Is it possible to regard a country (Japan) where people don't know mindfulness, as a Buddhist country? It can't be possible. That's because mindfulness is the core teaching of the Buddha. If mindfulness is not there, concentration and insight (wisdom) will be impossible. And if understanding (insight) is not there, It's impossible to generate compassion. So, it is no exaggeration to say that Buddhist teaching starts from mindfulness.
We can practice mindfulness through mindful breathing, mindful walking or any mindful actions in our daily life. And the key of mindfulness is to stop thinking, or to bring our mind back to the present moment from the past or the future. When we become mindful, we can touch the wonders of life. In other words, mindfulness means the transformation of oneself from ego (separate self) who is wandering in the past or the future to true self (non-separate self, or Buddha nature) in the here and the now.
Of course, if we have completed self-transformation, we can stop thinking and attain perfect freedom without separation, discrimination, or duality. Because we can accept all without separation unconditionally, the possibility of causing afflictions becomes much lower. Even if afflictions arise by accident, we can immediately take good care of them, so there will be no problems. That's why we feel bliss. As a result of mindfulness, we will be able to touch the wonders of life and generate joy, happiness and life energy. The energy of mindfulness enables us to recognize what is going on inside and around us like still water which can reflect the reality like a mirror, without seeing illusions through our mental projection.
Mindfulness is the start line of Buddha's teaching. And after that, we look deeply by concentration to attain insight (wisdom), and we will finally understand the true nature of the reality to attain nirvana (extinction of all notions). This is the full enlightenment. And I summarized this series of concrete practice methods into my new book titled "How to Awaken Yourself - The way of mindful living -". (Please refer to the following URL.)
Japanese people are too much ashamed to say that they don't know mindfulness even though they are Buddhists. Or, that’s rather a waste of the great teaching of the Buddha. That's because even though the Buddha shared the great teaching for the peace and happiness of the whole cosmos including humans, it has not been transmitted correctly to Japanese people. What a waste! What have Japanese people been learning from Buddhism for these 1,500 years? They must stop misunderstanding anymore that the Buddhist funeral business is the true teaching of the Buddha. It's not too late yet. That's because if we transform the seeds in consciousness in the present moment, we will be able to change the past and create the future.