Week 1: A Brief Review April 5-11

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:

  • 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:

Questions

  • 0

    First week

    Don Wright

    Welcome to Japan 101

  • 0

    Konnichiwa

    Naoko Brown

    Nice to meet you!

  • 0

    test

    Joze

    Konnichiwa, mina-san!

  • 0

    Jesse Musial Testing Question

    jmusial

    Jesse Musial Testing Comment

  • 0

    Hi!

    WCathy

    Test comment

  • 0

    This is a comment

    Don Wright

    Comment!

  • 0

    Konnichiwa.

    Peggy Burkosky

    This is a test to see if this is the correct “Comment” section to submit my writing assignment. Arigatou!

  • 1

    Is this where we submit our writing assignments?

    Peggy Burkosky

    I am hoping to hear back from the group whether we submit our writing assignments here or not. Thank you.

    • Joze

      Yes, I believe so. Each week has this section in them. So for this week, this is where we write our mini-essays.

  • 3

    Joze (Week 1) Reflection

    Joze

    Interesting:
    – I liked the mythological origins story. However, it was curious that it didn’t explain how human beings came to be. I think I got the part that the gods made the islands, begat the sun and storm gods, then the tricking of Amaterasu, but then she starts teaching people how to cultivate wheat, silkworms. Where did the people come from? Is there another origin story that Japanese people know that talks about how people began? This is an interesting topic for me because in other mythological origin stories, people were created as a byproduct of conflict between gods and people were created to serve gods. But in the Hebrew Bible, Genesis flips the script and talks about one Creator God who creates humans to co-rule with Him here on earth.

    – In the Operation Japan book, it was interesting that bullying is a serious concern in the schools (OJ, p.11), but also that Japan has a declining crime rate (OJ, p.13). I wonder why bullying is happening. Is it a combination of factors such as, absentee parenting, domestic violence, toxic work environment leading to a toxic family environment? But then, with the declining crime rate, will the current concern for bullying reverse that trend in the future?

    Umm:
    – I’m not sure I find the Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestry Hypothesis compelling. With the source of one blog post, I’m not convinced that’s methodologically sound. It’s great that there are Japanese festivals and practices that are akin to Jewish practices; these can create bridges for conversations. But there are some things that don’t quite add up for me.

    1) Operation Japan says that Buddhism came to Japan in the 6th century (OJ, p.12), but he notes 7th century (UJ, p.6).

    2) The 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel would have more likely passed on the idea of building statues of calves instead of lions because the main centres of worship for Israel then were the golden calves in Bethel and Dan that King Jeroboam had built (2 Kgs.10:29).

    3) His references to “ancient times” are ambiguous for me if his recorded history begins around the 3rd century AD (UJ, p.9).

    There isn’t enough evidence yet that after the Kingdom of Israel was exiled by Assyria in 722BC they would have travelled all the way to Central and Far Asia (UJ, p.8) as he claims.

    However, could there be other possibilities? Could it just be that Jews after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD eventually scattered and ended up in Asia (e.g. Russia and China) and passed on their stories and practices? It would seem more likely that these links would have been passed on by the Jewish diaspora to other people groups rather than be direct descendants of “the ten lost tribes of Israel.”

    • Naoko Brown

      Joze,
      Thank you very much for your comments and good questions.

      Where did humans were born according to the Japanese creation story? From what I understand, some of the gods bore islands, and some gods bore humans. But since the humans came from gods, does it make the humans actually divine human just like the imperial family is supposed to be? Yes, it is confusing!! Thank you for pointing it out. I will keep searching the answer.

      Regarding bullying, as you mentioned absentee parenting, domestic violence, etc., and those must be parts of the reason. In addition, Japanese tend to hold negative emotions inside and do not talk about it very often due to shame based thinking. Also Japan is a performance oriented society and unconditional love is not much talked about. All these things and combination of some could trigger it.

      I like all of your three points about the Japanese-Jewish common ancestry hypothesis. This theory can be an interesting discussion point with Japanese people, if brought up at the right moment. We need to be prepared to talk about it, if they bring it up to us, too.

    • Gina Kato

      Hi!

      Regarding bullying, I was bullied as a child. For me it was very comforting to have older kids nearby to support you and defend you.

    • Rachel

      Joze: Regarding bullying, I think (somewhat negatively, I’m afraid) that it is somehow an integral part of the Japanese system. Centuries of top-down control requiring everyone to be overly-interested in (and judgmental of?) their neighbors, has perhaps resulted in critique of others at every level. It is not only children who are bullied and bullying each other. Teachers are also bullied, along with employees in general at many levels. I think bullying and harassment (ijime and iyagarase) contribute to suicides across the age-span. Somehow perhaps harassment and sanctioned abuses are necessary to the Japanese culture of top-down control? Jesus needs to transform Japan. I could be wrong — these are just my own thoughts, unsupported by any actual research!

      Gina: I am so sorry for your early experience! We lived near an elementary school in Japan, and I have seen sad examples of bullying by students on the street. I know those actions continue at school and also at home in the apartment buildings and on playgrounds. Sometimes I wanted to stop the car and get out to tell a child or group of children to Stop It !!

  • 3

    Peggy - Impressions and Points From Reading

    Peggy Burkosky

    I appreciate what I’ve read so far since my goal is to be able to engage in meaningful and well-informed discussion when I’m in Japan. I find the theory that “some link the origin of the Japanese people to the Tungus people of the north” especially intriguing. The Tungus people are a Siberian ethnic group and I was fascinated when living in Hokkaido (north Japan) that the artistic designs used by the inhabitants called Ainu, a people group obscure in their origins, are uncannily similar to the design patterns used in clothing, pottery, etc. to our indigenous people in British Columbia where I live, and you see these kinds of design patterns carried out across the continents especially in the northern hemisphere. Check this out: https://japanesegarden.org/2017/06/26/parallel-worlds-art-ainu-hokkaido-native-americans-pacific-northwest/
    Another intriguing theory is that the Japanese people are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel.” Rather than saying “descended” I might be more comfortable with saying that they were influenced. Of interest is a scholars archive paper I researched: The Lost Tribes of Israel In The Pacific and Asian Rim: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1054&context=mphs
    This paper describes significant influences of Jewish inhabitants in regions of China approximately 600 BC as well as evidence of Japanese exploration into China at this time.

    • Joze

      Cool about the Ainu people! Your comment was also timely because we had just watchedan episode of “One Strange Rock” on Disney+ that highlighted the Kamchatka people group (who live on the Kamchatka Peninsula just NE of Japan). And we noted how their facial features, dance, clothing and art reminded us of the First Nations peoples. And so this connection between the Ainu and the Tungus is fascinating.

    • Brandalyn

      For years I have felt that there is much similarity between traditional Japanese music and dance and art and that of North America indigenous populations!

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Peggy for your comment and sharing the links. It is interesting to read about the Kaifeng China where the Israelites settled down. The lost tribes scattered all over the places and influenced the culture where they settled. Although what left in each culture now are rather hallow rituals, it makes me wonder that having Israel’s blood running through the people in the world means something important in God’s big picture and His wonderful plan.

  • 3

    Jocelyn (Week 1) Reflections

    Jocelyn

    Admittedly, I do not know very much about the history of Japan. I always find it interesting to read about the origins of people groups of how they migrated, and have become the people groups they are today. Although there is no 100% way of knowing exactly how people groups have migrated, it is still interesting to see the surrounding areas and how people groups have mixed.

    I found the part about the Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory interesting. Although I’m not entirely convinced that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, it would be interesting to see how over time as people groups migrated and brought with them their beliefs, and how that has over time just been adapted and adopted with each culture it came across.

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Jocelyn! Thank you very much for your comment. I heard in the past some people say that since Japan is an island, the Japanese race is purer than other countries. But it is totally not true at all. The Lord sent many wonderful cultures and knowledge to Japan from other countries.

    • Gina Kato

      Jocelyn,

      Hi!

      My grandparents immigrated into the U.S. speaking Japanese only. My parents were born here speaking Japanese and English. My parents did not speak Japanese to me because my older siblings were told they could not speak Japanese in school. My parents stopped speaking Japanese to my siblings and me. I understand conversational Japanese because my parents spoke to each other in Japanese, but I was not encouraged to speak Japanese. I hope to learn to speak and read Japanese someday soon.

    • tuchidalee

      Hi Jocelyn!

      You’re not alone in the lack of knowledge in Japan’s history. Maybe in the last 5 years I started getting more interested in learning about my culture and background as I toured museums and visiting the country itself. Last time I was in Japan was in 2015, when my two oldest kids were under 5 years old. My parents immigrated from Japan when I was like in the 1st grade. We only spoke Japanese in our household. My younger sister and I went to the really hard J-school to keep up with my language and culture. It was frustrating and difficult childhood and teenage years. I guess now that I’m older, I appreciate what my parents did for us because they wanted to hold on to our culture and language as long as possible. They weren’t ready to let it all go just because we lived in the US. Even with that, I only speak conversational Japanese as well and hiragana/katakana – easy, read simple kanji.

  • 3

    Week 1 Reflections

    tuchidalee

    One of the most intriguing theory I read in this chapter is about the Japanese people are descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel. I never heard about this, so this information was completely interesting. I’m also 100% not sure if I completely agree or conviced that this is true.

    Amaterasu’s story and it’s interesting how even though she’s a goddess, she had to hide from her brother Susanowo. Only out of her own curiosity she was almost lured out of her cave to come out. It is also interesting that her main sanctuary is rebuilt every 20 years.

    Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestry Theory. Jewish customs and rituals were readily received and adopted during the formation of this new nation and culture. In this way, Shintoism, which was in a developmental stage, would have adopted Jewish customs along with the pagan customs of Baal and other gods. I appreciated the cross references with the Bible of different religious ceremonies in Japan. However, I think there are many religions that has similar story basis.

    I definitely have faded knowledge of history of Japan. It is interesting that only influential families gained influence and political power especially in the Fujiwara and Tokugawa periods.

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Takako! Thank you for your comment. My husband and I have visited the Ise Grand shrine, which is dedicated to Amaterasu. It is a popular place for pilgrimage, and the atmosphere of the shrine was very solemn. A Japanese couple, who took us there pointed out to a building, which is a kitchen to cook food just for gods. Everything there was for gods and human beings visit to show respect and be blessed. We went to see the couple friends hoping to share something about our God, but because of their dedication to the Japanese gods, we just became quiet and prayed in our heart for our friends’ salvation.

    • tuchidalee

      That is so awesome and I would like to go see it some time. Thank you for the insight.

  • 3

    How do modern Japanese understand the beginnings of Japan as told in the Kojiki?Kojiki

    Rachel

    Sorry, I am late with Wk 1 assignments … we do have the Samuel Lee book, but I have been unsuccessful in finding it yet in our boxes. Another copy is coming soon from Amazon.

    Knowing just a bit about the mythological beginnings of Japan (Amaterasu Omikami, Izanagi & Izanami, etc.) … my question is regarding how this creation myth is currently taught in Japan’s school system? How do modern Japanese think of these stories? Do they learn the stories simply as myth & legend, or as something more? And when they learn of the Biblical Creation narrative, do they equate the 2 as myth & fantasy?

    • Joze

      Thanks, Rachel. I wondered something similar. In addition to whether the origin story is taught in the Japanese school system, I’m also wondering if these stories are still passed on in families from one generation to the next. For those in Hawai’i or those of Japanese ethnicity, have you heard these stories from your family?

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Rachel. I looked into a few Japanese history textbooks, but those books do not teach the Japanese creation story as the beginning of Japanese history. Instead these books mention that human being looked more like monkeys at the beginning. I also asked a few Japanese friends, but their children in 6th and 7th grades have not heard about the story. One other child said she has read it in Manga. Anyway, it is a historical fact that the story was written and taken seriously by the Japanese people in the past, so sometime in their lives they will be taught or read about it, but it is presented as a legend. Those who have strong faith in Shinto would know about this story.

    • Rachel

      Joze: I asked my husband about his experience, as he is “Nikkei” (of Japanese heritage) raised in Hawaii. He says he was never taught any Japanese history as a child, and never heard of the Japanese creation stories when growing up. However, some Nikkei families make sure their children attend Japanese School on Saturdays, and depending where they study (Buddhist temple or Shinto Shrine?) perhaps those topics are covered.

      Naoko Sensei: Thank you for checking the textbooks and asking your friends! Yes, I suppose those who study Shinto more deeply may be more familiar with the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki narratives. Perhaps the many references to the “Tenchi-kaibyaku” throughout Japanese literature and down into modern day manga, anime, and gaming show that these stories still carry much cultural weight and influence.

  • 3

    Brandalyn week 1

    Brandalyn

    I find these Jewish-Japanese similarities so neat and so exciting. The more I have researched it, the more exciting bits I learn. McGreggor’s book ‘ Shinto the Gospel’s gate” also gives some fascinating insight into the Oharai ceremony and I find that amazingly parallel to the Jewish sacrifices of lambs for our sin and releasing the scapegoat into the wilderness. I have found some of these topics to be great open doors for conversations around the Bible and it’s possible relevance to my Japanese friends. They have found it to be as intriguing as I have found it to be.

    • Peggy Burkosky

      Hey all – how do we send out “replies” to comments? I click the “Reply” icon and fill in the comment box … then where do I go from there?

    • Naoko Brown

      Peggy, you did reply to Brandalyn’s comment correctly.

      Brandalyn, I heard more younger Japanese people have heard about this Jewish-Japanese theory and intrigued by it. I also saw a video where Jewish students who are studying in Japan were amazed to see some similarities in Japanese and Jewish culture.

  • 1

    Week 1 - Reflection

    Gina Kato

    There are people in Japan who need help. With business people losing their business and committing suicide, most people can be helped in getting through their moment of crisis if they have someone who will take them seriously, spend time with them, listen, and help them talk about their thoughts and feelings. Secondly, there are junior and senior high school girls losing their virginity, they need help with their self-esteem and help with their life of hardship.

    I learned discipleship is important because “baptized Japanese fall away within the first five years.” Secondly, I learned religious cults are attracting Japanese youths like the Unification church.

    The Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestry Theory is comparison and contrast to Christianity.

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Gina for your love and compassion to the Japanese people. We will learn more about the Japanese society and its problems later in the course. Looking forward to discuss these things with you.