Religion: The Conversion of a Village

The war did not damage the low, thatch-and tile-roofed houses of the Japanese village of Saga, in the Honshu countryside 60 miles northwest of Kyoto. But in peaceful Saga (pop. 2,500), as everywhere in Japan, the defeat shook the complex structures of Shinto and Buddhism which had served most Japanese as religion.

This year Saga's cautious bamboo-shoot farmers realized with shocked surprise what a spiritual vacuum was left: in January's general election, 37 of their young people voted Communist. Saga's conservative toshiyori (elders) lost no time in calling a town meeting to talk it over. Up stood prosperous Farmer Sakuji Takahashi with...

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