Week 2: Communication September 20-26



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

    • 1. In light of these factors (silence, ambiguity, implicit communication) what key elements do you think should be forefront in our minds or how should we differently structure our message when ministering to Japanese?
    • 2. What has been your experience with these elements of Japanese communication?
    • Read the discussion questions at the end of the chapter. Are there any that you think highlight a key point that merits further discussion by the class, specifically as it relates to how we think about and approach ministry to the Japanese?
    • Read as many of the other students’ writings and comment on at least two of them.
    • Optional:
      Read the discussion questions at the end of the chapter. Are there any that you think highlight a key point that merits further discussion by the class, specifically as it relates to how we think about and approach ministry to the Japanese?


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


    • 0



      I found Anne’s blog and all the chapters so helpful. Having worked with Japanese for a long time, I understood some of this but it helped understand at a deeper level and were great reminders because I get so caught up in my own culture and way of doing things. I plan to be much more intentional about reading other social clues to see if I can understand what they are really trying to comunicate. Also, to work on being patient with silence. I jump in way too fast to respond.

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      Definitely have seen this in communicating with Japanese. I find as I get to know students better here in the US they become more honest. But I look forward to being more self aware of my quick responses and paying more attention to their non verbal communication.

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      Chapter – Exploring Cross Cultural Issues Question 3 and 5. Offering solutions about the amibiguity of cross cultural communication.
      Chinmaku chapter- #7 under Exploring cross cultural issues. Deals with homestay situations.
      A discussion of high context/low context cultures would be good.

    • 0

      Joze (Week 2) Reflection



      The concept of “chinmoku” is fascinating in that there are positive and negative elements to it. Positive in that it forces one to think more thoughtfully before speaking or acting, and to consider the harmony in the relationship with the group. This is like many Asian (Chinese, Filipino), Middle Eastern, and African (Guinean, Nigerien, Senegalese) ways of “saving face” and being careful not to shame a person in the eyes of the community. Negative in that it can also be used to alienate and to castigate someone from the community (or even in that immediate context and relationship).

      What I don’t quite understand yet are:

      – In p.53, it says, “to show off one’s ability or knowledge openly makes a bad impression on others in Japan, and such people are considered thoughtless, impolite, and immature.” How then does one share (or teach) about faith or the Bible in more sensitive ways? Does this statement only apply to “showoffs” (which are also no-no’s in the West) or to being forthcoming in general? Does one have to be given permission by a leader or person of authority before communicating information or opinion? What about in informal settings, how does this work when one is genuinely wanting to know something about someone (what they know, what they can do, or what they’ve experienced)?

      – In Japanese TV shows (Midnight Diner) and anime, it seems to me that there have been frequent expressions of anger, disagreement, and defiance. Is this ok because it’s mediated (indirect communication) through a fictionalized situation? Would storytelling, then, be a useful tool to communicate something to someone indirectly (whether it’s the case of teaching something from the Bible or just communicating that what the other person did hurt you)?


      This ambiguity in communication is very interesting, but also seems to be something that will be challenging in the future. It’s something that I don’t think I’ve really experienced before, even among my Japanese-Canadian friends growing up. It seems that this concept of “aimai” takes aspects of indirect communication (saying things in a roundabout way and context is key to unlocking the situation), humility (saying things that won’t shame others or that will present oneself as arrogant) and coded messages (saying things that makes sense to everyone in the group, but not to outsiders). This will definitely be a life-long lesson to learn.


      I wonder, having read this now a second time and still having ambiguous feelings towards the writing of this chapter, how this concept would have been if it were compared with other “Eastern ways of thinking” rather than the explicit comparisons with the West, as if that were the only other alternative. What I mean by this is: how is “haragei” similar to or different than the implicit, high contextual communication happening in the Middle East, West Africa or other parts of Asia?

      The questions that keeps popping up in reading this book are:

      – Are the graduate students who wrote the different parts of this book Japanese students who only researched Japanese and Western thought? Were they encouraged to research the high context cultures of their neighbours, or other cultures?

      – To what extent were their writings “extensively edited” (p.5) by the editors?

    • 1

      Communicating with the Japanese


      I have spent many years working with the Thais. And I noticed a distinct similarity with the Japanese. Outwardly polite to the point of subservience, but never truly expressing their true feelings to the farang(thai) or gaijin(Japanese).
      In Thailand, the key for me was to have a good local bilingual Thai partner, who has exposure to our thought process, yet knows the nuances of his or her own culture. Without this bridge, it would have been tough communicationg and understanding the Thais.

      For Japan, a more recent experience but I have used a proven route – working with Singapore based Japanese, who are married to a local Singaporean who can act as the bridge.

      Maybe less ideal than if i were to spent years understanding the language and culture, but guess time and aptitude does not allow give me the luxury of that approach.

      A tripartie relationship works well for me, but it does not mean that one does not make an effort to undersand the Japanese mind. Hence my attending this course.

      • Joze

        Great point, Gideon! Having a cultural mediator/translator is so helpful. Have you found that, over time, you’re getting a better handle on the culture now than before? What were some of the more significant learning pieces for you?

    • 1

      Jim's Comments

      Jim Woo

      1. For one, giving space to think is definitely preferred with people from Japan. I learned the hard way and have lost at least one friend because of this mistake caused by cultural differences. Perhaps Pastor Chip’s method of presenting the facts and letting them draw the conclusion would be an honoring way of presenting the gospel.

      2. I have a friend, who fortunately is more forgiving. Unfortunately, I had tried to use Rev3:20 as a way of inviting this friend to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. It wasn’t asked out of place, for we were visiting a cathedral in San Francisco, and my friend was asking about the different saints and the meaning of the cross. What I hadn’t understood back then was that Rev3:20 was not for unbelievers, but for believers. I only learned that a couple weeks ago in the Genesis class.


        What do you mean by “giving space to think”? Does it mean giving them enough time to process their thoughts, thus the possibility of a “longer” response time in a conversation? Also, I’m curious about Pastor Chip’s method. Can you share the website/link? Thanks!

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      RJC Academy Facebook Page


      I don’t know that we announced it in our first call, but we have an RJC Academy Facebook page to facilitate more dialogue and interactions with past, current and prospective students. Feel free to visit and post thoughts, questions, exciting bits you have learned etc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/academyrjc

    • 2

      Lani (Japan 102 - Week2)


      Q2: I remember spending a day with my Japanese friend in Tokyo last time. She brought me to various places and we walked a lot. I think I experienced “Haragei” when she would ask me later in the afternoon if there are still other places that I want to see or if I already want to go home. I am good either way so I just told her that it’s up to her and asked her instead if there’s still any place she wants to show me. So she suggested another place, we went there and, after some time, she asked me the same question again. Since we’ve only been friends online for a few months and met her personally for the first time, I wasn’t really sure if she wants to hang out some more or if she already wants to go home so this time I just told her that maybe it’s already time to go home in which she agreed. Looking back, I guess she was being “polite” by not explicitly telling me straight-forward that she already wants to go home.

      • Joze

        Thanks for this. I need hear more of these kinds of stories to get used to it so that I can better identify it when it happens to me later on.

        I wonder, as filipinos, do we have something like this in our culture? I’m either so far removed having not lived in the Philippines for decades, or it’s deeply ingrained that I’m not aware of this. LIke the phrases “nakakahiya” or “hindi na mag pa abala” as expressions of not wanting to inconvenience the other person.


        @Joze – Oh! I didn’t know you are a Filipino. I’m really happy to know! =) Actually, we do, like when someone asks you if you are attending a party or meeting, generally, it’s just so easy for us to say “yes”, maybe because don’t want to offend the other person (nakakahiya tumanggi) or because we don’t want the other person to keep on bothering us. But the bad side is, you already know even at the start that you are not going so it’s basically lying. I was convicted by this when I became a Christian, though.