Press Briefings (Reports)

Back to Index

Date : June 11, 2021

Video report: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Changes to Japan’s Temples and the Japanese View of Life and Death (Rev. Hidenori Ukai , Journalist/Head Priest of Shokakuji Temple)

post date : 2021.06.14

Japan is home to approximately 77,000 Buddhist temples, making them more common than convenience stores (approx. 55,000). Temples used to play an important role in local communities throughout the country, and were used for various gatherings, but with the overall population decline and depopulation of rural areas it has been noted that temples are at risk of “vanishing.” The COVID-19 pandemic is said to have exacerbated this trend. With the simplification of Buddhist services and efforts to avoid gathering in large numbers, temples’ total income in 2020 may have declined to half of what it was five years ago.


While new initiatives such as online services and cashless offerings are being implemented, there is also growing inequality among temples. What changes has the pandemic brought to the environment surrounding temples, and how has it affected people’s views of Buddhism or life and death? The FPCJ invited Rev. Hidenori Ukai, author of the oft-discussed 2015 book Vanishing Temples, to discuss temples’ current situation and future. Rev. Ukai is a journalist and editor for an economics magazine, and this January became the head priest of Shokakuji Temple in Kyoto, which is managed by his family. He continues to research and study temples, and disseminate information around the theme of “modern society and Buddhism.”


The briefing was attended by journalists from Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA.

Handouts (English ver.) 

Date: Date: June 11 (Fri), 2021, 14:00-15:30

■Theme: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Changes to Japan’s Temples and the Japanese View of Life and Death

■Briefer: Rev. Hidenori Ukai, Journalist/Head Priest of Shokakuji Temple/Representative Director of Yoi-Otera                       Research Institute/Part-Time Lecturer at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Bukkyo University

■Language: Japanese, with consecutive English interpretation                                  


If you have published an article, photo, or a program based on our press briefing report, please provide us with the (1) title of article(s) or product(s), (2) author’s name, (3) published/broadcast date of your report, and (4) a copy of or a link to your report (if available) via email (cp[at]
*Please replace “at” with “@” when yo

About Us
Covering Japan
News Resources
Activity Reports
Reaching the Press