East Asian Religions

The East Asian religions or Taoic religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes ancestral worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations (such as Yiguandao and Weixinism), as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form the core of Chinese Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism at large. The group also includes Japanese Shintoism and Korean Sindoism (both meaning “Ways of Gods” and identifying the indigenous shamanic religion and ancestor worship of such peoples), which have received influences from Chinese religions throughout the centuries. Chinese salvationist religions have influenced the rise of Korean and Japanese new religions—for instance, respectively, Jeungsanism, and Tenriism; these movements draw upon indigenous traditions but are heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy and theology.


All these religious traditions, more or less, share core Chinese concepts of spirituality, divinity and world order, including Tao 道 (“Way”; pinyin dào, Japanese  or , and Korean do) and Tian 天 (“Heaven”; Japanese ten, and Korean cheon).


East Asian religions include many theological stances, including polytheism, nontheism, henotheism, monotheism, pantheism, panentheism and agnosticism. East Asian religions have many Western adherents, though their interpretations may differ significantly from traditional East Asian religious thought and culture.

The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove refers to seven distinguished Chinese scholars, writers and musicians in the six dynasties. They exerted a great influence on Chinese poetry, art and overall culture.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to East Asian Religions:

Common Concepts in East Asian Religions

Chinese Characters Fortune Prayer Temple China

Chinese prayers

Articles of East Asian Religions


Main articles

Confucian Texts

Confucian beliefs

Confucian Gods and deities

Confucian practices

History of Confucianism

Influential Confucians

Other articles


Shinto beliefs 

Shinto Deities

Variations of Shinto

Amaterasu, one of the central kami in the Shinto faith

Amaterasu, one of the central kami in the Shinto faith

Shinto culture

Shinto Texts

Shinto practices

Religion of Japan


Taoist beliefs

Taoist Texts

Bagua: Modern Taijitu with I Ching trigrams

Bagua: Modern Taijitu with I Ching trigrams

Taoist practices

The Chinese character for dao

The Chinese character for dao

History of Taoism

Influential Taoists

The Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching

Known East Asian Religions

Main articles


Main article: Confucianism


Main article: Shintoism and State Shinto

Shinto-inspired religions








Chinese Architecture Chinese Decoration

Outline of East Asian Religions

Outline of East Asian Religions The East Asian religions or Taoic religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes ancestral worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations (such as Yiguandao and Weixinism), as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form...

Amaterasu emerges from the Heavenly Rock Cave (Shunsai Toshimasa, 1887)

Japanese Mythology

Japanese Mythology Japanese mythology is a collection of traditional stories, folktales, and beliefs that emerged in the islands of the Japanese Archipelago. Shinto and Buddhist traditions are the cornerstones of Japanese mythology. The history of thousands of years of contact with China, Korea, Ainu, and Okinawan myths are also key influences in Japanese mythology. Japanese...

Huà Shān is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains.

Outline of Taoism

Outline of Taoism Taoism – philosophical, ethical, and religious tradition of Chinese origin that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (also romanized as Dao). The term Tao means “way”, “path” or “principle”, and can also be found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes something that is both the...

Jogyesa Temple Seon temple in Seoul, South Korea

Korean Seon

Korean Seon Seon, or Seon Buddhism or Sŏn Buddhism (Korean: 선, 禪) is the Korean name for Chan Buddhism, a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism commonly known in English as Zen Buddhism. Seon is the Sino-Korean pronunciation of Chan (Chinese: 禪; pinyin: chán) an abbreviation of 禪那 (chánnà), which is a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word of dhyāna (“meditation“). Seon...

Bái Đính Temple in Ninh Bình Province

Buddhism in Vietnam

Buddhism in Vietnam Buddhism in Vietnam or Vietnamese Buddhism (Đạo Phật or Phật Giáo), as practised by the ethnic Vietnamese, is mainly of the Mahayana tradition. Buddhism may have first come to Vietnam as early as the 3rd or 2nd century BCE from the Indian subcontinent or from China in the 1st or 2nd century CE. Vietnamese Buddhism has had a syncretic relationship...

Bridge River Japan Shinto Boats Travel Landmark

State Shinto

State Shinto State Shintō (国家神道 or 國家神道, Kokka Shintō) describes Imperial Japan‘s ideological use of the native folk traditions of Shintoism, . The state strongly encouraged Shinto practices to emphasize the Emperor as a divine being, which was exercised through control of shrine finances and training regimes for priests. The State Shinto ideology emerged at the...

Page from a copy of the Nihon Shoki, early Heian period

Nihon Shoki

Nihon Shoki The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi (日本紀, “Japanese Chronicles”). It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most...

Susanoo and Orochi in Izumo-ryū kagura


Kagura Kagura (神楽 (かぐら), “god-entertainment”) is a specific type of Shinto ritual ceremonial dance. Once strictly a ceremonial art derived from kami’gakari (神懸 (かみがかり), “oracular divinification”), kagura has evolved in many directions over the span of more than a millennium. Today, it is very much a living tradition, with rituals tied to the rhythms of the agricultural calendar,...

Painting with scenes from The Twenty-four Cases of Filial Piety. Kano Motonobu, 1550

Filial Piety

Filial Piety In Confucian, Chinese Buddhist and Taoist ethics, filial piety (孝, xiào) is a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian Classic of Filial Piety, thought to be written around the Qin–Han period, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of filial piety. The book, a purported dialogue between Confucius and his student...

Four Books and Five Classics

Four Books and Five Classics

Four Books and Five Classics The Four Books and Five Classics (四書五經; Sìshū Wǔjīng) are the authoritative books of Confucianism in China written before 300 BC. Four Books The Four Books (四書; Sìshū) are Chinese classic texts illustrating the core value and belief systems in Confucianism. They were selected by Zhu Xi in the Song dynasty to serve as general introduction to Confucian thought,...

Torii Shrine Sea Itsukushima Shinto Shrine God

Shinto Sects and Schools

Shinto Sects and Schools Shinto (神道, shintō), the folk religion of Japan, developed a diversity of schools and sects, outbranching from the original Ko-Shintō (ancient Shintō) since Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the sixth century. Early period schools and groups The main Shinto schools with traditions traceable to early periods, according to authoritative published...

Headquarters of Reiyū-kai.

Japanese New Religions

Japanese New Religions Japanese new religions are new religious movements established in Japan. In Japanese, they are called shinshūkyō (新宗教) or shinkō shūkyō (新興宗教). Japanese scholars classify all religious organizations founded since the middle of the 19th century as “new religions”; thus, the term refers to a great diversity and number of organizations....

Muay Thai Fight Fighter Warrior Thai Boxing


Neijia Neijia (内家) is a term in Chinese martial arts, grouping those styles that practice neijing, usually translated as internal martial arts, occupied with spiritual, mental or qi-related aspects, as opposed to an “external” approach focused on physiological aspects. The distinction dates to the 17th century, but its modern application is due to...

Some books about Taoist Sexual Practices

Taoist Sexual Practices

Taoist Sexual Practices Taoist sexual practices (房中术; 房中術; fángzhōngshù; ‘arts of the bedchamber’) are the ways Taoists may practice sexual activity. These practices are also known as “Joining Energy” or “The Joining of the Essences”. Practitioners believe that by performing these sexual arts, one can stay in good health, and attain longevity or...

Crystals of cinnabar, crystals of barite, crystals of quartz, crystals of calcite : Wanshan Mine, Wanshan District, Tongren Prefecture, Guizhou Province, China, an example of material historically associated with Chinese alchemy

Chinese Alchemy

Chinese Alchemy Chinese alchemy is an ancient Chinese scientific and technological approach to alchemy, a part of the larger tradition of Taoist body-spirit cultivation developed from the traditional Chinese understanding of medicine and the body. According to original texts such as the Cantong qi, the body is understood as the focus of cosmological processes summarized...

Yoga Zen Meditation Position Relax Relaxation


Neidan Neidan, or internal alchemy (內丹术; 內丹術; nèidān shù), is an array of esoteric doctrines and physical, mental, and spiritual practices that Taoist initiates use to prolong life and create an immortal spiritual body that would survive after death (Skar and Pregadio 2000, 464). Also known as Jindan (金丹 “golden elixir”), inner alchemy combines...

Tang dynasty Zhuangzi manuscript preserved in Japan (1930s replica)


Zhuangzi (book) The Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzŭ) is an ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (476–221 BC) which contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Taoist sage. Named for its traditional author, “Master Zhuang” (Zhuangzi), the Zhuangzi is one of the two foundational texts of Taoism, along with...

Painting of two of the Eight Immortals, Iron-crutch Li on the left releasing a bat, Liu Haichan on the right holding one of the Peaches of Immortality and accompanied by the three-legged toad, Jin Chan. By Soga Shōhaku (曾我蕭白), done about 1760.

Xian in Taoism

Xian in Taoism Xian (仙/仚/僊; xiān; Wade–Giles: hsien) refers to a person or similar entity having a long or immortal lifespan. The concept of xian has different implications dependent upon the specific context: philosophical, religious, mythological, or other symbolic or cultural occurrence. The Chinese word xian is translatable into English as: (in Daoist philosophy and cosmology) spiritually immortal; transcendent; super-human;...

Partial text of Dao De Jing engraved in Tai Qing Dian (Hall of Supreme Purity) in Changchun Temple, Wuhan.

Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching The Tao Te Ching (道德经; 道德經; Dàodé Jīng)[Note1], also known as Lao Tzu or Laozi, is a Chinese classic text traditionally credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi. The text’s authorship, date of composition and date of compilation are debated. The oldest excavated portion dates back to the late 4th...

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