Hindu Gods and Indian Culture in Japan

As we all know, Hindu Gods and Goddesses are worshiped with rituals in many countries of the world. But Japan is also included in these countries, which is a pleasant surprise for most of us. There are hundreds of temples of Goddess Saraswati in Japan. Here, different forms of Lakshmi, Indra, Brahma, Ganesha, Garuda, and many other deities are actively worshipped. Even gods like Vayu, Varuna, whom we have largely forgotten in India, are still worshiped in Japan.

Hindu Gods and Indian Culture in Japan

On one hand, the meaning of Indian culture has started changing in our modern society of India. On the other hand, Japan has preserved our ancient Indian culture to a great extent. Goddess Saraswati is greatly respected in Japan. Not only is she worshiped in the Veenadharini form, but her Sarita form is also worshipped. That is why you will see devotees worshiping water ponds in Japan.

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From 600 to 1200 AD, the Siddham script was used to write Sanskrit. This script is derived from Brahmi. It is also called Siddhamatraka. It is no longer used in India, but in Japan, the Siddham script has been preserved and has not allowed it to disappear. The Bijakshars written in Sanskrit under this script are also considered sacred here and are respected. Along with the Gods and Goddesses, the Bijakshars related to them are also worshipped. It is another matter that in today’s era the number of people who read and know it is very less.

Whenever you see Japanese tombs, you will definitely see these Sanskrit scripts carved there. Despite not being able to read this script properly, Japanese people use it to pay respect to their deceased loved ones. Sanskrit along with Siddham is taught in a school located in Koyasan, Japan. This is proof of the fact that Japan has also contributed significantly to the preservation of Sanskrit.


During the study of Japanese Buddhism, many links in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism are seen. Presently prevalent Himalayan Buddhism is also a modern form of Japanese Buddhism but it seems to lack Homa and Havan. When I was studying other important sects of Japanese Buddhism, I learned that the process of offering sacred fire is still a popular practice among them. I felt extremely happy to know this. In Japan, home is called gome. During this Homa or Goma, Sanskrit mantras and shlokas are also chanted.


Many words of Japanese language are derived from Sanskrit. The formation of the Japanese character kana is also inspired by Sanskrit.

While visiting the market, I saw a major milk product called ‘Sujata’. I was told that the owners had named their product Sujata after being inspired by the legends of Sujata. According to legends, on one Vaishakhi Purnima, a woman named Sujata was blessed with a son. To fulfill her vow to the banyan tree, she reached there with a golden plate filled with cow’s milk and rice pudding. Taking the form of Buddha doing penance under the banyan tree, he fed him kheer with love and also blessed him to get his wish fulfilled. That very night Buddha attained supreme knowledge.


The mysteries of Japanese practices point to the primary development of Indian philosophy. Japan has preserved its philosophical understanding with great pride. The culture of Japan has been unbroken for a long time. It was the misfortune of India that during colonial rule, the English education system caused a huge injury to our culture. The result of this is that most Indians know our own culture from a Western perspective. The main and preferred language here has become English. The practices and books in schools and universities are also completely influenced by the western perspective.

Japan and India

Our connection with Japan is deeper than we understand. There is a need to understand it and promote it. Now the time has come that we should learn from the peaceful and respectful approach of ancient India and the culture of countries like Japan. Stop destroying yourself and the world around you with your carelessness and thoughtless commercialism.

Those with modern ideologies believe that taking inspiration from ancient culture means lack of economic development. This is flawed thinking in my opinion. In fact, Sanskrit itself provides us with discipline, decency and meaning of life. This quality helps us achieve complete success in all our work and this gives us a healthy, complete and happy life.

Japan is a country where Buddhism is truly thriving. Here technology and culture are flourishing together. The deep roots of Buddhist teachings are a source of inspiration for the Japanese.

Buddhist temples are abundant in Japan. Every day a large number of devotees visit him. Apart from Buddha, many Hindu Gods and Goddesses are also worshiped here and Hindu culture is followed with great devotion. That is why people of Indian origin live comfortably in Japan.

Bodhisena Statue, Ryosenji, Nara

8th. In the 17th century, the Indian Buddhist monk Bodhisena visited Japan at the invitation of Emperor Shomu of Japan. There he promoted the use of Sanskrit and also established the Hayana sect of Buddhism. In 752, he organized a grand ceremony of the Great Buddha at Todoji Temple. Bodhisena is a native of Madurai in South India.

Saraswati or Benzaiten Temple, Benton Shoe, Osaka

This is the world’s tallest and most grand temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. Benzaiten is the Japanese form of the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Japan’s most revered goddess, Benzaiten, has temples and shrines in every major city. It is mostly located near water sources like sea, lake, pond or river. The goddess riding on a winged serpent holds a sword, jewel, bow, arrow, disc and key in her eight arms. This goddess is worshiped for auspiciousness.

Author Benoy K. Behl

Benoy K. Bahl is a filmmaker, art historian and photographer. He is famous for his hard work and tireless efforts to achieve results for the last 36 years. His photographs, displayed in 54 countries of the world, have been highly appreciated. He has a place in the Limca Book of Records as the most traveled photographer in the world.

Many films and documentaries produced by Bahl have been shown on prime time slot on All India Doordarshan. These include 26 documentaries on ‘ The Paintings of India ‘, 26 documentaries on ‘The Sculptures of India’ and 26 documentaries on ‘Spectacular India’. Bahl also has the honor of interviewing His Highness the Dalai Lama. Based on this interview, he made a film ‘Indian Roots of Tibetan Buddhism’ which also received the Best Documentary Award at the Madrid International Film Festival in 2015.