Week 1: A Brief Review September 6-12

Week 1 Japan – A Brief Review

Conference Call: The time for the call will be arranged so that the participants will all be able to get acquainted.

Japan 101 Week 1 Video


Reading: 1. Understanding Japan: Part One Japan–A Brief Review

  • Chapter One: Origin of the Japanese People

2. Japan-Guide

  • As you have time and interest, read Historical Section-Early Japan through Azuchi-Momoyama Period.
  • You may read as many sections as you have time for.

Writing: Weekly Paper: “Impressions and Points from Your Reading”

  • Each writing assignment throughout the course has a 100 word minimum and no maximum word limit. Use this as an opportunity to reflect and apply what you have read. This is to be written in your comment section of Japan 101.
  • Read as many of the other students’ writings and comment on at least two of them. Comments need not meet a 100-word limit.


  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan. Make a note in your blog concerning the information and/or your prayer.

Extra Suggestions:

Here are some of the links that others have shared:


  • 4

    Max week 1 reflections

    Max Chau

    The thing that was most interesting for me is the Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory. Until I read this, I did not think that this could be a possibility. Indeed, There does seem to be some common traditions between Japanese and Jews.

    Additionally, I really like the divine creation story from the Japanese mythical perspective. In 2011, I visited the shrine in Ise, Mie and I only knew that this shrine was for the imperial family and that they are the only ones allowed into the middle section, I did not know this shrine was related to the mythical creation story.

    Also, I’ve played plenty of games using those god’s names like amaterasu and susanoo and did not know they were such important gods.

    • Paxton Blunier

      Hi, Max!
      I thought the same thing about the Japanese and Jewish had common ancestry theory and how interesting they correlate to one another. That’s really interesting that you play games with these gods names in them. This is the first time I have heard about the gods that the Japanese believe in. Very interesting story. I have yet to visit a shrine but I have gone to a Buddhist temple. It definitely is a different experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed getting to read it! I look forward to getting to know you more in this class!!


    • Bblunier

      Hey Max! It was very intriguing reading about the possible connection between the Jewish heritage and the Japanese. In a way, this can be a bridge to share others about the “context” behind each passage of Scripture!!

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Max! Thank you for your passion for bringing the Japanese to Christ! The Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory is good knowledge to have. Some Japanese may be intrigued, and some may deny immediately, but it is a good topic to discuss at some right moments.

      All your invested time in games will pay off because, with your experience, you will immediately become friends with Japanese gamers! 🙂


    • April Buben

      Hi Max! I haven’t been able to meet too many of the other students but hello! I totally agree, I also have played games including the Japanese gods and did not realize they held such high significance in their culture and history. I also had heard of the theory of Jewish and Japanese correlation but did not realize how many similarities there really are! Truly fascinating and encouraging!

  • 4



    Hey everybody!

  • 2

    Week 1 Reflection

    Paxton Blunier

    As I was reading chapter 1, I learned a lot of new things about Japan that I never realized before. As I read it, it continued to break my heart for what breaks God’s heart. I just continue to pray over Japan and the people that God would remove the veil from their eyes and that God would be revealed in their lives and hearts.
    It was very fascinating to me to read about how Japan became more developed after World War 2. Also that Japan is broken up into 4 main islands and 3,900 small island. When I read that they have disputes with neighboring countries, I pray that there would be peace among them and peace within the Japanese people’s hearts that only comes from God.
    It broke my heart as I was reading about the “Mythological origins” of Japan and how through that theory has brought about Shinto beliefs. I was fascinated about the story and how some people believe that Japan began and was formed by the gods, Izanagi and Izanami.
    It really caught my attention when reading about the “Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestry Theory”. I think it’s cool how they bring in stories of the Bible and add it to their traditions or celebrations. When I think of the story of Isaac from the Bible, I think of how it took faith and obedience from Abraham to follow what God called him, to take Isaac into the wilderness to sacrifice him. Then from his obedience God provided the lamb as a sacrifice in Isaacs place. Whenever I read this story I think of the foretelling for when God sent His only son Jesus as the sacrificial lamb that covers all our sins. This is a good reminder for me to pray for the Japanese people that God would reveal Himself to them as their sacrificial lamb. That they would learn to die to self pick up their cross and follow Him as Christ commands us. The other examples I thought were neat in how the Japanese culture and the things that they do correlate to some Jewish customs and stories in the Bible.
    I just pray that we all would continue to lift up Japan daily and that God wold draw them to Himself.

    • Faith Minter

      It definitely broke my heart for the Japanese people as well! Echoing your prayers and praying they can find a relationship with Him.

    • Naoko Brown

      I love watching some Japanese movies and animes, but in the end, I often have a brokenheart. Although they embrace the beauty of nature, tradition, and human goodness, the most important thing is missing. But our broken heart for them is a big motivator to reach out to them in Christ! Let’s keep learning and seeking how we can bring them to Christ.

  • 3

    Week 1Reflection


    In this chapter, it shocked me that Japan in the former days was such a polytheistic culture. Reading about Japan nowadays, I can see that Shintoism and Buddhism are the two primary religions. But I was curious to read the history of polytheism in Japan, especially since it reflects what people believe in nowadays. This would be a great history lesson to follow up on in my spare time.

    It shocked me when I read about the Jewish theory to the Japanese people. In a way, this is a good thing for Christians to bridge the gospel, even though the context is of Jewish descent. Talking about the biblical stories can help people understand the “context” behind the stories.

    • Faith Minter

      You’re right! It definitely could be a very interesting way to bring up the gospel.

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Ben! I don’t think every Japanese believes in Japanese mythology, but many respect the story and take pride in it. I have gone to shrines and temples with my Japanese friends, and I realized they all try to obey the rituals not to offend the gods. Especially as they get older, they embrace culture and rituals more than before, which is similar to Americans going back to church after they get married and have children.

    • YollyKezia

      I also really shock when I read about the Jewish theory too!
      It so interesting to see how heavy their religious history is back in that days. and it makes me wonder how did Japan now days (some of part or people?) end up being so unreligious and just do it for ritual as Naoko said.

  • 3

    Faith Week 1 Reflections

    Faith Minter

    I am really looking forward to continuing to read Understanding Japan! The first chapter was already filled with so many things that I found interesting. The mythological creation story was such a fun take on creation. I would absolutely love to visit the places of importance to that story that were mentioned in the book.

    I also had never thought about the similarities the book mentioned between the Jewish and Japanese cultures. Reading through the list in the book though makes me wonder!

    I think my biggest takeaway would have to be about the Ontosai festival that used to be celebrated. I love all the similarities the festival had with the story of Isaac.

    Praying over school aged children in Japan today. Reading through some of the Operation Japan book it really tugged on my heart when it mentioned the suicide rate amongst children, youth selling their virginity to business men, and the high rate of bullies in schools.

    • Naoko Brown

      Faith, thank you for praying for the Japanese children. Whenever I see pictures of little Japanese kids on the Operation Japan Facebook page, my heart aches. Jesus loves them, and we would love to sew the Gospel seed in their heart.

    • Paxton Blunier

      Hi, Faith!
      Thank you for sharing! The similarities between Jewish and Japanese stuck out to me as well. I loved how they talked about the story of Issac. Thanks for sharing you prayer, that was really cool to see what God laid on your heart. Can’t wait to get to know you more and continue to learn with everyone as well!

    • sgjacobs14

      Hi Faith,

      I liked your point on getting to know the mythological side of things better. Growing up always watching anime, I knew a lot of culture things but never applied them in a Christian context, so this is helping me get a better understanding of Japanese mythological culture. In the same way, it’s helping me understand some of the Jewish *supposed* background that alludes to Christian themes.

  • 4

    Week 1


    Something that I talk about a lot with supporters is identity. On one extreme, Americans can do and be whoever they want at any time. On the other extreme, Japanese people seem very limited in their identities having to rely on the families they’re born in and the jobs they belong to. After reading the introductory (and some before that) I realized more and more that a lot of the culture is built off of biblical foundations. It reminds me of how the Declaration of Independence has scripture in it and was written by some Christian men. With that being said, going forward I’d like to learn more about why it’s so difficult to approach Japanese people with a Christian identity when there are already things written into their culture that align with Christianity. There are a lot things that, if applied in a biblical context, I feel would help them more easily grasp Christianity.

    • Kmara1222

      Hi there! I think it’s very encouraging that you seem some cultural clues to how we can share the gospel in a way for our Christian friends to grasp it more clearly and easily! It’s so true that they’re regularly limited in their roles and identities, and it causes many struggles– at least in the friends I have close to me. It’ll be interesting to see where this course takes us, to understand their perspectives and how to best minister to them.

    • Max Chau

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the reflection, I think there are additional things like some cultural aspects that is having a hard time sinking in. For instance, the ‘wa’ (harmony) of the group. If a single Japanese person became christians, it’s really hard for them to bring back the gospel to his friends or family because potentially talking about Jesus and disturbing the harmony of the group will lead to persecution and rejection, so I think that is why some missionaries now try to share to gospel to a whole family at a time, rather than an individual, that way the family will live through the persecution together.

    • nhendradi

      I think the way Western people seeing identity are different from the way Eastern people see. As an Asian, our identity is more collectivist rather than individualist as Western people emphasized. We, as Asian emphasized family and community rather than freedom as individual. For sure, both have biblical foundation. But, this is also the cultural barrier between Eastern and Western. I’m not a Japanese, but this worldview is a common rule in our Asian society, including Japan. However, as globalization comes to every place in the world, Japan is more Western than the Western themselves. So Japan society is a complex society, a mixture between Eastern and Western mind.

      It would be a challenge to see how gospel transforms Japanese from their perspective. Our Christian identity sometimes tied with our cultural values and maybe that is the reason most people see Christian is a Western religion. We have a tendency to equate our cultural form Christianity with Christian. We will always read the bible through our cultural lenses. May God gives us wisdom to share the good news so that the Japanese could see the bible through their eyes – their unique perspective, and not our cultural eyes.

    • Naoko Brown

      Sarah and everybody,

      I love reading all these great discussions! Nobody has the key to open Japanese people’s hearts to Jesus, but I know you are touching some of your Japanese friends’ hearts with love and grace. It requires patients to understand them, and each person is different. Sometimes I even have frustrating moments. Anyway, THANK YOU for all you are doing to Jesus and the Japanese people.

  • 4

    Week 1: April

    April Buben

    I have truly enjoyed learning about Japan’s culture even before this class but now I am looking forward to understanding Japan in a more historical and biblical context. One of the things that called me to focus on Japan in mission work was how influential Japan is to the world. I thought, if Japan reaches so many people, how amazing would it be if they could be a beacon of hope that points to Jesus! I couldn’t have agreed more that Japan is a huge catalyst for influencing the world. It also was shocking and saddening that though Japan as a nation has achieved great feats, it suffers greatly from high rates of sucide…to the point of there being websites to help attain death. It hurts my heart to learn that and lights an even brighter fire to share the hope in Jesus!

    It was also interesting to put pop culture in the context of Japan’s historical culture. I had never thought of how the media we consume is heavily derived from their historical and spiritual beliefs. A few came to mind but one in particular struck me, the game “Okami”. This game is literally based off of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu who comes to the world as a white wolf. I never realized that that story is connected to how Japan was formed.

    Knowing these things also helps me understand the basis and foundation Japanese people start from when they hear about Christ. And to be honest, it’s far and yet more similar than I could have imagined. I look forward to reading more and gain wisdom on how to share the gospel with this people group!

    • Kmara1222

      Hi April, I’ve never really thought of it before, but I guess that you’re right about the massive influence that Japan has on the world! It is interesting to see what an impact this strong country has.
      Also, I couldn’t agree more that it must have some serious spiritual significance if we consider the way that it is always under spiritual attack- like by way of this suicide and mental health struggle for example?! It’s very exciting for us to learn ways to reach them in a way that will be most effective.

    • YollyKezia

      Hey April, I totally agree with what you said. Seeing Japan impact on the world in so many aspect makes me wonder too about The Gospel. It’s exciting to see the blessing from it.
      I’m watch some documentary on the Siran subway attack and the religious cult behind it. What a jaw breaking moment it’s when the documentary said that the cult them self have their own anime about their leader. So I guess from Japan’s media we could really see glimpse of their identity and story.

    • nhendradi

      Hi April, I also agree with you and the other. Imagining Japanese people be won for Christ makes my heart trembling with excitement. I really hope Japan would be like Korea. As Korean be won for Christ, they sent thousands of missionary around the world, including my country, Indonesia. Their financial supports for missionaries were extremely great and the impact would be global.

      As a highly influential country, imagine there would be a biblical story wrapped up in an imaginative way like Narnia in Japan. Imagine there would be a contextual anime immersed with biblical stories and imagination! Oh, what a wonderful day would it be!

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, April! Yes, Japan has A LOT of potentials to be a big light of the world. Yet I think there is strong oppression over Japan in the spiritual realm. Let’s keep praying, learning, and loving the people, and one day it will reach the tipping point and the flood gate will open up!

  • 0



    Hey April! Yes, Japan has a lot of influence in the world. How greater that influence will be if Japan were not only sending out economic goods, but missionaries also! 🙂

  • 1

    Week 1 Reflections


    Hey everyone, my apologies for missing the Zoom call, but I watched the recording and am catching up with everything from the class now! From our first chapter, I feel like I got a nice overview of Japan’s history, the way that it has shaped the thoughts and actions of the society as a whole up until now.
    I’m certain that their history and cultural traits hold clues for us to share the gospel! I’m also interested to delve more into the topic of Japanese animism and polytheism, and to be aware of how that perspective might influence even the “self-proclaimed agnostic” or atheistic Japanese of today.
    It’s going to be an interesting learning experience to be sure. I’m excited to understand specific strategies in sharing Jesus in an effective way with the Japanese friends I have closest to me.

    • Max Chau

      thanks for your reflection, Kristen!
      I think this class will definitely teach us a bunch of the cultural clues needed to spread the gospel to the Japanese.
      Maybe next zoom, you’ll be able to attend, which I don’t know when it will be!

  • 1

    Week 1


    As a person who watch a little bit of anime, I amazed on how Japanese mythology and culture are so deeply embodied in their anime, which is a very common and daily art. They could somehow articulate the narration and imagination really well and pack it in a very entertaining well. And when I read about them being expert on adopting new culture and adding their own culture since ancient time, it all makes sense. I never thought about it being applied to Gospel, imagining Japanese people give the same amount of their efforts in sharing the Gospel, what a blessing it might lead to!
    The Jewish-Japan theory it’s really interesting too. And it could be used to be a “bridge” on introducing Gospel to them. It is so fascinating to see that in the this less than 1% Christianity country, there’s actually something that’s been relate to Christianity and God himself since their ancient history. For me it really shows that there is hope for Japan. God has plan for them and of course love them
    My heart broke when I read about foreign traders and missionary acted aggressively and intolerant toward the native of Japanese. This really remind me again to be mindful on how to share the good news to people. It’s not just about the content we share, but also the way we deliver it.

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Yolly! When I first read about the Jewish-Japan theory, I was reassured that Japan was not formed by accident nor God did not ignore the little pagan country. He has a wonderful plan for Japan and the Japanese people. It is exciting, isn’t it!?

  • 1


    Annika Cooke

    I was finally able to make it to the platform….

  • 1

    Nathan Week 1 Reflections


    Hey everyone, I apologize for giving this reflection very late.

    After I read chapter 1, several reflections come up in my mind:
    – First, as an anime lover, I recognize that Japan is a high culture nation where religious aspect is embedded and embodied in every aspect of life. And in correlation with the Japanese creation mythology, I’m amazed that this myth presented in art, movie, anime again and again and again. No wonder, people’s imagination have been captured and shaped at the very young age by this religious myth. By seeing this phenomenon, I think that there are no clear-cut boundaries between sacred and secular in Japanese culture. Every simple activity like watching anime or greetings always tied with Buddhism or Shinto tradition. Every ritual and daily life activity always have religious meaning for them. In contrast, as Indonesian, I see my country as multicultural, and with this plurality, there are clear cut boundaries between sacred and secular in our country.

    -Second, the Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory is quite fascinating! Historical and sociological studies must be carried out to prove the truth of this hypothesis. But for me, I quite pessimistic to obtain the true social and historical reconstruction about Japanese and Jewish common ancestry due to our limitation in acquiring the objective data at that real time. At the end, this remains a hypothesis. So, here’s my reflection. Regardless whether this is the true and objective facts or only just a conjecture, by seeing this commonality with Christian faith, I believe that God is working in Japan! Usually, as missionary or Christian, we think that God is finally working through the coming of the missionary. But, I believe that God had been working, is being working, and always working in Japanese heart prior to the coming of the Christian. As we sing the hymn ‘this is our Father’s world,” I believe than Japan is also in God’s hand. Regardless the distortion of sin in human culture so that they belief in their local myth, by seeing this commonality, I also believe God upholds his creation, preparing the ‘ground,’ and He is inviting us to collaborate with Him to invite them in the union with Christ.

    • Naoko Brown


      I appreciate your comment, “there are no clear-cut boundaries between sacred and secular in Japanese culture.” How true it is. In the Japanese mind, there is a sense of deep-seated pride with their culture and spiritual background, and at the same time, they are making light of these things to break the old style and make everything modern.

  • 1

    Week 1: Andrew


    I was first shocked by the amount of similarity between the Ontosai Festival and the Story of Isaac. I think a lot of these festivals and places have a great potential to use as bridges to spiritual conversations with Japanese people.

    The second thing that stood out to me was the divine lineage traced from the deity Amaterasu and the Emperor. I’ve heard about this before and I think this informs how the Japanese have viewed the Emperor as divine. Considering how these myths claim that the Japanese are descendants from gods, I think this is a barrier that has influenced Japanese thought about their relation with other asian and other countries around the world. I think this is what keeps the Japanese as an unreached people group, the pride and superiority over other people groups.

    • Naoko Brown

      Andrew, thank you for your comment. The Japanese pride of being descendants of gods and worshipping the emperor caused lots of tragedy especially during World War 2. Although things are changing and younger people, in general, do not think that way, there is a spiritual stronghold that is keeping them to be open to the Gospel.