork. 

Satiate your taste buds

When in Japan, try only Japanese cuisine. Get hold of your chopsticks and do it the Japanese way. Don’t mind if you don’t get it right. It’s all worth it in the end. The menu cards will leave you awestruck with loads of dishes to choose from. 

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For some food, chopstick usage is much more effective

Learn basic Japanese

Japanese are very patriotic about their language. It feels good to put a smile on their face by conversing in their mother tongue. Here are a few courtesies that will refine your pleasant stay

  • Good day – Konichiwa
  • Thank you – Arigato
  • Sorry – Gomen’nasai 
  • Please – Onegai shimasu

Karaoke all the way 

It’s a favorite past-time in Japan. All the karaoke booths are private. So, get together with your friends and sing your heart out. 

Don’ts list 

Litter at your own cost!

Trash cans are seldom found in Japan. People carry rubbish with them and deposit it in the recycling bins. This process is followed by a rigorous task, where rubbish materials are separated from potential recyclable materials. So, it is advised that instead of littering, travelers carry a paper bag with them. It’s better to co-operate with their complex recycling process. 

Say no to booze competitions

Sake and beer drinking competitions are very popular among Japanese men. However, please stay away from getting into one as your chances of winning are very slim when compared to them. 

Don’t finish your meal or drink

Japanese people value hospitality above all. When someone has finished their entire meal or drink, they assume that they’ve under-fed you and that you’re still hungry. This offends them. So, always leave bits and scraps of food on your plate. 

Never tip

In most of the western countries, it is mandatory to tip a certain percentage of the total bill to the waiters. However, in Japan, it is an offense. Express your gratitude only through praises. 

Phone manners

As mentioned previously, all public transport in Japan is very calm. Stay away from talking loudly on cell phones when you’re commuting. Japanese people don’t like to be disturbed. 

Table manners

Japanese people respect their food more than anything else.  Do not talk while eating or drinking. It is considered bad manners. 

Don’t blow your nose in public

Japanese people are very sensitive about this. They’re easily disgusted when people blow their noses in public. Make sure you don’t put them in an awkward situation. When the need arises, excuse yourself to one of their so-called musical restrooms and blow your nose. However, sniffing is tolerated.

Fascinating Facts about Japan

  • Since it is believed that Japan is the first country to see the sunlight first so in Japanese the term japan means Nihon or Nippon which means “Land of the rising sun”.
  • The famous Hello Kitty was born in Japan in 1974 as a plastic purse. Now there are about 20000 variety of Hello Kitty products available in the market. She is known as kitty Chan for Japanese people.
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As many as you want 🙂
  • We all are aware that Japan is the largest producer of the Automobile Industry and Toyota is a great significance over there. But did you know that the eight brush strokes on Toyota are considered to be lucky in Japan? The company is more than a brand for the locals.
  • In Japanese, the tearing of gift wrap is considered as a sin.
  • Japanese considers belly (hara) as the center of emotions and they value silent communication.
  • Shinto is one of the few religions with a female solar deity in the world.
  • In a year, Japan faces 1500 earthquakes as minor tremors are common to them. The nation sits on the top of 4 tectonic plates and this the reason for such activities.
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Torii gates in Fushimi Inari in Kyoto
  • Japan has the world’s oldest continually operating company. They had a construction company that was operated by the same family for 40 generations and the company name is Kongo Gumi Co. Ltd. It was founded in 578 AD and ran up to the year 2006 until another company bought it.
  • Japan is mostly made of up of archipelagoes and comprises of 6,852 islands.
  •  Japnese is a home for pet animals there are more pets compared to kids below 15.
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6,852 islands in Japan
  • In Japnese culture, chopsticks should not be kept crossed on the table as it symbolizes death and the vertical chop on rice bowl as the funeral.
  • Many of the streets in Japan doesn’t have a name so the postal cards contain substation name and the visiting cards have the map on it.
  • There are more than 20 ways of saying sorry in Japan.
  • The life expectancy right of Japan is higher compared to other countries.
  • The laws in Japan are very strict and the crime rate is very low.
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Japanese Yakuza, crime with rules…

Best time to visit

Japan has loads of options to choose from. One particular season cannot be chosen in general. It all comes down to what you’re very much into. With every season and every region having dozens of festivals and activities year-round, you could never end up with a dull vacation. Plan your stay based on the following activities,

Forget-me-not blue skies

Not everyone is fond of monsoons and ski slopes. To revel in a holiday similar to those cheerful rising sun postcards, plan your stay in the months from March to May and from September to November. The weather is perfect with very little or no rainfall at all.

Temperature is mild. This picture-perfect weather chimes in for hiking. It’s also the season for outdoor festivals like the outdoor beer games. 

Witness the cherry blossoms

The very thought that strikes our mind at the mention of Japan would be cherry blossoms. Plan your trip from late March, that’s when the trees in the warmer regions of south start blooming.

However, the trees in the northern regions start blooming only in the month of May. Apart from these two regions, if you happen to stay at Kansai or Kanto, the first blossoms of the season are in the early weeks of April.

Budget travels

In general, Japan is an expensive holiday destination. It’s not very budget-friendly. With travelers flocking from all over the globe, it’ll be tough bargaining for hotels and flights. To make the most out of your limited means, plan your trip beforehand. Target winter, from mid-January to March, to grab the best deals on hotels and flights. 

Rugby world cup

If crowds aren’t your thing, avoid traveling to Japan during the months of summer Olympics and rugby world cup. The country swarms with people from around the world and the ruckus will ruin your ideal getaway. 

Planning a trip to Japan 

Japan is a diverse country. Unless you’ve got a perfect sketch of what you want to do right from the first day to the last, you’ll end up feeling lost in a new country. You’ll waste time and money. Planning your entire trip well in advance is pretty tedious and time-consuming. But, it is very important that you do so. 

Plan your activities

Analyze your interests. Make a list of your likes, dislikes and hobbies. Thrown in a few festivals that you don’t want to miss during your stay. Japan has four seasons and each season has something unique to offer. 

Choose your destination

Once you’re done with drafting your to-do list, decide where you want to go. 

For instance, if hiking is your thing, autumns in Hokkaido are the best. The weather is the right blend that favor hikers.

For those of you who are from tropical regions, a cold retreat might sound great. Try the ski resorts in Hokkaido’s winter. 

People who are more inclined towards archaeology and spirituality must head straight to Kyoto. It is the humble abode for many temples and shrines. 

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If hiking is your thing, autumns in Hokkaido are the best

Chart out your duration of stay

Your budget is directly proportional to your stay in Japan. It’s important to get them straight. If you don’t mind spending lavishly, the duration should be the least of your worries.

The more you stay, the more you get to experience. However, not all of us are blessed with such hefty bank balances. In that case, plan your expenses before you land in Japan and start saving up. Plan a shorter stay and try to make the most out of it.

Travel visas

Make sure you have a valid passport. This might sound silly, but it is very critical that you understand that your passport should remain valid throughout your stay. If your country is exempted from a visa, you can travel with your passport.

If not, apply for a visa. Provide accurate details about flight and hotel bookings while doing so. Once your visa is issued, proceed with the next step. 

Simple itinerary

Don’t dump your schedule with more places than you can cover in a single day. Holidays are supposed to be relaxing.

Keep it simple. Don’t rely on blogs that boast of ‘7 days itinerary, 4 days itinerary.’ Understand your pace and trust your instincts. Plan according to the season that you are targeting. Once you’re done with your itinerary, purchase your Japan rail pass.

Bookings

This is a very crucial step. Book your flight and hotel. Watch out for last-minute flight deals. You never know when luck strikes, you might land a really good offer. While booking hotels, go through the reviews with the utmost care. Don’t get deceived by fake reviews and images.

Double-check everything. Make sure you book your room in advance and consider the cancellation policies. Contact the hotelier in case of any queries. For longer stays, book your hotel room near the train station. However, for shorter stays, don’t purchase a rail pass. Cabs will do. 

Invest in travel insurance

Insurance’s intention is not to dampen your spirits. But, it is wise to expect the unexpected. You never know what comes next. Extensive travelers clearly understand the importance of travel insurance. Make sure your insurance covers medical expenses, lost luggage, flight cancellation, camera breaks, etc. 

Pack your bags

As pointed out time and again, Japan has 4 seasons. So, pack according to the season you’re visiting. 

Winter in Northern Japan is extremely harsh. Pack your clothes that are ideal to survive the cold. Stock up on layers of clothes, boots, and socks to stay warm throughout your stay. 

Summers are hot and humid. There’s not much to meddle with packing. Light clothes will do. However, for early autumn and late spring, carry a light jacket as it tends to get chilly. 

Check out travel blogs and magazines

It can be a really exciting and daunting experience for people who are traveling to Japan for the very first time. Read as many travel-related blogs and magazines you can find online. They are up-to-date with tips and day to day happenings. It’s also useful to follow up on Japan’s weather and general headlines. 

Safety in Japan

Japanese people adhere to hard and fast rules, making it one of the top ten safest countries in the world. You’ll be astounded when you find children riding the subway unaccompanied, lost wallets found and returned with money intact and homes being unlocked with no negative consequences.

The country is full of surprises to a commoner. Japanese government prides itself for the lack of criminal headlines in their newspapers. 

Women power

If you’re a solo female traveler, be sure that you’ll enjoy your trip. Japanese people go out of the way to help women when they’re in a crisis. A few hotels even offer female-only accommodations. Plus, female-only cars are found in most of the trains. You’re provided with top-notch security throughout your stay.

Stop the buses when you please

All the buses are provided with a stop button just like trains. If you’re uncomfortable about something or feel that someone is not behaving the right way, just press the button to get down.

Tourist Information centers

Most of the railway stations in the country have an information center to carter to the needs of tourists. City 

Safe wallets

Crime rates are at an all-time low. Pickpockets are almost unheard of, even in crowded cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s perfectly safe to go backpacking all alone, any day, anywhere. 

Gangsters of yesteryears

It’s a cliche, the Yazuka gangsters. Gone are their days of reign. They were considered to be the violent and corrupt criminals Japan has ever come across. With the police breathing down their necks, they are scared of bothering people. 

Anti-sexual harassment

The ‘me-too’ movement has left the laws rewritten. The Japanese cabinet ministers have taken special measures to devise new laws against sexual harassment. Groping and harassing are considered illegal and are punishable by law. 

Goodbye to Fukushima disaster

The 2011 tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power station. But, there’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. The radioactive debris has been cleared and the area surrounding the plant is off-limits for everyone. So, your safety is their primary concern. 

Cleaner air

Rumor has it that Tokyo is polluted beyond limits. However, it is just a rumor. Tokyo is cleaner than Los Angeles. 

Prevention is better than cure

No country is more prepared than Japan when it comes to safety. Given that Japan is more prone to earthquakes, there are certain measures that you can follow

  • A good number of apps are available that will notify you of an oncoming disaster
  • When in an earthquake, protect yourself by taking shelter under a wooden table or desk
  • Approach the locals. They are more than willing to help you out in a crisis. 

Don’t fear the contagious diseases

When sick, people of Japan usually wear surgical masks to prevent spreading the infection. Even if the country doesn’t impress you, its humanity will sweep you off your feet. 

Visa to Japan

Visa is mandatory to visit Japan unless your country is exempted. A visitor who wishes to fly to Japan on a tour must obtain a tourist visa before entering the country. The tourist visa is a short term visa. It’s valid for 90 days. Tourist visas can be obtained for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, attending business conferences and pursuing a very short term course. 

The eligibility criteria to obtain a visa are as follows:

  • You must have a valid passport
  • The passport must be valid throughout your stay
  • The passport must have two blank pages for the visa
  • You must submit a –
  1. A copy of your completed visa application form
  2. A copy of your round trip ticket
  3. Proof of your hotel reservation and financial ability
  4. Photocopy of your birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable)
  5. A formal statement of your financial situation from the bank for the past six months
  6. Certificate of employment if your trip is not sponsored
  • You must leave Japan at the end of your authorized stay.

It’s quite normal to feel daunted by the process of applying for a visa. The entire process has been broken down into steps to make it easier. 

  1. With the internet available just a few clicks away. Nothing is a very big deal. Download the visa application form online.
  2. After downloading the form, read the application twice. Sort out any issues or doubts through the help-line. 
  3. Fill the form carefully. Do not forget to put your signature once the form is completed.
  4. The required documents are available for download along with your form. Make sure you download that. Gather all the required documents. Don’t deem anything unnecessary. If it’s mentioned, you have to produce it during verification.
  5. Create a checklist to double-check. Keep the documents ready on the previous day to avoid last-minute confusions.
  6. The photo that you provide for visa application must be a recent one. It shouldn’t be older than 6 months. The photo must meet the specifications mentioned in the visa application. Refrain from applying filters to your photo.
  7. You’ll have to pay for the visa application form. Check the fees required and the mode of payment that will be accepted by the Embassy of Japan where you are supposed to submit your application form. The fees differ depending upon the nationality of the visitor. Check with the Embassy regarding the fees beforehand. Keep the fees ready to have a hassle-free experience.  
  8. Once you are done with all the formalities, submit the visa application form along with the fees to the embassy of Japan. Approach the Embassy that’s nearest to you. Based on your country of origin, you may submit the application form in person or through an accredited travel agent who has been approved by the Embassy of Japan.
  9. You may have to attend an interview
  10. Once your visa is issued, you’ll be notified. Collect the visa after showing your invoice cum receipt provided at the time of submission. In case you want the visa delivered to your location by a travel agent, you should provide an authorized letter duly signed by you along with the invoice. 

How to save money in Japan

Though Japan is considered an expensive holiday destination, there are many loopholes that you can make use of.  

Eateries and pubs within budget

Just like other countries, Japan is also dominated by chain restaurants like Yoshinoya, Matsuya, and Sukiya. These hang-outs offer lightning deals, discounts, and occasionally seasoned dishes at an affordable price. Do check out their web pages when you are there, you don’t want to miss out on these amazing deals.

Getting street smart will save you a few bucks. Tachigui is one such local food chain where you have to dine while standing. But the lack of furnishing will actually cost you very little. 

Don’t compromise on the nightlife. Similar to chain restaurants, chain pubs called Izakaya are found in abundance. Torikizoku is a must-visit, you’ll be surprised to find that everything on the menu is  ¥298.

When it comes to supermarkets, the good old Lawson family mart comes into the picture. Be on the lookout for discounts. OK and Aeon are convenience stores where you can get your hands on some authentic baked goods and goodies. 

Walking and cycling are always the best

You might be tempted to give in to public transport. But, Japan has so much to offer within walking distance. It is one of the most pedestrian-friendly countries you’ll ever come across.

Make use of the opportunity and burn a few calories that you’ll undoubtedly add up as a result of all the mouth-watering dishes. However, renting a bicycle is also a good option. 

Public transport to the rescue

When you have to cover long distances, cabs might empty your wallet. Instead, depending on your duration of stay, purchase the Japanese Rail Pass. Commonly known as JR pass. 

Another good option would be to take the bus. Compared to railways, buses are cheaper. To check out towns far away from Tokyo, night bus services like Willer Express offers good prices and comfortable rides.

Accommodations at a fair price

If you don’t have a relative or friend’s place to return after sightseeing, plenty of accommodations are available. If you prefer something much more personal than lodges, try the capsule hotels. It is very popular among travelers.

They make you feel at home with amazing cultural experiences. Some of the capsule hotels also have a sento public bath to help you relax after a long day. They charge as low as 2000 yen per night. For social gatherings and get-togethers, guesthouses are also available at a slightly higher price. 

Personal needs

100-yen stores come in handy for everyday purchases. Goods are available at a fair price without compromising on quality. The products range from basic necessities to large appliances, cookware, clothing, and bicycles. Souvenirs and goodies can be purchased in bulk to distribute to your near and dear ones back at home.

Drugstores also sell food and drinks at a very reasonable price. Sometimes, they might be cheaper than the 100-yen shops. So check the difference in prices before you buy anything. 

Transportation in Japan

You’ll understand while calculating your budget that transportation within the country constitutes a huge amount. Compared to transit, other expenses are pretty low. Careful planning of your itinerary plays a major part.

Limiting yourself to visit a particular region and avoiding long-distance travel within the country is a foolproof method to cut down costs. However, if you wish to travel to different regions, the following modes of transport are suggested.

 Japan bus pass

 It’s one of the wallet-friendly transport options. If utilized properly, transit costs can be reduced to half. The passes can be purchased according to our needs. 3, 4 and 5 days passes are popular among the tourists.

Highway buses are suggested for long-distance travels. Though these buses are slower when compared to trains, transit expenses can be reduced unbelievably, provided you don’t mind spending a night in the bus. 

 Japan rail pass

People who have plans to travel cross-country should prefer railways. The passes can be purchased for 7, 14 and 21 consecutive days. JR passes provide unlimited, nationwide transit on almost all the trains operated in the country, including the bullet trains. 

Apart from nationwide passes, if your itinerary covers only a particular region, exclusive passes are available. These passes are called ‘regional passes’ and offers good deals. For example, JR Tokyo wide pass, Nikko pass, and Koyasan World Heritage Ticket to name a few. 

Domestic flights

If you don’t mind being lavish, domestic airlines offer comfortable transit. You’ll come across many discounts owing to the competition between the airlines and the railways. Skymark Airlines, Peach Aviation, and Jetstar Japan offer considerably low fares and bookings are done in English.

However, passes are not only limited to buses and railways, but air passes are also issued exclusively for foreigners.  

 Ferries

For people who are into trying different modes of transport, do check out the ferries. Though ferries are available only for a limited number of routes,  it can be a truly magical experience. Different classes are available and second class fares are considerably inexpensive.

 Rental cars

When holidaying as a group or if you are interested in exploring on your own, rental cars are the best option. It’s the only transport where you can enjoy your privacy. However, gas expenses and highway tolls sneak into your budget. So, plan accordingly. If convenience and privacy top your expectations, go ahead with this option. 

Package tours

You’d have come across this term everywhere. Your entire itinerary, right from your first day to last is planned by tourist agencies. You don’t have to devise an elaborate plan.

All you have to do is maintain the schedule and go with the flow. Based on the package you choose, the number of people accompanying you differs. For a higher price, you get to explore the places with just your family and a guide from the agency accompanies you.

Hitchhiking  

Though very popular among the young generation, it is not common in Japan. Will Fugerson’s book ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan’ covers this topic. But, it was last updated in 1998, rendering it almost useless. However, that shouldn’t stop you from backpacking and exploring the country the way you want it to be.

Estimated costs

Don’t stress with devising a budget plan. The following subheadings will help you choose your preferred plan. 

Flights

 On average, a roundtrip flight from most parts of the US to Japan costs around $2,300. However, booking your tickets well in advance could save you a lot. It is important to note that flight tickets depend on your boarding place, season and other factors.

If you travel from countries in Western Europe, like Germany, Spain, Portugal, and France, the roundtrip flight ticket costs approximately € 970

Traveling from Australia to Japan will amount to A$ 1,425.

Flight fares from Canada to Japan is approximately CAD 1,907

Hotels

It’s well known that Japan is an expensive holiday destination. Different hotels are available for different budgets. For those of you who don’t mind being lavish, try the luxury hotels in Tokyo. Aman Tokyo, Andaz, Conrad Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo to name a few. These star hotels charge around ¥90,000   

For people traveling as a group or family, guest houses are perfect. They can be found at different prices based on the amenities offered, ranging anywhere between ¥20,000 to ¥90,000  

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Shangri La hotel and The Ritz – Carlton are very famous among honeymooners. 

The Capsule hotels are very popular among travelers. They are really cheap at ¥2,000 per night. The hotels are packed with cultural experiences. 

Transportation 

The railways, buses, cabs, rentals and domestic flights are the means of transport within the country. Buses and railways cost the least. 

The railways offer Japan Rail Passes that can be purchased for a week or more. You gain unlimited, nationwide access. Long-distance travels cost around ¥25,000 

Highway night buses are very popular much cheaper than trains. For example, the bus pass for an entire week costs around ¥12,000

Cabs are pretty costly. Sightseeing for 2 hours costs around ¥10,000

Food

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs about ¥900

If the restaurant you choose is mid-range, a three-course meal for 2 people costs around ¥4,000

McDonald’s comes to your rescue if you are very keen on cutting down costs you spend on meals. They are as low as ¥650

Traveling with people

Backpackers needn’t worry a bit. You have to look out only for yourself as you are not responsible for anyone else. It is advised that couples book fairly decent hotels to have a really good time and privacy. 

Families are suggested to put up in guesthouses. They are more convenient in terms of space and comfort. 

Biggest festivals in Japan

Traditional Japanese festivals are called Matsuri, they are very colorful with a long history. The dates and the way these festivals are celebrated differs from community to community. More than 300,000 Matsuri festivals are celebrated in a year. The locals of that area organize the festival and the shrines sponsor them. The biggest and the most famous festivals are listed below, 

Gion Matsuri

During the month of July, the entire city of Kyoto participates in this festival. The highlight is the procession of floats called ‘Yamaboko Junko’ on 17th and 24th of July. 

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Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

Awa Odori

12th to 15th of August, Tokushima city is engulfed in a dance mania. Men, women, and children dance on the streets of the city. They wear traditional cotton kimonos teamed with straw hats. If you happen to visit Tokushima around this time of the year, do not hesitate to join them. You’ll have the time of your life. 

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Takamatsu Awa Odori Bon Festival

Kanda Matsuri

This festival is unique to Tokyo, dedicated to the Kanda Myojin shrine. The portable shrines are taken on a parade by the people. The procession starts in the morning and continues through the Kanda district, Nihonbashi, and Akihabara before returning to the shrine in the evening. 

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Lion float, Kanda Matsuri

Yuki Matsuri

It’s also called ‘The Snow Festival’ and takes place in Sapporo in the month of February. The festival originated in 1950 when local school students started making statues out of snow. However, at present, it’s a huge snow statue contest. 

Nebuta Matsuri

It is a parade festival from 2nd to 7th of August in Aomori city. Lantern floats are made in the form of human figures and are accompanied by several chanting dancers. It’s a spectacular sight. 

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Nebuta matsuri

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

It’s a thrilling contest that takes place in the city of Osaka in the middle of September. Danjiris are wooden floats which are heavier than 3000kg. People divide into teams and pull the wooden floats at breakneck speed while the crowd cheers on. 

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Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, Osaka, Japan

Tenjin Matsuri

This festival is also a procession, held on 24th and 25th of July, in Osaka. However, in addition to land procession, a river procession via boats also occur. 

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Osaka Tenjin Matsuri Festibal Funatogyo

Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri

It’s relatively a new festival that was started in 1954, in Kochi, as a tribute to the birth of Yosakoi Naruko dance. It is a passionate dance to an old folk song. Dancers carry clappers called ‘Naruko’ that creates a click-clack sound. To take part in this power-packed festival, visit Kochi in the middle of August.

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Yosakoi Performers at Kochi Yosakoi Matsuri

Tanabata Matsuri

 This festival originated as a result of cultural contact between the Japanese and Chinese. It is based on the legend of two Chinese stars, Altair and Vega. If you visit the Sendai City from the 6th to the 8th of August, you’ll find colorfully crafted paper decorations hanging in the streets. 

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Shōnan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri

Hakata Dontaku Matsuri

It’s held on 3rd and 4th of May in Fukuoka City. It is a combination of dance and procession. People dance and parade with a utensil used for serving rice, called ‘Shamoji.

Best sites to visit

Divide your visit into three parts – Northern Japan, Southern Japan and the Tokyo area (Central Japan). Cover each area one at a time to make the most of your holiday. Don’t rush around, enjoy every minute. The best sites to visit in each region are listed below,

Places to visit in Northern Japan

The first thing that you’ll note is the greenery. North Japan is clean, green, welcoming, and historic in its own way. It is very similar to New Zealand. But, fabulous in its own old-world charm. 

Attractions

The western side of North Japan borders the Sea of Japan. It is lined with rivers, flatlands, and fertile rice farmlands. Visit the samurai district of Kakunodate, it is well-known for its cherry trees in spring. Stroll around the village and engage with the craftsmen. 

One shouldn’t miss the Akita museum of art which houses large collections of the famous Western-style painter, Fujita Tsuguharu. Bordering Akita, lake Towada is at the top of a 400-meter-high mountain. It’s a good retreat for hiking. 

Next, visit Aomori, the northernmost region on Honshu, that has the world’s largest virgin forest of the beech tree. It is added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites. 

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Hirosaki, Japan, Aomori

Markets

When in Hakodate, visit the morning market for breakfast. It has many stalls to keep you munching through a variety of seafood.

Similarly Ekini market is a photographer’s paradise. The display of seafood will stun you. 

Nature

Every place, even the fish markets in Hokkaido are rich in greenery. However, to point out specifically, Shiretoko National Park and Daisetsuzan National Park are very popular places to witness really unique flora and fauna.

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Shiretoko National Park. Hokkaido, Japan

Jewelry ice is a phenomenon that occurs in Otsu shores of North Japan. It is formed from ice in the Tokachi River. It looks splendid. 

Travel with kids

Take your kids to Shiroi Koibito Park. Let them squeal with delight on the different train rides. Here, you’ll find the Shiroi Koibito Factory, where the famous Hokkaido cookies are baked is a must-visit. Amazing lessons on skiing are taught for kids here. 

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Shiroi Koibito Park

Best Packages

9 Days Charms of Hokkaido tour is a package that comes at a decent price. The package is available for three seasons – The cherry blossoms, winter festivals and summer flowers.  

Places to visit in Tokyo (Central Japan) 

As mentioned previously, Tokyo is the capital of Japan. It is full of life and energy. The city, home to many companies, is dominated by some of the tallest skyscrapers. 

Attractions

Tokyo sky tower is one of the largest towers in the world. It has an observation deck, so feel free to get on top of the tower and enjoy the view it offers. 

Do visit the imperial palace, its 17th-century parks are well-preserved and are surrounded by moats and walls.

Next, visit shrines in Tokyo. The architecture will blow your mind. Senso-ji temple, Asakusa temple and the Meji shrine are notable sites. 

Don’t miss out on the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo National Museum and National Museum of Nature and Science. 

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Tokyo sky tower
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Imperial palace

Markets

The top 6 markets to visit in Tokyo are listed below,

  1. Nakamise Shopping street – Mementos 
  2. Mottainai Flea Market – Retro clothing
  3. Takeshita Dori – Harajuku fashion
  4. Boro-Ichi Street Mart – Folk cultural asset
  5. Ameya Yokocho – Candies
  6. Toyosu Fish Market – Seafood
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Takeshita Dori market
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Toyosu Fish Market

Nature

To get lost in the greenery, visit Ueno Park in Tokyo. You’ll be astonished to find a paradise of an oasis in the heart of the busy city. 

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Ueno Park in Tokyo

Mount Fuji, one of the three holy mountains of Japan, is located 2 hours driving southwest from Tokyo. No holiday in Japan is complete without climbing the mountain to revel in the sunrise. 

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One of the most famous mountains in the world, Mount Fuji

Travel with kids 

What more could kids ask for other than Disneyland? With lots of emphasis on Mickey, Minnie, and the gang, it’ll turn out to be the best vacation for your kids. Fire Museum is another cool place. Your kids get to dress up as firemen and play with firetrucks.

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Travel with kids to Disneyland Tokyo
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Fire Museum in Tokyo

Best Packages

Based on your interests, tour packages are available to cater to everyone’s need.

  1. The Tokyo day tour covers Meji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay cruise.
  2. Kyoto Highlights tour the Golden Pavilion and the Kiyomizu temple
  3. Small group Tokyo Biking Tour for ride enthusiasts. 
  4. One day Tokyo bus tour and Japanese food tour. 
  5. Tokyo Pub Crawl 
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Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

Places to visit in Southern Japan

It’s one of the least explored regions of Japan. However, it must make it to your bucket list for its pure authenticity and tradition. 

Attractions

Trace Shikoku’s pilgrimage trail. It’s sure to attract both Buddhists and eco-tourists. 

Do not forget to pay your respects at Hiroshima. In spite of the scars endured by the people of Hiroshima, they’ve built a city more powerful and colorful than the previous one. It’s a city that has risen from its ashes.

Do check out the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. It’s is the city’s must-see sight, a sober reminder of the blast.  

Nature

Do not miss Naruto Whirlpools, they’re a fascinating phenomenon. Take your tourist boat on a spin around the whirlpool.

Nowadays, getting access to subtropical Yakushima’s island is not a big deal. You get an opportunity to hike among massive cedar trees that are at least a thousand years old.

Market

Hiroshima is a city re-built on its very destruction. In spite of the disaster, the city booms with trade. The list of popular markets are as follows,

  1. Senda Wasshoi Matsuri Flea Market – Collectibles, food stalls and live entertainment
  2. Portpia – Antiques and clothing
  3. Daisho-in’s Tsuitachi-ichi – Old kimonos, handmade jewelry and books

Travel with kids 

Take your kids on a day out to Dkunoshima – Hiroshima Rabbit Island. The bunnies are really cute and your kids will have a good time playing with them.

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Dkunoshima – Hiroshima Rabbit Island

Best Packages

A number of tour packages are available that covers the important attractions of South Japan. Pick the ones that suit your itinerary.

  1. 1-day Hiroshima and Miyajima (Round-trip from Osaka/Kyoto)
  2. Private taxi tour to the Rabbit Island
  3. 2-day Hiroshima and Kurashiki tour
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Hiroshima peace memorial

Best Japanese experience

On your visit to Japan, ensure that you don’t miss out on the following places and the experiences they offer. 

Tsukiji Market

Like every other Asian country, Japan is also unique. Certain spices that are native to Japan cannot be found elsewhere. The market is closed on Sundays and Wednesdays. So, plan your trip accordingly. Whether you want to eat or shop for culinary supplies, Tsukiji market won’t let you down. You name it, they’ve got it. Stock up!

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Tsukiji Market

Luxury hotels in Tokyo

Pamper yourself for at least a day in one of the luxury hotels of Tokyo. The city is loaded with beautiful hotels. Aman Tokyo, Andaz, Conrad Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo to name a few. 

The art island

For all the creative minds and art lovers out there, Naoshima is a must-visit. It has one of the mind-blowing museums in the world, housing some of the great works of world-class artists. 

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Naoshima, for art lovers

Bamboo Forest

While visiting Kyoto, don’t miss out on the bamboo forest. Iconic bamboo forests and Zem temples are located on the outskirts of Kyoto, in the Arashiyama district. The trip is really worth it. 

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Bamboo forest, Kyoto

Ramen

Your holiday in Japan is not really completed without a bowl of ramen. Wherever you go in Japan, you’ll come across the best ramen serving shops. Dig your chopsticks into a steaming hot bowl of authentic ramen. 

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A hot bowl of ramen

Shinkansen

The bullet train (Shinkansen) must top your to-do list. The ride will leave you in awe of the technology Japan is capable of. Throughout the ride, you’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful landscapes it zips by. 

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It’s almost impossible to travel in Japan without using the Shinkansen

Shushi

What’s a vacation in Japan without Sushi? It’s almost meaningless. Bask in the aroma of seafood and vinegared rice.

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Get your kids used to it

Cherry blossoms

Please don’t mind the crowd. Witness the blossoms, the most magical time of year in Japan. The parks and gardens in the country are canopied in a riot of pretty pink flowers. 

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Cherry blossoms, the most magical time of year in Japan

A walk through the woods

Hikers will never have a dull moment in Japan for it’s a hiker’s paradise. Two of the best places are the Nakasendo trail and Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route

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Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, like heaven

Taste sake

There’s no place more apt for sake than Japan. The country is lined with sake bars, shops or restaurants specializing in high-quality sake

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In the fifth glass, you will stop counting

Castles

Most of the castles you come across in Japan are reconstructions. However, the famous  Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle are truly magnificent. They’ve been well-maintained after all these years and holds the essence of ancient Japanese architecture. 

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Matsumoto Castle, like a painting

Matcha green tea

Treat yourself to a heart-warming cup of green tea. It not only tastes heavenly but is intact with all the goodness of tea leaves. You’ll find plenty of charming tea houses in Japan.

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Green tee, it’s healthy as well

Islands of Okinawa

Don’t let your holiday be monotonous. Do check out the beautiful beaches of the islands of Okinawa. They are very different from the rest of Japan. 

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Modern Architecture

Not only does ancient architecture dominate Japan, Tokyo has some stunning world-class buildings constructed by both Japanese and non-Japanese architects. 

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Tokyo architecture

Climb Mount Fuji

It might sound daunting, but it’s really worth it when you reach the summit to view the sunrise. 

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You will then eat more in a quiet conscience 🙂

Best Attractions in Japan

Japan is a land full of surprises and an amazing place for all tourists and travelers. Although there are hundreds of attractions in Japan, here is a list of the best lot of places for you to explore.

Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and brings out the best of Japanese culture in every way. Your trip will be incomplete without a visit to Tokyo. There is huge scope for you to explore in Tokyo ranging from historical sites to the anime culture and the lip-smacking Japanese cuisine. The top attractions in Tokyo are:

  • Tokyo Disneyland
  • Disney Sea in Tokyo
  • Sky Tree Tokyo

What you can mainly do in Tokyo include:

  • An evening around the Tokyo Tower
  • Visit the Meiji Shrine in all its glory
  • Shopping in Odaiba

Kyoto

Kyoto is considered as one of the sacred cities of Japan and is a common name in the list of all Japan trip packages. Kyoto is known for its gardens, palaces, shrines and temples and some beautiful bamboo forests. The versatility of the attractions a single city has to offer is amazing. The top attractions in Kyoto are:

  • The Imperial Palace of Kyoto
  • The Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine
  • The Philosopher’s Walk

Some activities for you in Kyoto that you should not miss are:

  • A visit to the Kiyomizu Temple
  • Visit the famous Kinkaku-Ji
  • Exploring the majestic Nijo Castle

Nara

A common mention of Nara can be found in any Japan travel blog. This city is known for the several monasteries, temples, shrines and of course the very important Nara Park. Nara is also home to many beautiful deer. Therefore, a visit to Nara will bring you closer to Japanese culture and tradition. The top 3 attractions in Kara are:

  • Nara Park
  • The Ninja Museum in Igaryu
  • Kasuga-Taisha

The unmissable things to do in Kara are:

  • Exploring the beauty of the Isuien Garden
  • Interacting with the deer at the Nara-Koen Park
  • A visit to the National Museum of Nara.

Hokkaido

An ideal place to visit during summer especially, Hokkaido has several hot springs here. Besides this, there are some volcanoes and ski areas which make it more popular as a tourist attraction. The variety of places to visit and scope of activities, make it a favorite of adults and kids alike. The best places that you should not give a miss are:

  • Asahiyama Zoo
  • The Blue Pond
  • Farm Tomita

The major tourist activities here include:

  • Bathing in a hot spring
  • Exploring the National Parks here
  • Gorging into the delicious sea-food

Ishigaki

This is a small island and is presently voted as the most popular tourist attraction in Japan. Hundreds of tourist flock over here because of the scope of various activities that you can experience in Ishigaki. The top attractions here include:

  • The Kabira bay
  • Limestone caves in Ishigaki
  • Taketomi Island

Top activities that you can experience in Ishigaki include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Relaxing by the beach
  • Devour the taste of Ishigaki beef

Hiroshima

This city makes Japan more beautiful and also glorifies the history of Japan. This was the victim of the terrible atomic bombings along with its neighboring city of Nagasaki. Though tourists mainly visit Hiroshima to pay their respect to the victims of the bombing and to visit the memorials, there is a lot more than that here. Places to visit for sure includes:

  • Hiroshima Museum and the Memorial Peace Park
  • Itsukushima
  • Hiroshima Castle

Activities to do here are:

  • Try the delicious Okonomiyaki
  • Visit Shukkeien Garden
  • Exploring the Mazda Museum

Sapporo

This is heaven for ski and beer lovers and also the Winter destination of Japan. You should visit this place when you are tired of the heat around and see the several snow towers here. Besides, the Annual Sapporo Snow Festival is an important time to visit Sapporo. Top attractions in Sapporo include:

  • Moerenuma Park
  • Moiwa
  • Government Office of Hokkaido

What you can do in Hokkaido includes:

  • Attend a party in Susukino
  • Explore the Beer museum in Sapporo
  • Taste the amazing local delicacies in the Curb Market area

Osaka

Osaka is one of the best shopping destinations in Japan. Also, it is known for selling some of the most delicious food in the country. You visit Osaka and shop till you drop. Then get yourself a delicious meal and relax. Secondly, Osaka has an awesome nightlife. It is like an all-in-one place for all that you can wish for as a tourist. The three main attractions here are:

  • Studio Universal Japan
  • Dotonbori
  • Osaka Castle

Three best activities here:

  • Visiting the Kaiyukan Aquarium
  • Partying and beer tasting
  • Worship in the Hozenji temple

Yakushima

Yakushima is an island that is part of the Kagoshima Prefecture. It is known for its waterfalls, cedar forests, and wildlife. The natural beauty of Yakushima is a treat for your eyes and you should not miss this place on any cost. Moreover, if you are traveling to Japan for the first time, this should be one of the top 10 places to visit on your list. The best 3 attractions here are:

  • JomonSugi
  • Miyanoura
  • Senpirono Falls

The best tourist activities are:

  • Going to Oko-no-Taki Waterfall
  • Watching turtles lay eggs
  • Canoeing or kayaking in Anbo River

Hakuba

Hakuba is a small village situated in the Japanese Alps. It is also known as the best location for any kind of winter sports such as snowboarding, hiking, and skiing. Hakuba just sticks out a little of Nagano- a Japanese city. Several mountain resorts organize sports and other tours. The top three attractions in Hakuba are:

  • Winter Resort of HakubaHappone
  • Aoki Lake
  • Shirouma

The best activities to do here:

  • Skiing at Cortina Resort
  • Happo Pond hiking
  • Going to the Hakuba 47 which is a sports park for Winter season

Kamakura

Kamakura is a town situated by the sea. It is known as a replica of the city of Kyoto. The difference is just that Kamakura is located in eastern Japan. Kamakura boasts of bamboo groves, ancient shrines and temples, beautiful beaches, shopping destinations, and the best local food. You ask for something and you are sure to get it here. You should not miss

  • Literature Museum in Kamakura
  • Enoshima Aquarium
  • Kannon Museum

Activities:

  • Visit the Kamakura Buddha
  • Go to the Jufukuji Temple
  • Experience surfing at the Shonan Beach

Nagano

Nagano is the tropical capital of Japan and mainly known for its breezy weather throughout the year. There is a variety of tourist attractions here ranging from adventure sports clubs to children’s parks and shrines too. The best attractions of Nagano are:

  • Karuizawa
  • Kamikouchi
  • Matsumoto Castle

Activity ideas for you:

  • Visiting Zenko-Ji Temple
  • Freshen up at the ShirahoneOnsen
  • Take part in winter sports such as skiing at the Shiga Kogen Heights

Takayama

When all the cities are getting more and more commercial, Takayama, situated on top of the Gifu mountains is a peaceful retreat. Get away from the hustle-bustle of the cities and spend some time in Old Japan. Takayama has a special old-school aura to it which is very different from all other attractions on the list. Attractions that you must visit are:

  • Hidan Sato
  • District of SanmachiSuji
  • Takayama Hall of Festival Floats

Shibuya

Shibuya is one of the most crowded places in Japan because of 2 reasons mainly. First, the awesome-looking crossing which is also known as ‘scramble crossing’ and the several options for shopping here. The best shopping destination in Shibuya is 109 Mall. It is a one-stop destination for the best brands in Tokyo. The best attractions are:

  • Yoyogi Park
  • Omotesando
  • Meiji Jingu

Best to-do ideas for you:

  • Shop at the Takeshita Streets
  • Enjoy clubbing at Roppongi
  • Enjoy the views from the Roppongi hills

Naoshima

This is a beautiful island situated in the middle of the Seto Inland waters. If you are staying for a few days in Tokyo, you can go Naoshima to end your Tokyo trip in the best way. There are several sculptures and museums here and you are sure to be busy the whole day. It is not very close to Tokyo so you should make an overnight plan for a better experience.

Must visit places:

  • Museum Lee Ufan
  • Naoshima Bath
  • Benesse House

What you must do here:

  • Explore Chichu Museum and enjoy Tadao Ando Art
  • Spend some time in the cherry blossom gardens
  • Go to Kojin Island for some peaceful time

Asakusa

Asakusa is known as the cultural hub of the capital city of Tokyo. The Asahi Beer Hall is the prime attraction of Asakusa. There are many other places of interest here. Asakusa is party paradise for fun-loving people and you can try some awesome booze. A Nakamise shopping area is an ideal place for street shopping. The other major attractions are:

  • Asakusa Shrine
  • Hanayashaki Children’s Park
  • Amuse Museum

Things you could do:

  • Meditate at Senso-Ji
  • Visit the Kappabashi-Dori restaurant street for A-Class food
  • Enjoy game time at Nazoboko Escape Game in Tokyo

Akihabara

Akihabara is the ‘Geek Capital of the World’. This is because it is a hub for several computers and other video game clubs. The Fantastical Akihabara is the best out of all. Visit Akihabara for an amazing gaming session. Just beware of any kind of hoax. The best tourist attractions in Akihabara are:

  • Anime Center Akihabara
  • Ginza Crossing
  • RyojokuEdonoren

Ideal activity option for you are:

  • Shopping at 2k540 in Aki-Oka
  • Tour Akihabara on a bike. You can get one on rent easily.
  • Visit the Chidorigafuchi Moat for the beautiful greenery

Mt. Fuji

The thrill factor in Japan mainly comes from Mt. Fuji. If you into adventure sports and trekking, then Mt. Fuji is the ideal place for you. While the trekking season only lasts from July to September, you can always experience the grandeur of Mt. Fuji from far away for the rest of the year. The top 3 attractions around Mt. Fuji are:

  • Mount Tenjo
  • Shrine of FujiyoshidaSengen
  • Chureito Pagoda

You can:

    • Do a lot of skiing
    • Explore the ArakurayamaSengen Park
    • Stand near the 5th station of Subashiri for a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji

Best Attractions for Kids

When we go for trips and tours, we hardly plan separately for our children. However, they are the ones who get mostly bored at shrines and art museums. Children always like lively and bright places. With Japan’s friendly culture and options to visit for kids, it is now possible to keep your child happy and content while the adults go about their plans. The main attractions to visit when you travel to Japan with kids are:

  1. Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo

Tokyo is always a crowded city but the large area will not let you feel that you are in a crowded place at all. Takeshita Street here is a small block where you will find an array of cute little shops where you can take your children to. Besides, you can buy the kids some yummy crepes and bubble tea. For more, grab a fairy floss on the way back from there.

  1. Harajuku Hedgehog Café

This is not a complete children’s café but there is a lovely attraction for children here. While the adults can chat over a hot cup of coffee, the kids can grab some pet-themed muffins and pastries along with some shakes.

  1. Kiddiland in Shibuya, Tokyo

Have you ever seen a 5-story building which is all filled with toys? Well, Kiddiland is exactly that. They have so much for children to buy and to play with too. You can let the kids have all the fun they want to. The highlights of Kiddiland are the nano-lego toys, the hello kitty stuff and origami work display here. There is so much color over here that you might forget your age and end up buying some of this cute stuff from here.

  1. District Odaiba, Tokyo

Your visit to Odaiba will give you weird yet awesome experience step by step. First, you will take a ride in a monorail which will take you past replica of Japan with some futuristic buildings and different-looking streets. Then you have to visit the Science and Fiction Museum called Miraikan. You will also be able to interact with Asimo, the human-like robot in the museum.

  1. Shinjuku

This is a very exciting and colorful place in Tokyo which lights up when it gets dark in the evening. The kids can sit here with some candy and enjoy the neon-lights show. The highlight of this show is the creation of the Godzilla that rises from behind the Chancery Hotel here. Apart from this, you can also take the kids to SeaWorld for some 3-D experience and to Karaoke kan for some fun music.

  1. Snow in the Japanese Alps

We already know about Hakuba from the list of attractions and that it is located in the Japanese Alps. You can take a train ride from Tokyo along with your kids and let them enjoy the pristine, white snow. Make snowballs and do gliding with them in Hakuba.

  1. Food Court Basement

In every department store, there is a basement which has a huge display of some of the most colorful and exotic foodstuff. You should be adventurous enough to get inside these shops and try the food to experience a new taste.

  1. Osaka Universal Studio and Tokyo Disney

These are some of the most expensive in a whole lot of kid’s places here. You may not take your kids if they are too small to enjoy the total experience of these places. However, they are surely big names in the list of tourist attractions for kids in Japan.

Best Nature Parks and Sites

Japan is home to several serene National Parks and other bits and parts of tranquility and natural beauty. The following are some of the most beautiful National Parks of Japan:

  1. Kerama She

This national park is in the Okinawa Prefecture and encompasses the Kerama Islands. The stunning turquoise-blue waters and white beaches. Snorkeling and swimming are the most common activities to experience here.

  1. Shiretoko Park

This national park in Hokkaido is mainly known for its brown bears. It is named as one of the World Heritage Sites under UNESCO. You can take a boat wildlife safari of this National Park.

  1. Akan National Park

This is also an attraction in the Hokkaido city of Japan. The highlight of this park is the group of volcanoes that surround the three pristine lakes here. The famous Lake Mashu is one of the three lakes here.

  1. Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park is another World Heritage Site under UNESCO. It is a part of the Kanto region of Japan and houses the Toshogu Shrine. The Kinugawa Onsen is a town of hot spring by the Kinu River banks.

  1. Yoshino- Kumano

The name comes from the fact that the Mt. Yoshino is aa part of this National Park. The Kumano Sanzan is a collection of shrines which is also a part of this park. This park is also one of the top Spring attractions of Japan due to the abundance of lush cherry blossoms growing here.

Night-life in Tokyo

Tokyo is a modern city full of life and light. The nightlife in Tokyo is exciting and fun for party-lovers. There are several nightlife spots in Tokyo including restaurants, bar, cocktail joints, clubs, and karaoke to stay energetic throughout the night. Some of the highlighted places of Tokyo nightlife are:

  1. Ginza

If you do not enjoy noisy and loud nightclubs then this is the place for you. This place is for posh people who only visit upscale clubs and subtle parties. This is also one of the most expensive shopping streets along with the pricey restaurants. You can go to one of the member-only clubs to party gracefully.

  1. Roppongi

This place is mostly occupied by foreigners and is thus known for the presence of Western culture here. The clubs and pubs here are full of celebrities and other influential people. Most of the restaurants and clubs here open till morning.

  1. Shibuya

Shibuya is the place for young fashionistas and social media obsessed people. This is one of the most lit places in Tokyo and something is happening here 24/7. There is a lot of live music and karaoke in Shibuya and something for everyone’s taste.

  1. Shinjuku

This is another famous night-life district in Tokyo with shops open 24/7. Shinjuku is known for clubs, pubs, bars, and mainly Tokyo’s red-light area.

Routes for Most Effective Time Usage

The transport system in Japan is a little complicated and it takes time to understand it. You have to first know that there are several ways of commuting easily from one place to another. You can vouch on Google maps for the best and shortest routes. The types of transportation include Jr Railways, private trains, subways if you want to walk and cover short distances and a variety of bus operators.

Shopping in Japan

Shopping is the favorite pastime for many people and Japan is a common favorite for many. There are several places to shop in Japan and here is a list of the most popular ones:

  1. Ginza

This is an immensely versatile location which is also known as one of the popular shopping destinations of Japan. The main places to shop here are the departmental stores and the luxury brand shops.

  1. Shinjuku

Almost like Ginza, Shinjuku is known for high-end shopping brands and clothes for young people. You can also do a lot of street shopping here.

  1. Ikebukuro

This is an old shopping location and is known as a famous market where you would like to shop for electronic items.

  1. Akihabara

Known as the “Geek Capital of the World”, this place is known for the plenty of game parlors and underground anime, manga art, and geek culture. You can also shop for gadgets and other electronic items from here.

  1. Shibuya and Harajuku

Both of these places have walking distance from each other. This is the International shopping street in Japan which comprises of outlets of major International fashion brands such a Zara and Forever21.

Medical Treatment in Japan

Medical treatment system in Japan is highly effective. They provide high-end treatment for screening, prenatal problems, and other infection-causing diseases. The patients here ow only 30% of the total treatment cost and the rest of the 70% is borne by the Japanese Government.

If you are a tourist, you are suggested to purchase good travel insurance which will cover any serious illness or accident in the foreign land. If you are a tourist, you cannot expect the Japanese government to share a major part of your health care expenses except under very rare situations.

Best Local Food in Japan

Japanese cuisine is one of the most loved and ate cuisine in the world. The number 5 is very important when it comes to Japanese cooking or ‘Washoku’ here.     The balance in Japanese food can be achieved by maintaining 5 colors including black, red, green, yellow and white. There are also 5 ways of cooking including raw food, frying, grilling, boiling and steaming. Most importantly, the 5 flavors include sweet, bitter, spicy, sour and salty. Some of the best Japanese traditional dishes are:

  1. Sushi

This is a type of ancient Japanese cuisine which was born by preserving fish in fermented rice. Presently, it is served with vinegar flavored rice and fresh fish.

  1. Sashimi

This is the old form of eating sushi without rice. Sashimi means any thinly sliced piece of meat including beef, chicken, fish or any other seafood.

  1. Tempura

This is a process of batter frying fish, vegetable, meat or any other sea-food. In this process, the temperature of the batter should be very cold and the oil for frying should be boiling. It uses some dipping sauce on the side or the tempura is dipped in some flavored salt.

  1. Yakitori

This is the process of cooking cuts of bite-sized pieces of meat on skewers. This process became popular in the mid-17th century. Before that, meat was rarely eaten in Japan.

  1. Miso Soup

This is a comparatively simple but a very hearty meal for the Japanese people. This is mainly made with dashi stock which may be kelp or fish stock. Any seasonal meat and vegetables are added to this soup along with miso bean paste for beautiful umami in it.

Best Hotels in Japan

Some of the best hotels to stay in Japan are:

  1. NIPPONIA Sawara Merchant Town Hotel: This is a luxury hotel with AC accommodation and beautiful rooms. The rooms are separate houses with pretty balconies. There is also the availability of multi-cuisine food here. A night here costs around 44,783 JPY.
  2. Narita View Hotel: The highlights of this hotel are the hot spring bath, free wired internet, and shuttle facility. This is a budget hotel that costs about 4,612 JPY.
  3. Hotel Universal Port Vita: This hotel has comfortable AC accommodation, high-end TVs and courteous and friendly staff. Cost of a night here is 14,285 JPY.
  4. Kamon Hotel Namba: This is a modern hotel with beautiful interiors and courteous staff. The location is very close to the Nippombashi Railways station. One night in this hotel costs approx. 5842 JPY.
  5. ICI Hotel Akasaka by RELIEF: this is a 3-star hotel in Tokyo with a well-furnished room, an amazing terrace, a bar, and a restaurant. They also have free internet facilities. A night here costs 7,936 JPY.

Recommended Insurance in Japan

Whether you travel to Japan alone or in a group, travel insurance is a must. You will not know what to do in a foreign land in case of any mishap and this is when good travel insurance comes handy. The main benefits of purchasing travel insurance include:

  • 24/7 helpline in case of any emergency or urgent query.
  • Besides from Travel to Japan vaccinations, you will receive medical assistance at any time and anywhere you are in Japan. Starting from evacuation to repatriation, the insurance company looks after everything.
  • They assure your baggage protection
  • Your travel insurance company covers any kind of medical or dental emergency when you are traveling overseas.
  • They help in easy trip cancellation.

Apart from assisting you at any time of the day, they cover several adventure sports under various categories. The categories include snow sports, aerial sports, water sports, normal field sports and more. The top examples that are covered by your travel insurance are bobsledding, tennis, mountain biking, tubing, skiing and more. The general activities covered under good travel insurance includes hospitality, admin work, restaurant, teaching and fruit picking.

FAQ

  1. How Much Does It Cost to Vacation in Japan?

Japan is a little more expensive than the neighboring Asian countries. This should not be the reason however for not visiting Japan. It is a little difficult to calculate the cost of a vacation in Japan to be exact. For this, you first have to chalk out a proper plan including the number of days you want to stay and the part of Japan you would want to cover.

It is next to impossible to travel to Japan completely even if you stay there for a month. On average, a 2-week trip would need a budget of $1200 out of which a major part will vanish if you include a rail pass. The average cost for a week would come up to $560 and at $80/day.

  1. How Much Money Do You Need Per Day in Japan?

Japan is often considered as one of the expensive countries for a vacation which is however not true. On the contrary, if you are planning to travel around a lot, stay at western hotels and eat at the best places, the scene can be a little different. In that case, you may have to spend about $200 per day which is quite a lot.

However, your vacation need not be that expensive actually. You can travel at a lot less if you keep control of your pocket and follow a few tips and tricks on where to save money. If you want to take up a budget trip, even $70-$75 is enough for a day. Some people have ever stayed in Japan at a bare minimum of $50 per day.

  1. How Much Does a 2 Week Trip to Japan Cost?

First, you have to plan which part of Japan you want to cover within 2 weeks. Once you have done that and also read tips on how you can cut off on your budget, you are good to go. You should need about $1200 for 2 weeks if you are on a mid-budget trip.

  1. What Can You Do in Japan for 10 Days?

10 days is very less time to cover even a small part of Japan but you are suggested to make the most of it during your stay. Allot the first 4 days to explore the best of Kyoto. Kyoto houses more than 2,000 shrines and temples. You just have to choose which ones to visit. You can divide the 4-day trip in this way:

  • Higashiyama

A good way to start touring Kyoto is to visit Higashiyama which is a well-preserved heritage site. There are several tea-houses, temples, Japanese gardens, and shrines in Higashiyama. It is best to explore this place on foot. The best place here is the Kiyomizu-Dera temple.

  • Kinkaku-Ji and Arashiyama

On day-2, you can go to Arashiyama, which is district towards West Kyoto. The highlight of this district is the tall bamboo groves. It is usually a crowded place and you should reach their early to avoid such crowd. The Iwatayama Monkey Park and the Golden Temple or Kikaku-Ji are the best places that follow.

  • Fushimi Inari, Markets and the Manga Museum

The stunning Fushimi Inari is known for its Torii Gates, all orange in color. The pathway of gates is on the mountainsides and the crowd keeps reducing the higher you walk. After spending a couple of hours in this forest area, you can come down to Kyoto and head straight to the Manga Museum.

The Museum and the collection of comic books here highlight the famous pop culture of Japan. This is where you can get the best collection of Manga art and books. You can finish the day with a visit to the Nishiki Market. It is a small market that just covers 5 blocks of the shopping street.

  • Day-4 of your trip can cover the Edo Era highlight of Japan or the Nijo Castle. It is a 400-year old monument with amazing architecture and beautiful Japanese Gardens. You can also include Nara, Karama, and Kibune on the same day.
  • On day-5 you can experience the famous bullet train journey to Tokyo. These trains are also called shinkansen. On your way from Kyoto till Tokyo, try to take a seat on the left side to get a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji on the way.

The rest of the 5 days should be completely dedicated to Tokyo as you have so much to explore here. Starting from amazing food to nightlife, city scenes, bridges, gardens, shopping and everything you can think of. You name it and you get it in Tokyo. The main places that you should visit in and around Tokyo are Harajuku and Shibuya, Ueno and Asakusa, Shinjuku and Tsukiji Market, Hakone and finally all the shopping destinations here.

  1. Is Food Expensive in Japan?

It depends completely on what you choose to eat. Japan is known for sushi and sashimi but these are quite expensive when compared with other stuff here. If you choose soups, rice bowls and ramen bowls over other pricey food, you can cut down on your expenses. Also, food carts, food trains, and roadside shops sell cheaper food than in the other western restaurants. Fresh fruits are quite expensive here.

  1. Are 5 Days in Tokyo Enough?

Honestly, 5 days or even 10 days is not enough to explore everything in Tokyo. A lot of people have said that they could not explore Tokyo completely even after staying there for a few years. However, if you have the 5 days planned out, then at least you can get an idea of some places and activities in Tokyo.

  1. How Many Days in Japan is Enough?

You have to stay here for years to explore all parts of Japan and still not be content. For starters, you can plan a 1- month trip to Japan to elaborately explore at least some parts of the country. Mostly, people visit Japan for a week or maximum of 10 days but tourism in the country is increasing at a fast pace.

  1. How Much is McDonald’s in Japan?

McDonald’s is one of the premium food outlets even in Japan. The menu has several dishes to offer. The price of food here ranges from 200Yen to as much as 750 Yen.

  1. How Long Do You Need in Hiroshima?

Hiroshima is a historic place in Japan which is mainly known for its museums and memorials. However, if you start in the morning from Kyoto, you could reach Hiroshima in not much time. You can spend the late morning and afternoon exploring Hiroshima and then move to another place in the evening.

  1. What Month is The Cheapest to Fly to Japan?

The peak season of Japan in July is in June-July. October is when the travel fare is lowest in Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

Buddhist Symbols Overview

The religion of Buddhism is entirely based on the teachings that Buddha taught. Buddha spent a great deal of his life by knowing that worldly possessions do not equal happiness. On the other hand, he proclaimed that wisdom, morality, and the feeling of contentment worked positively in making a person happy.

Till today, Buddhism’s religion has over 500 million followers who are spread all across the globe. However, the majority of Buddhist people can be found on the continent of Asia.

One of the Buddhist religion’s critical features is that they use a particular set of symbols to signify specific aspects of dharma. These symbols are used in the faith to impart knowledge of Buddha among the standard population. According to East Asian cultures, the cultures of East India, several symbols associated with Buddhism represent the array of gifts that God presented to Buddha right after he achieved his enlightenment.

Several Buddhist symbols exist in the religion, and most of the Buddhist symbols and their meanings are discussed below.

The meaning of life in Buddhism

The sole purpose of life in Buddhism is to end suffering. As humans, the teachings state that we will continue to suffer if we are continually striving after material things that do not give a long-lasting solution to happiness. The unending quest to hold on to these things often leads to desperation and causes sorrow.

It’s undeniable that material things give us joy, but the fact that none of them lasts forever means that their loss often causes more suffering.

Buddhist symbols and their meaning
Two little Buddhist monks in Myanmar

Buddha usually focused his teachings on this problem and its solution. He taught the importance of recognizing the impermanence of material things to free ourselves from excessive attachment.

When a person is not very much attached to material things, it lessens the suffering and eventually ends the rebirth cycle.

The Buddha and early Buddhists advocated the monastic life as the surest way to accomplish enlightenment. In Buddhism, it’s generally believed that one has to be reborn as a nun or as a monk before attaining enlightenment.

It is also believed that one can attain enlightenment through contemplation, yoga, and other ritual means through mantras and special postures.

A brief history of symbolism in Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion that is centered on compassion and wisdom and dates to way back. For this reason, it has a bucket load of history. 7.1 percent of the total world population is Buddhist- this translates to over 500 million followers worldwide. Buddhism has numerous teachings and symbols that help people to learn about the religion itself.

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Buddhism’s symbolism is believed to date back to a couple of centuries that immediately followed Buddha’s death.

At this time, people started representing Buddha’s teachings through art and symbols.

One of the earliest symbols was the wheel of dharma, which Buddha used to illustrate his teachings. The historical Buddha lived during the 6th century BCE.

The use of symbolism in Buddhism may also be attributed to the fact that Buddha used quite a several images in his teachings. After his death and as Buddhism continued to spread, Buddhism symbols became more common.

The first archeological evidence was first comprised of art symbols, mainly stone carvings that date back to the period during which Emperor Asoka reigned. He played a huge role in popularizing Buddhism and helping it spread inside India and beyond.

Some of the earliest and most popular symbols in Buddhism include the lotus flower, the stupa, and the Dharma wheel. The lotus flower is used in different instances to represent different things.

The wheel also features 8 spokes, and all of them have different meanings. The first actual Buddha images appeared around the first century BCE, so the artwork was largely symbolic in nature.

Many artwork and symbolism appeared around the 6th century, including mandalas and other Tantric symbols. Initially, in East Asia Cultures, Buddhism did not portray the Buddha himself; the first hint of human representation appeared with the Buddha footprint.

Buddhist Symbols and Their Meanings

There are several symbols used in Buddhism, most of which stem from the teachings of the Buddha. Some of them arise from different cultures, as Buddhism is passed down to represent the peoples’ faith and religious beliefs.

The symbols in Buddhism are pretty interesting to learn about. These symbols are considered sacred and used in various ceremonies, such as the inauguration of a newly-chosen king and during ceremonies to represent offerings to the gods. The symbols are also used as decorative art in monasteries or as a focal point during meditation.

Here are some of the prominent yet standard symbols found in the Buddhism culture:

1. The Image of the Great Buddha

It is one of the Buddhist symbols and is also one of the most known icons in Buddhism’s religion.

The emblem consists of certain minor other symbols placed within the larger picture.

Three lines are curved and are placed on the neck of Buddha, and they stand for the deep voice that Buddha has.

This particular symbol is found in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and China.

There are various sizes in which the logo appears, but the rough outlines always remain the same, making Buddha easily identifiable.

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2. The Triratna or The Three Jewels

The Triratna stands for the Dharma, Buddha, and Sangha, and they are the things where we take shelter as human beings.

The Dharma represents teaching, and Sangha stands for the monastic community.

The Triratna or ‘Triple Gem’ is one of the most ancient Buddhist symbols and is strongly associated with Buddha’s path for people to follow.

3. The Footprint of the Buddha or the Buddhapada

Buddhapada is another symbol beside the Buddhist symbols lotus flower. The symbol consists of a print of both the feet or might contain the impression of one foot.

It represents the fact that Buddha was physically present even when the religion of Buddhism consisted of no statues at all.

The period from the time the Buddha’s footprints are found is known as an ant-iconic stage. Today, the footprints represent Buddha’s absence since he has now entered nirvana.

These footprints ensure the fact that Buddha was a human being, and he resided on the earth. Moreover, these prints provide us with the path that we need to follow. They, therefore, work as a guide for us. Some of the footprints are found naturally, and men have built some of them.

Buddhist symbol - footprint of Buddha
Buddha footprint at the entrance of the Seema Malaka temple.

This symbol may incorporate an imprint of either one or both of Gautama Buddha’s feet. It was one of the earliest representations of the Buddha’s physical presence when there were no statues in Buddhism.

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The Buddhapada reminds us of two things:

  1. That the Buddha was also human, as he walked on this planet
  2. That there is a path to be followed, and the “Enlightened One” left the prints as a guide

There are two forms of the footprints: those that occur naturally in stones and human-made ones. The artificial ones are replicas of the “real” footprints and are considered representations of Buddha’s footprints throughout Asia.

The footprints usually have marks that set them apart, such as the Dharma wheel found at the center of the sole. Other distinctive marks that can be found on the footprints include the lotus flower, the swastika, or the three jewels.

Other footprints are quite large and very detailed. They feature the 32, 108, or the 132 auspicious signs of the Buddha are engraved on the sole following a checkerboard pattern.

The footprints are depicted with all the toes having a corresponding length. The sculptures are usually found in temples where they are protected using special structures where believers bring offerings to.

4. The Bodhi Tree or Leaf

The term Bodhi translates into ‘enlightenment.’ The Bodhi Tree also goes by Bo’s name. It has a significant part in the religious matters of the Buddhist religion followers and had an essential place in the history of Buddhism’s religion.

A popular faith says that Buddha achieved his enlightenment while sitting right under a tree of Bodhi. The particular tree has a real-life existence and is situated in Bodh Gaya, about 100km from Patna in Bihar. It is a major destination for pilgrims and is the most important pilgrimage site among the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

One of the trees is in Anuradhapura, and the other is in Sravasti. It takes anywhere between 100 and 3,000 years for a Bodhi tree to become fully grown.

Buddhist symbols - The bodhi tree
Ayutthaya Buddha Head in Tree Roots, Buddhist temple Wat Mahatha

One of the Buddhist symbolsthe Bodhi Tree, is sacred and shown as an old and large fig tree with rounded heart-shaped leaves. The followers of Buddhism believe that in the present day, only two of the Bodhi trees are there that originated from the actual Bodhi tree under which Buddha achieved his enlightenment. The Bodhi tree stands as a symbol of hope and salvation.

5. The Dharma Wheel

The Dharma Wheel is also referred to as the Dharmachakra, the “Wheel of Truth/Law,” or the “Wheel of Transformation.” It is one of the most important symbols in Buddhism that’s used to represent the teachings of the Buddha and represents Gautama Buddha himself. After the Buddha achieved enlightenment, Brahma appeared to him and offered the Dharma wheel.

The turning of the wheel is a metaphor for the rapid spiritual change engendered by the teachings of the Buddha.

The “first turning of the wheel of dharma” took place at the Deer Park in Sarnath while the “second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma” took place at Rajgir and Shravasti, respectively.

The Dharma chakra represents rebirth; it also teaches that reincarnation can only be escaped by following the Buddha’s teachings.

Buddhist prayer beads
Buddhist prayer beads - click for details

Yama is the name of the creature that turns the wheel. Yama is the Lord of Death and therefore represents the inevitability of death. However, the presence of the Buddha outside of the wheel represents liberation.

Buddhist symbols - The Dharma wheel
The golden deer and the dharma wheel in tibetan monastery

The basic parts of the dharma wheel that were a huge part of the Buddha’s teachings:

  1. The wheel’s hub represents a moral discipline that leads to a stable mind.
  2. The wheel’s spokes represent wisdom that one has to apply for them to beat ignorance.
  • The wheel’s rim represents focus and concentration, which helps us to hold everything together.

The outer circle of the wheel represents the 12 links of dependent origination, as stated below:

  1. On the top right is a blind man with a cane. He represents our ignorance of the true nature of the world.
  2. A potter molding a pot, moving clockwise. He represents the fact that we shape our own destiny with our actions.
  3. A monkey climbing a tree. He represents the consciousness of our mind, which wanders out of control.
  4. The consciousness which gives rise to name and form. This is depicted as people who are traveling on a boat on the river of life.
  5. An empty house whose doors and windows represent the developing sensory organs. The six senses are sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and thought.
  6. Thought, which is the sixth sense, allows us to have contact with the world. This is represented as an embrace between lovers.
  7. An arrow piercing the eye. This represents the human feelings, which can either be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Once we have contact with the world, we can feel.
  8. A man drinking alcohol or a couple falling in love. They represent our desires or our attachment to pleasant feelings.
  9. A monkey picking fruit(s). This represents the grasping of things that we desire
  10. From grasping, there arises existence. This is represented by a man and a woman making love.
  11. Existence culminates in birth, which marks the entry into the human realm. This is represented by a woman giving birth.
  12. After birth, we all age and ultimately end up dead. This is represented by an older man carrying a burden.
Buddhist symbol - Dharma mandala tapestry
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Dharma mandala tapestry
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The wheel’s middle ring symbolizes the six realms of existence: humans, gods, demi-gods, animals, hell-beings, and hungry ghosts.

Within the wheel’s inner circle, you will find symbols of the three root delusions: a snake symbolizing hatred, a rooster symbolizing ignorance, and a pig symbolizing greed.

The wheel’s spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha set out during his teachings. Here are the eight steps that help us to achieve liberation from the cycle of rebirth and suffering on earth:

  • Right View: Actions have consequences, even after death. This is where the concepts of karma and rebirth are included.
  • Right, Resolve: Create an environment of kindness and impermanence.
  • Right Speech: Avoid lying, rudeness, gossip, and other negative types of speech.
  • Right Conduct: Don’t steal, injure, assault, or kill others.
  • Right Livelihood: Limit possessions to only the essentials that you require for a normal life.
  • Right Effort: Work to prevent unwholesome states and thoughts which can disrupt meditation.
  • Right Mindfulness: Always remain conscious of your thoughts and actions.
  • Right Samadhi. Practice the four stages of meditation to unify the mind.
Dharma wheel pendant
Dharma wheeel necklace - Click for details
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Today, you will often find the Dharmachakra on images of the mandala or the Buddha; the Dharma Wheel appears on the palms of the Buddha’s hands and the soles of his feet.

Some wrathful deities are depicted brandishing the Dharma Wheel as a weapon to conquer evil. The Hindu god Vishnu uses the wheel to conquer earthly desires and passions.

The Dharma Wheel is the final stage on the path towards a permanent relief from suffering; it’s the final goal according to the Buddha’s teachings. The Victory Banner and the Knot of Eternity combine and lead towards the Dharma Wheel.

6. The Umbrella or The Parasol (Chatra)

Normally, the umbrella offers protection against different elements such as rain and the scorching sun. The parasol is the Buddhist symbol for strength and protection from harm, illness, obstacles, and difficulties.

In East Asian Cultures, the umbrella or parasol symbol represents the safety and refuge offered by the Buddha and his teachings.

The symbol not only represents protection but is also a symbol of dignity, wisdom, and compassion. The parasol could also be used to represent the peace and cal that it provides.

The meaning of the symbol varies depending on the shape of the umbrella. Sometimes, the dome’s shape is octagonal to represent the Eightfold Path—other times its square to represent the four directional quarters.

Considering that one had to be rich to possess an umbrella, by extension, it represents wealth or royalty.

buddhist symbols images
Credit: Frater5

7. The Lotus (Padma) Flower

Among all the symbols in Buddhism, the lotus flower is the most famous and widely recognized of the peace symbol images. It symbolized inner peace, humanity, and life. The concept of inner peace being able to lift us is an important cornerstone of Buddhism.

The Lotus Flower is a Buddhist Symbol for enlightenment. It also symbolizes “primordial purity” of the bid, speech, and mind, floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.

Buddhist symbol - lotus flower
Crystal Lotus Flower - Click for details
Buddhist healing symbols
Lotus essential oil difuser - Click for details
 

The mud represents suffering, which is a vital part of human life to make us stronger. The struggle and suffering teach us to break free and resist the temptations of the evil one.

Choosing the right path makes us one with the Buddha. Purity is an essential aspect for you to progress down the path of enlightenment to emulate the Buddha’s purity.

The lotus flower is significant teaching, not only in Buddhism but also for humanity. It brings hope and represents faith. The lotus’ beauty hides a dark underside. This is very uplifting teaching. The lotus represents our

 
Buddhist symbols lotus flower
Buddhist Lotus led string - Click for details

Ability to live with wisdom and purity above the murky waters below. What this means is that the lotus grows out of the muck and into something beautiful. Even though the roots are stuck deep in the mud, the lotus still gives beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers.

For this reason, the lotus is used to symbolize the full blossoming and transformation from suffering into blissful liberation. The lotus flower has eight petals, which also represent the Eightfold Path of the Good Law.

Once all the petals are fully open, that represents total enlightenment. In Buddhism, different-colored lotus flowers have different meanings. Here is their significance:

White

The white lotus flower represents the purity of the mind, body, and spirit. White symbolizes the heart of the Buddha. The color is associated with the White Tara and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality that gets reinforced by the color of her body.

Red

The red lotus flower represents the heart, love, and compassion. Red lotus flowers symbolize the emotional attachment of the heart and other heart-centered emotions such as passion.

Blue

The blue lotus flower represents wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and learning. The blue lotus flower is used to symbolize the victory of the spirit over the senses. It’s often depicted as being only partially open, so its center is not seen.

Pink

The pink lotus flower represents the Supreme Buddha as well as the traditional and historical Buddhism. The pink lotus flower is considered to be the true lotus of the highest deity- the Buddha.

Purple

The purple lotus flower represents mysticism and spirituality. Usually, the purple lotus is depicted as having either one or three stems. The petals are shown closed and opened; at times it’s depicted as a bud and other times it’s depicted as being fully bloomed. All these representations symbolize the different mystical and spiritual stages in the journey that we take towards enlightenment and self-awareness.

Gold

The gold lotus flower represents total enlightenment and is often used to represent the Buddha

8. Lion

The lion is another important Buddhist symbol that represents the Buddha’s royal past. The lion is a representation of the power of the teachings of the Buddha, which are considered to be as powerful as a lion’s roar.

In addition to representing the strength and power of the Buddhist message, the lion’s symbol is also a representation of royalty. 

buddhist symbols worksheet - The lion symbol

The lion symbolizes the royalty that the Buddha was a part of before he attained enlightenment- tradition has it that he was a prince. The lions are usually depicted on the throne that the Buddha sits on.

9. The Two Golden Fish

The two golden fishes are a symbol of happiness and freedom. Initially, the two fishes represented the two main rivers of India- the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. These two rivers are associated with the solar and lunar channels that originate in the nostrils and carry the alternating rhythms of breath.

In Buddhism, the fish are a symbol of luck and fortune. They also symbolize happiness and fearlessness. This is because the fishes are free to move around in the water with enough courage to face the unknown dangers in the ocean.

Two golden fish Buddhism symbol
Symbol of luck and fortune

Just as the fish swim freely in the water, it teaches us that we also have the ability to move around freely in this world of suffering and delusion.

The fish also represent abundance and fertility. This symbolism can be attributed to the reproduction rate of fishes.

The symbol of the two golden fishes also represents conjugal unity in marriage. This is because fishes swim side-by-side- a pair of fishes is a common gift to newly-weds during weddings. The fishes appear standing vertically, with their heads downward (inwards towards each other) and their tails in the air. They’ve often depicted swimming just above a half-ring of red waves.

The symbol of the two golden fishes represents the two main pillars of all Buddha teachings: peace and harmony. These two are a critical part of the journey towards enlightenment.

10. The Conch Shell (Sankha)

In Buddhism, the Conch Shell is used as a symbol of the sound of the Buddhadharma awakening beings to their ‘Buddha nature.’ The sound reaches far and wide and is intended to make us see our ignorance and awaken from the deep slumber of ignorance.

The realizations that fill up our mind on the journey to enlightenment are known as the Dharma Jewel.

The deep, melodious, and pervasive sound urges believers to accomplish their welfare and the welfare of others.

The conche shell - Buddhist symbol
The sound of the Buddhadharma awakening

The shell is white in color and features a coil that coils to the right. The rightward spiral is extremely rare in nature and, therefore, represents the rare gift of the Buddha to us through his teachings. At some point in the East Asian traditions, the conch was used as a battle horn.

11. The Treasure Vase/ The Urn of Wisdom (Bumpa)

In Buddhism, the vase is a symbol of bountiful treasure, which is the knowledge that teaches the Buddha. It may also represent health, wealth, prosperity, long life, spiritual growth, and all the good things that come with enlightenment.

The treasure vase can be filled with many sacred things that we receive as gifts for practicing the dharma. These gifts and treasures include mindfulness, compassion, and loving-kindness. It is believed that no matter how much of the gifts are taken out, the vase always remains full of bountiful treasures.

For this reason, the vase is a symbol of longevity and unending blessings that come with enlightenment.

The type of treasures that the vase represents can never be exhausted. However, the treasures aren’t monetary. Instead, they represent an inner wealth of faith, more discipline, wisdom, and others’ consideration.

The treasure vase symbol is depicted as a fat-bellied pot with a narrow, short neck and a large jewel. Some traditions involve the story of a treasure vase at a certain location, such as in monasteries, to generate more wealth.

Treasure vases that have been sealed with precious substances can often be found placed upon altars, on mountain passes, or buried at water springs to ensure that they consistently attract wealth and remain perpetually full.

To Buddhism, the vase specifically represents the spiritual abundance of the Buddha-a treasure that can never run out, no matter how much is given away.

12. The Banner of Victory (Dhvaja)

different buddhist symbols
The Victory Banner

The Banner of Victory or the Victory Banner symbolizes the victory of the Buddha over the demon Mara and what the demon represents, including anger, greed, pride, lust, hatred, disharmony, material desires, fear of death, and other unpleasant things.

The banner is also a symbol of the victory of wisdom over ignorance. Legend has it that the Buddha himself raised the victory banner over Mt. Meru to symbolize his triumph.

The banner is meant to remind people of Buddha’s abandonment of delusions and encourage people to win over their own pride, greed, and lust to reach enlightenment. Such a triumph produces clarity about one’s self and the person’s role in this world.

The victory banner is basically a symbol of the Buddhist doctrine as a path to overcoming selfish desires to reach spiritual enlightenment.

Traditionally, cylindrical victory banners made using copper were placed at all the four corners of the temple and monastery roofs to symbolize the Buddha’s triumph radiating to the four directions.

13. The Endless/ Eternal Knot (Shrivatsa)

In Buddhism, the endless knot is the symbol of intertwining wisdom, compassion, and love. It represents the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. According to this perspective, everything is connected, having no beginning or end.

buddhist symbols and what they mean
Symbol of intertwining wisdom, compassion, and love (credit: Dontpanic)

The knot may also be used to represent the never-ending path of dharma. There is always growth to be achieved, wisdom to be cultivated, and truth to be seen.

The endless knot is portrayed as a single thread that flows and entwines in a closed geometric pattern symbolizing all phenomena’ interrelation.

The knot lines represent all of creation and remind us to respect others because every action is connected to the larger universe.

All that happens to us is a representation of a web of karma and its effects. This symbol teaches peace and harmony. It may also represent the unending and supreme wisdom of the Buddha. Also, the knot represents the illusory character of time, as it’s endless.

14. The Empty Throne

As we saw earlier, Buddha was a prince.

This explains the origin of this symbol. The throne is also about the idea of the spiritual kingship of the Buddha.

The emptiness of the throne symbolizes the mysticism of Siddharta Gautama.

The throne is depicted with decorations at the base from other symbols such as lions and deer.

Both of which are associated with the teachings of the Buddha. The image shows the Buddhist empty throne, attacked by the demon Mara.

buddhist mantra symbols

15. The Begging Bowl

This is the simplest symbol in Buddhism, and it’s essential in the daily life of a Buddhist monk. 

It simply represents the life that the Buddhist monks choose to live.

This life is based on the Buddha’s teachings that warn against forming an attachment with selfish desires. Monks go from the monastery into the village each morning and live off what is put in the bowl by ordinary people.

16. The Swastika (Yungdrung)

The swastika is an ancient symbol of eternity, abundance, plurality, prosperity, well-being, and long life.

The symbol also symbolizes the footprints of the Buddha. The swastika is usually used in Buddhism to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. It is also used to mark Buddhist temples on maps.

In some East Asian Cultures, the swastika is used as a clothing decoration, as a decorative border around paintings.

Swastika Buddhist symbol
Swastika, do not get confused with the evil one

The symbol is found worldwide and is depicted as a cross with four arms of similar length. The ends of each arm are bent at a right angle. Swastikas are commonly used as charms to bring good fortune.

The Buddhist swastika is usually clockwise and is said to contain the entire mind of the Buddha. It is usually found imprinted on the palms, chest, or feet of the Buddha’s images.

17. The Eyes of the Buddha/ Wisdom Eyes

The Eyes of the Buddha are often depicted as a giant pair of eyes on all the four sides of Buddhist shrines. This is to denote the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha and is representative of his presence all around. The eyes symbolize a person’s potential to awaken and see clearly during meditation. There is a dot that represents a ‘third eye’ between the eyes, which symbolizes spiritual awakening.

Buddha eyes
Buddha's eyes on Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal

Where the nose is supposed to be is a symbol that looks like a question mark. This symbol is the Sanskrit character for the number 1 and signifies the unity of everything. The symbol also teaches us that the only way to attain enlightenment is by following the Buddha’s teachings.

18. The Four Guardian Kings

Four guardian kings - Buddhist symbol

The four guardian kings are symbols of protection.

They are the protectors of the world’s four cardinal directions and are often found at the entrance to temples and monasteries.

Each of the guardians has two hands and is dressed in a warrior king’s ornate armor and clothing. The guardian kings are depicted as either seated or standing.

19. Unalome

The Unalome symbolizes the journey to enlightenment. It teaches that the path is not always straight or even in the right direction. It further states that the journey is filled with suffering, and all we have to do is keep moving and learn as we go. Also, this is one of the most popular Buddhist symbols for Tatto.

20. Vajra

The vajra is a Buddhist tantric symbol representing the great spiritual power and firmness of spirit.

It symbolizes Vajrayana, which is one of the three main branches of Buddhism.

The symbol is depicted as a club that has ribbed spherical heads.

Vajra - Buddhist symbols
He is holding the Varja in his right hand

It also symbolizes purity and indestructibility and irresistible energy, which are attributes of a diamond and a thunderbolt, respectively. The vajra also represents endless creativity, skillful activity, and potency.

21. Stupas

Stupas are representative of the enlightened mind of the Buddha. The stupas started being built in the early days of Buddhism. The stupas come in a wide variety of shapes and sices. One symbolism of the stupas is that they represent the five elements:

  1. The square base represents the earth
  2. The round dome represents water
  • The cone shape represents fire
  1. The canopy represents air
  2. The volume of the stupa represents the space

22. Mudras

In Buddhism, Mudras represent hand gestures that are used during ritual meditation. They serve as symbols in Buddhist art. They’re used to indicate a particular scene as depicted in Buddhist art and indicate the identity of a Buddha.

The hand gestures are used to generate forces that invoke a particular deity. There are 11 basic mudras, of which 5 are commonly used in the Buddha images.

23. Abhaya Mudra

In Sanskrit, Abhaya means fearlessness. This hand gesture is a symbol of peace and protection; it’s made by raising the right hand to the shoulder’s height with the arm bent and the palm facing outward.

24. Bhumisparsha Mudra

The Bhumisparsha Mudra is commonly referred to as the “Eye Witness” mudra. The word Bhumisparsha means “touching the earth.” The gesture is formed with all the five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground.

25. Dharmachakra Mudra

This gesture symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of the Buddha. This moment is when he preached his first sermon to his companions after his enlightenment in Sarnath’s Deer Park.

This mudra is formed by touching the thumb tips and the index fingers of both hands to form a circle.

The remaining fingers remain extended. In this mudra, the hands are held in front of the heart to show that these teachings came straight from the heart of the Buddha.

26. Dhyana Mudra

This gesture may be made with a single hand (the left hand) or with both hands. To do it, place your hand at the level of your stomach or thigh with the palm facing up, and the fingers extended. When you use both hands, feel free to touch the thumbs at the tips to form a mystic triangle.

27. Varada Mudra

This hand gesture represents compassion, charity, and boon-granting. It’s often made using the left hand with the arm hanging naturally at the side of your body. The palms remain open, fingers extended, and the hand facing forward. The five extended fingers symbolize generosity, patience, effort, morality, and meditative concentration.

28. The Buddhist Flag

The Buddhist flag
The Himalayan treks symbol 🙂

The colors on the original Buddhist flag represent the rays of light that shone around the Buddha after he became enlightened. The waving of the flag symbolizes the hope that all nations will live happily under the shelter of the Buddha’s wisdom.

However, a more modern flag was designed in 1880, and it acts as a symbol of peace and faith. This is the flag that is now used worldwide to represent Buddhism. There are 5 colors on the flag, and each one of them represents the colors of the aura that came from the body of the Buddha after he attained enlightenment.

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29. The mountains

There are two main mountains in Buddhist symbolism:

1. Mount Meru

This mountain has a pyramid shape and is the mythological axis of the Buddhist universe. It’s also believed to link the heavens above to the hells below.

2. Vulture Peak

This mountain is in Northern India. The Buddha is believed to have delivered a couple of sermons there.

30. Color symbolism

In Buddhism, colors have a wide range of uses in their art and rituals. Each of the five main colors represents a state of mind, a Buddha, a part of the body, and a natural element:

ColorState of MindBuddhaBody PartsNatural Elements
WhiteRest, ThinkingVairochanaEyesWater
YellowNourishingRatnasambhavaNoseEarth
RedSubjugationAmitabhaTongueFire
Blue(Black) Danger, KillingAkshobhyaEarsAir
GreenExorcismAmoghasiddhiHeadN/A

 

Conclusion - The Power of Buddhist Symbols

Symbols are a great guidepost for anyone who is looking to learn more about Buddhism. While memorizing the symbols is very important, it is recommended that you look past the symbols to know their true meaning.

Buddhism is a concept, and you don’t need to know all the symbols to find inner peace. However, these powerful tranquility tools can help you find peace and serenity.

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