SEVERAL weeks ago we had something about the Japanese people, their dress, and some of their strange customs, together with a picture and description of their curious houses. Those who have forgotten about it will do well to find the paper, and read the article again; for it will help you better to understand what we are going to say about their 

ways of worship.

The people of Japan have long had many different religions; but the three principal kinds are the Sinto religion, the Buddhist, and that of Confucius. 

Of these, the most ancient is Sintoism, which originally consisted in the worship of the sun and the elements. 

These they call the "great spirits." The sun is still the chief object of veneration among the Sintos, but they also believe in an infinite number of inferior spirits, called the genii, or kami. These are mostly heroes canonized for their worthy deeds or illustrious virtues.

Numerous temples, called myas (royal residences or palaces), are erected to the sun and also to the inferior deities. In these temples, however, are no idols or images, but only large metal mirrors, or disks, in honor of the sun; and packets of white paper scraps, as a symbol of purity. On the walls are pictures of the horse, which they regard as a sacred animal, and the attendant of their sungod These chapels are adorned with flowers and green branches; and two lamps, a cup of tea, and one of wine, are also placed inside. The priests are called kanusi, or keepers of the gods. They live near the temple, and obtain their income chiefly from the offerings made on feast-days.

The worship paid to the spirits supposed to reside in the myas is very simple. The worshiper approaches the temple under the sacred gateways, until within a short distance of the door, when he stops, folds his hands in the attitude of reverence, mutters his prayers, and departs. On the festivals, or feast-days, he brings offerings of wine, ricecakes, eggs, etc.

In the picture on this page is represented one of these Sinto temples at Yokohama ( Yo-ko-ha'-ma), a city of Japan on the east coast of the island of Hondu. The town is mainly settled by foreigners, and is a favorite port for both English and Americans who visit Japan, because there they find not only those of their own countrymen, but many of the conveniences of their own land. The picture quite likely represents a scene on a feast- day, as numbers of the people seem to be going toward the temple with something in their hands.

Buddhism, however, has latterly become the most popular religion of Japan. This religion has Buddha for its chief deity, and was introduced into the country from the peninsula of Korea, in the sixth century.

It has gradually gained ground, until it has almost taken the place of Sintoism, or rather, has mingled with it; for in many instances the same temple serves for both, and accommodates the mirrors of the kamis, together with the images of the Buddhist gods. The priests of Buddha in Japan are called bonzes, and are numerous and much respected. They frequently live in the temples, which do not differ materially from those of the Sinto, except that they are usually larger and finer. 

One who spent three years in the interior of Japan, gays of them: "The Buddhist temples usually occupy the most picturesque sites, enshrined among thickly shaded groves, 

and secluded from the noise and bustle of the large cities. Approaching them through an avenue of trees, or ascending the hill-slope, you may see their massive roofs, carved pagodas, and huge bell-towers rising abruptly through the green foliage. The very atmosphere of sacred solitude surrounds them.

"In one of these temples I was destined to live during my first year in Japan. With all its heathen rites and pagan darkness, I yet learned to call it my home. Under almost the same roof with me were the priests of Buddha, and the idols before whom incense was continually burning, filling the house with fragrance. The grounds of the temple covered several acres, and contained nearly a dozen buildings. Some of these were temples, others were small shrines, and the central building was a temple and dwelling combined. Here most of the worship was performed by day and night, and here I lived.

"Several massive gates led into the grounds. Under the largest stood two grim warriors, carved in wood and painted plaster, measuring fifteen feet in height, and holding giant spears, bows, and arrows, with which to guard the sacred portals of the temple. Colossal pines shaded the walks, and bamboo groves skirted the hillside. 

To the left, on the terraced slope of the hill, stood a Buddhist cemetery. 

A great bronze bell in the tower tolled solemn and slow, with a deep booming sound, every evening when the sun went down.

"At first I thought it quite romantic; I liked the retirement and the peaceful stillness, broken only by the prayers of the priests, and the measured beat of the drums accompanying the repetition of the musical words, 'Buddha armida'; ... but at last it became very lonely, as the romance and novelty faded out; and the clatter of drums and gongs in the temple, instead of being musical, became intolerable."

Although the Buddhist is the most popular of the Japanese religions, there 'is a large body of the people who reject idol worship entirely, and found their rule of life on what they consider philosophical principles. 

These are the followers of Confucius, and form a sect known as Sinto, or the school of philosophers. This sect includes the people of the best education. They have no temples, or ritual, but pay supreme honor to Confucius, and religiously venerate their ancestors.

One thing, which seems very strange to us is that there is no hostility between the different forms of religion among the Japanese. No religious disputes are heard of among them, much less do they bear one another any hate on such grounds. On the contrary, they think it a simple act of courtesy to visit from time to time one another's gods, and do them reverence. Soon after the introduction of Christianity in the sixteenth century, some of the heathen priests petitioned the emperor to prohibit the new and foreign faith. He asked how many different religions there were in Japan? He was told there were thirty-five; upon which he remarked: 

"Where thirty-five religions are tolerated, we can easily bear with thirty-six; leave the strangers in peace.''

Missionaries and teachers from England and America have been sent to Japan, and they have taught the people not only the true religion, but many of the arts of civilization. The work has been slow, but within the last few years the results of the faithful labor bestowed are becoming more and more apparent. Many of the people gladly receive the religion of Jesus, and show by their changed lives that they really appreciate it. Says one missionary, "The happiest memories I have connected with my long stay in Japan are those of the hours spent with my Bible-class of young men. 

The eagerness with which the truth was received, the affectionate gratitude manifested by all who attended, the solemn assurance which the Divine Spirit gave of his presence, and the consciousness that I was presenting Christ to those who had never known him, gave an unction to my words, and filled me with an awe and enthusiasm, which I cannot well describe. One of the young men said to me, 'They are golden truths you are giving us, and they satisfy the soul.'" 

E. B.