It is widely argued that the Japanese mass media generally only report on religions and religious organizations negatively. This paper shows, however, via an examination of mass media portrayals of pilgrimage in Japan, that there are contexts in which activities at religious centers are very positively presented in the mass media. Since the 1920s, pilgrimages have been represented in an extremely favorable light by broadcasters, journalists, newspapers and national television broadcasting organizations, with such representations making a significant contribution to the growth of pilgrim numbers in recent times. However, a close examination of how pilgrimages are presented in the mass media, indicates that they are treated primarily as symbols of culture and tradition rather than as manifestations of religion——a differentiation that raises questions about the reasons behind the seeming negative stance of the mass media towards religious organizations and religion in general.
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