Unique Beliefs of China, Japan, and the Philippines


Pinoy Techie

China has been a multi-religion country since the ancient times. It is well known that Confucianism is an indigenous religion and is the soul of Chinese culture, which enjoyed popular support among people and even became the guiding ideology for feudalism society, but it did not develop into a national belief. It makes the culture more tolerant to others, thus, many other religions have been brought into the country in different dynasties, but none of them developed powerful enough in the history and they only provide diverse people more spiritual support.
According to a latest survey, 85% of Chinese people have religious beliefs or had some religious practices and only 15% of them are real atheists. (The real atheists here refer to those who do not have faith in any religions nor had any activities related to religions or folk customs.) 185 million people believe in Buddhism and 33 million have faith in Christianity and believes in the existence of God. Only 12 million people are Taoists, although more than one hundred million have taken part in Taoism activities before. Thus, it is obvious that the Buddhism has the widest influence. The other major religions are Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity.



Being brought into China 2,000 years ago, it was gradually widely accepted by most Chinese people and developed into three sections, namely the Han, Tibetan and Southern Buddhism. Buddhism not only brought a different religion, but also brought a different culture. It influences the local culture on three main aspects: literature, art and ideology. Many famous poems have ideas from Buddhism and many Buddhist stone statues can be found, which show its huge influence. It also promotes the countries’ intercultural communications with foreign countries. In Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), Jianzhen traveled to Japan to spread Buddhism as well as Chinese culture. Xuanzang, who traveled to India to learn Buddhist doctrines, brought a plenty information on the language of the countries he had been to.

Now, Buddhism has developed into the most important religion in the country. The latest survey shows that 31% of the people who do not believe in this religion have participated in some Buddhist activities and about 17 million people have already become converts. Now more of those followers come from different walks of life such as the intellectuals, business elites and the common people. Recently, there is a new report, The Chinese Luxury Consumer White Paper 2012, jointly published by the Industrial Bank and Hurun Report, which shows that 39% of the intellectuals and businessmen have faith in Buddhism. Not only the number of the followers is increasing, and the education of Buddhism obtains more attention from the society. Under the Buddhist Association of China, 34 different levels of Buddhist academies as well as almost 50 magazines can be found. Now in mainland China, there are about 13 thousand temples and 180 thousand monks and nuns.

•Han Buddhism: With 8,400 temples and 50 thousand monks, it is the largest branch on the mainland.
•Tibetan Buddhism: As the second large sect, it has 3,000 temples and 120 thousand monks.
•Southern Buddhism: Having 8,000 monks and 1,600 temples, this sect has the smallest scale.

Famous Buddhist Relics:
•Potala Palace, Lhasa •Yonghe Lamasery, Beijing
•Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai •Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian
•Mt. Wutai, Shanxi •Temple of Soul's Retreat, Hangzhou
•Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang •Shaolin Temple, Henan
•White Horse Temple, Luoyang



Confucianism, not a real religion, is just an ethical and philosophical system, which developed from Confucius’ thoughts and later was treated as a kind of belief to educate common people. It obtained its stable position under the reign of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD), and became the ideology of the society in the feudal system since then. Based on the Four Books and Five Classics, the traditions and principles in the Confucianism played an important role in the formation of Chinese people’s thinking patterns and teaching methods. For instance, Doctrine of the Mean can be seen on communications among people. Now, to some extent, where Chinese people stay or live, there will be Confucianism.

Confucianism has worldwide influence. In many countries and regions of world such the UK, USA, branches of Confucius Institutes are established in recent years to spread Chinese culture and expand the language. In China, you can find many Confucius temples, which is an important place for the candidates for important exams. In Beijing, They hang some red wooden plates with lucky words in the Confucius Temple in the hope of gaining high marks and a good future.

Famous Confucius Temples:
•Confucius Temple in Qufu •Confucius Temple in Beijing •Confucius Temple in Nanjing



Taoism, with more than 1,800 years’ history originated in the Warring Period and came into being in Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220). Now about 300 Taoist Temples are scattered around China, in which about 30 thousand Taoists lived in. Around 5 Taoist schools exist in the country and two main sections are included in Taoism. In the 1,800 years, Taoism influenced the local culture deeply, especially on traditional medicine and literature. Based on some theories of alchemists such as Wei Boyang in Eastern Han Dynasty, different kinds of medicine prescriptions were created by Sun Simiao and many other doctors. In literature, many fictional characters are closely related with Taoism, such as the Jade Emperor. Apart from Mainland China, many Taoists live in Hong Kong, Macau and some foreign countries.

Famous Taoist Relics:
•.Wudang Mountain, Shiyan, Hubei •Mt Qingcheng, Chengdu
•Mt. Huashan, Xian •White Cloud Temple, Beijing



Being introduced into China in the 7th century in Tang Dynasty, Islam has more than 1,400 years’ history in the country. Now, Muslims live everywhere, but the highest concentrations are Ningxia Hui Autonosmous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Gansu Province and even Qinghai Province. Sunni Islam was the main branch worshipped by almost all the Muslims in the country.

Famous Islamic Relics:
•Great Mosque, Xian •Dongguan Mosque, Xining



Christianity was first introduced to China in Tang Dynasty, which was named as Nestorianism during that time. After 1840, they swept the country. Although they were suspended after 1949, it spread fast in recent years. Now about 30 million Chinese people are Christians, who are organized in about 97 parishes. Most of Christians gather in the south part of the country.

Famous Churches:
•East Church, Beijing (St Joseph's Church) •St. Ignatius Cathedral, Shanghai
•Churches in Hong Kong •Saint Sophia Church, Harbin (an Orthodox church)

In addition to the five main religions, Chinese people have some other traditional folk beliefs. More than 200 million people believe the existence of the ancestors’ souls and worship them, while about 700 million have taken part in the activities to worship their ancestors or related activities. About 150 million people believe in Fengshui theory and 140 million people believe in God of Wealth. Chinese Astrology is very popular and many people think the sign can decide one’s characters and future. Thus, it is obvious that the traditional folk belief has a wide foundation among the local people. Now, more and more Chinese people are fond of constellation in western culture. In the beginning of a new year, some people will watch some fortune telling programs to see whether they can succeed in the next year and learn how to avoid back luck.


Most, if not all, countries have customs and beliefs that make them distinct as a people. These include superstitions, of which the Japanese have many. A lot of these superstitions may sound familiar and could be variations of our own, while others may verge on the bizarre.

You might come across some of these of common Japanese superstitions during your stay in Japan for the KCP program:

• If you hiccup a hundred times in a row, you will die.

• If you don’t eat all your rice during meals, you will go blind.


• Hide your bellybutton when it is thundering, or else the god of thunder will eat it.

• Do not whistle at night unless you want a snake or a ghost to pay you a visit.

• A broken geta (Japanese wooden footwear) means bad luck.


• The number 4, pronounced as “shi” in Japanese, is considered unlucky since the Japanese word for “death” is pronounced the same. Many Japanese elevators do not include the number 4. The number 9 is also unlucky because it is pronounced “ku”, also the pronunciation of the Japanese words for agony” or “torment.”

• The number 7 is a lucky or holy number for the Japanese as well as many other cultures. For example, the seventh day after a baby’s birth is a cause for celebration, and the Buddhists believe in seven reincarnations.

• If you see a funeral hearse traveling on the road, hide your thumbs into fists or else your parents may die. The thumb literally means “parent-finger” and should be hidden when the hearse, which connotes “death”, passes by.


• Do not lie down after a meal or you will turn into a cow.

• If you sleep at night with your head facing north, you will have a shorter life. Japanese corpses are laid in that position during their wake.


The Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation on account of 300 years of Spanish rule. It is estimated that 81% of the population is Roman Catholic. In the south on the large island of Mindanao, many are adherents of Islam. Filipino Muslims make up about five percent of the national population.

Animism or folk religion encompassing indigenous spiritual traditions from pre-colonial times still prevail even among baptized members of formal churches. Superstitious beliefs are widespread.





an idol representing a spirit that is usually friendly if properly assuaged


a ghost; a malevolent spirit that acts with capriciousness so people don’t even try to assuage it


an intermediary with the spirit world; in pre-Spanish society, this was often a woman, though men were not uncommon


in pre-Spanish society, a conceptualization for a superior being; with Filipinos then believing in several gods, this term may only have been applied to the most powerful


erbularyo (from the Spanish herbolario)
a person skilled in combining herbs to cure illness and ward off evil spirits


the Filipino equivalent of a beautiful vampire; a type of aswang; her upper body detaches and flies off with large wings
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