Week 2: Japanese History September 13-19

Week 2 Japanese History

Week 2 Video
Article on Emperor and General MacArther
Christ and the remaking of the Orient

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

      • Chapter Two: A Brief History of Japan
      • Japan-Guide. Read any of the historical sections.

Pray:

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

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

    • Reflective Writing
    • Read as many of the other students’ writings as you have time and comment on at least two of them.

Extra Suggestions:

Questions

  • 3

    Paxton: Week 2 Review

    Paxton Blunier

    I really enjoyed reading about the brief history of Japan. It was definitely a lot of information to take in. In the past I have briefly heard about the shoguns and the samurai. It was neat to read more in depth of what that was. I definitely have a better understanding. It was also fascinating to me to know how Shintoism and Buddhism formed in the Japanese culture. When it talked about Catholicism being introduced in Japan but was not accepted.
    During the Tokugawa period when reading about it was fascinating to me, especially when learning about encountering the west and to Catholicism. It interested me that they considered Europe as a threat due to the exposure to Catholicism and that Japan to have the isolation policy. I couldn’t believe it when I read they had implemented this for over 200 years.
    I have heard the term Bushido before but it was interesting knowing from the book that Samuel Lee describes it as, “the ideal of selfless service to one’s lord.” The Meiji time period was very cool to me seeing that it was moving Japan into there modernization. I enjoyed learning the new terminology “Japanization process”. When being with some of my Japanese friends and talking to them about their culture, it is very cool to hear them talk about taking a foreign concept and then adding a part of their Japanese culture in it. I love the creativity and uniqueness that they show in there culture. I have personally learned a lot of that from my Japanese friends. It was interesting to read about the three phases that Japan had to go through shortly after World War 2, “demilitarization, democratization, and rehabilitations”.
    The last paragraph from the book really stuck out to me about how modern Japan is and the negative effects that it is having on the people there. I just keep continuing to pray that God would open the eyes of the Japanese to the truth of who He really is and that God would restore Japanese people back to Himself. May this nation be a witness and testimony to who God really is!!

    • Faith Minter

      Not sure if my first comment on your post went through or not. I am not seeing it actually posted here. So I apologize if this is a duplicate!

      I also had a lot of the same takeaways that you did. It is incredibly interesting reading about the religious history in Japan and all the different periods and adaptations the culture has gone through. Love the term Japanization Process! Think it is incredible how they accept things from new cultures, yet take it and make it there own – often making it better!

    • Bblunier

      Hey Paxton! The affects of modernity of Japan have influenced Japan both positively and negatively. Let’s pray that this will spur believers on to reach them moire!

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Paxton! I am glad you enjoyed the chapter. The book went through Japanese history super briefly, and there is so much more for me to learn, too. Even though it was a brief history, it is good for you to know so that you know where your Japanese friends came from.

  • 6

    Faith: Week Two Reflections

    Faith Minter

    Wow Japanese history is so FULL! I haven’t studied a lot of Japanese history outside of the Edo Period prior to this class. I feel like that period is that one I hear about most often. It was really interesting to hear more about the origins of the culture and the many changes the society as a whole had to go through. Also seeing what they all had to overcome after WWII was incredible. I really admire how resilient and determined the Japanese are.
    What stuck out to me in the book was the Japanization Process that the author mentioned. I love how they accept things from other cultures, make them their own, and often make them better!
    I am praying over the Japanese Christians in Japan this week. Praying steadfastness and confidence over them, and also courage to share their faith with their families! May their families also become believers, and give them that comfort and peace knowing that their families too will be in heaven with them.

    • YollyKezia

      Hi! I totally agree about Japanese being so resilient and determined. In all of the disaster and downs that they’ve been through in history, they still manage to bounce back and be a great nation like now day! I’m amazed!

    • Max Chau

      Yeah I also thought about that too, that Japanese history is soo full, when we compare to like Canada, which only have a few hundreds years of history. I guess we are lucky when it comes to history classes growing up.

    • Naoko Brown

      Faith, thank you for your prayers for the Japanese Christians in Japan. Sometimes it is really tough to be Christian in Japan, and they need your reassuring words and love to keep going!

    • Paxton Blunier

      Hi, Faith!
      I really enjoyed reading what you had to say. I really like the concept like you said of Japanization Process. I have experienced it in the community of Japanese I am around and it is very cool! I’ve never been to Japan yet but I hope to be able to in the next year or two so that I can experience there culture even more! I love seeing your prayers for them and what the Lord brings on your heart.

    • Faith Minter

      Thank you all for your comments and inputs! <3

    • Kmara1222

      Hi Faith, I too wanted to chime in and agree with your perspective on the Japanization of things in Japan! It’s an encouraging perspective, because it means that they can take things and make them more organically their own, which is exactly the way that the gospel seems to have spread and survived over thousands of years right?! It’s very exciting to see what God does with that particular aspect of their culture.
      I think that praying for the Christians in Japan is integral, for them to have that confident hope and to truly believe that their loved ones will be in Heaven with them too. Love it!

  • 4

    Max: Week 2

    Max Chau

    During this reading I’ve learned alot of things from a sociological point of view. Some important points for me were: The term ‘japanization process’ where Japan important something, imparts it with Japanese values and makes it better. This was so true, I forgot that this is what Japan has done for so long, because I was always wondering why Japan is not creating new innovations in the past couple of decades.

    Additionally, I found that the definition of Bushido to be very interesting: “emphasizes the ideal of selfless service to one’s lord, which was manifested by ostentatious self-denial and the avoidance of drinking, gambling, extravagance, overeating and visits to playhouses or brothels. I feel the ‘way of the samurai’ very similar to the ‘way of the Christian’. Our one Lord is Christ and we avoid all those stuff too.

    • YollyKezia

      Hi Max, I have the same thought when I read the Bushido explanation too! more over it’s not just people who do Bushido, but Christ The Lord Himself selflessly died in the cross to fulfill the Father’s will. What an “ultimate Bushido”. Another bridge to share the gospel too.

    • Bblunier

      Hey Max! Yes, the Bushido can have some common ground with Christianity. That could be a great bridge for the gospel.

    • Naoko Brown

      Yah, Max! The similarity between Bushido and walking with Christ is profound. We look forward to the day when many Samurai are serving Christ with all their heart and mind!

    • Faith Minter

      Max the definition of Bushido was also very interesting to me! I am glad that you pulled that out of this last weeks reading. The similarities between the “way of the samurai” and that of the way of a Christian also seem very similar to me. I am intrigued as to how this could potentially impact gospel sharing in Japan.

  • 3

    Yolly: Week 2

    YollyKezia

    I never thought that modern day rate on suicidal in Japan it’s so relates to their culture on Hara-kiri and of course it is a heart-breaking knowledge to know. But again, it shows how deeply their culture has embodied into even this modern society.
    Reading about the persecution of Christian and how the emperor think that missionaries is a spy and threat to them while other religion it’s fine there, makes me wonder what is happening? What makes them think that way? Is it relate to the harsh way of the western people to local just like what we read in last week reading? Is the gospel that they brought it’s too westernized? Then I read the part when General McArthur said that “Japanese culture needed to change”, what kind of changes that they expected to be when Japan culture meets the gospel? I guess it all leads to the question that me myself have no idea on that the actual answer is: about the Gospel, culture, and contextualization. What does it look like when Gospel is transforming a culture?

    • Max Chau

      I remember when I wrote about that period, and here is a sample:
      “Originally, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the emperor at the time, was very accepting of the Christian message brought by the missionaries. However, several years later, he started to question the loyalty of some of his Kirishitan daimyos in the southern region of Japan and blamed the Vatican for this sentiment. Therefore, he banned the practice of Christianity from Japan. This banishment was loosely upheld until 1597, when the famous incident of the 26 martyrs took place in Nagasaki, Japan. ”

      Not sure if it helps, I don’t think I found exactly why he blamed the vatican.

    • Paxton Blunier

      Hi, Yolly!
      I really enjoyed reading your insight and your questions. Good thoughts and things to ponder and think about. When you mentioned how the suicide rate breaks your heart it breaks my heart as well! I keep praying that God would reveal Himself to the Japanese and give them hope in there struggle.

    • Naoko Brown

      Hi, Yolly! There is always a mixing of religion and political power, and Christianity is no exception. We don’t know exactly who to blame about this situation, but Christians were not blameless either, just because we are imperfect humans. These stories remind us of walking close to the Lord and stay humble like Jesus was.

  • 3

    Week 2

    Bblunier

    In this chapter, I learned about the different periods of time in Japanese history. The big thing I took away from this chapter was the fact of how “medieval” Japan has influenced the country’s rapotoure to this day. Many customs and ideologies that influenced Japan in the day are still greatly influencing Japan today, although this influence (Buddhism) has diminished slightly.

    It really burdened me hearing that although Japan has shifted from being a Confusionist/Buddhist nation to more of a secular/western world, the moral values have been reduced because of fleshy material being watched. This shows that Japan might be straying more from the roots of what made Japan “Japan” to a more secular nation very fast.

    • April Buben

      Hi Ben, I definitely agree that it saddens me that Japan is falling closer to being like the US. Being numb to the dark parts of society with the reduction to moral standards. Though there is hope since the country is so open to new beliefs! My prayer is that Japan will open up to Christianity and be a power house for the gospel 🙂

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Ben. Good point! On the one hand, it looks sad that the Japanese have been drifting away from their cultural value, but on the other hand, is it possible that they are more open to the value systems from the outside? It depends on each individual, but discussing this topic may be a good idea with your Japanese friends.

    • nhendradi

      This is really interesting. I think Japan is a complex society. Even though they tend to secularize but at the same time they are religious – in a sense, they don’t go to the shrine or temple everyday but they still believe with local myth, amulet, ghoul and so on. This religious belief is reflected in the movies and anime that is produced and we can see the pattern again and again.

      Japanese people are like adopting two (or more) belief system at the same time. They are secular but also religious. This why Japan is a very unique nation and society.

  • 2

    Week 2

    sgjacobs14

    One of my favorite things to learn about in Asian cultures is how their people abide by Confucianism ideals. When we think of America, we think that people can do or be whatever they want. They have to freedom to move out at an early age, change their name or gender, only having to stop when their imagination does. That isn’t the case in Asia. Children grow up believing their existence is meant to serve their parents’ every wishes and to better society, thus they fall closely behind in their parents ideas. Initially it was a way for the rulers to keep a tighter rule over the people but even centuries later the ideas have stuck.

    I think a good biblical application that might help steer these types of conversations would be to “honor your mother and father”, but explaining the difference between the biblical direction and the way the textbook explains it as “complete loyalty to one’s superior”.

    We are blessed that our great God has mercy for us and that we are his children more than anyone else’s.

    • April Buben

      That’s really cool Sarah! I love how you thought of a way to share the Gospel through something they would already know! I’m not very familiar with Confucianism so it’s been good for me to understand it more while pursuing ministry with the Japanese.

    • Naoko Brown

      Brilliant idea, Sarah!!! It is always good to bring up a scripture, but especially this verse is an excellent one!

  • 2

    April: Week 2

    April Buben

    This week’s reading was interesting to see where Japan’s different culture got started. From the beginning Japan aimed to be the best and it’s stayed engrained in their way of life. It’s sad to see that since they have pretty much outrun us in modernism, the youth of Japan is suffering from loneliness…Japan, though a huge influential country, is also a huge manufacturer of porn along with media. My hope is that one day Japan can be influential in that area but in hope and pointing to God. How cool would it be if Hayao Miyazaki created a film inspired by Jesus??? It would blow people’s minds! I pray that while he is still here on this Earth, someone in his life that’s close to him can share this hope.

    For the History of Japan itself it was a lot to take in, but interesting none the less! I actually wanted to learn more about each era as I read on! I am a fairly avid anime watcher and one that I was reminded of was 7 Samurai. They were leaders in each of their villages and in the anime they were slowly losing their military and regional power. After reading about how influential the Samurai were in those times had me reflect, again, on this history and how it influenced their media.

    Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books about WWII. I remember being told that “America practically rebuilt Japan” but reading it in the articles was very interesting. Though we did influence their rise and guide, Japan sprang back at full force even though it was beat down terribly. (I also thought of the movie Memoirs of a Geisha when she saw the difference from pre-war Japan to post war)

    I also completely agree with what was said about Japan being absorbent to Christianity after the war and even now. That is partially why I feel like now is such a great time to minister to this country! I like that Christianity was not deemed the “main” religion right after the war because then there would be resentment instead of genuine curiosity when it came to the Lord.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about all this history and had to force myself to not read too far ahead! There was so much information I would love to dive further into the history at some point!

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, April! If Japan has become a Christian country after WWII… Probably many people’s apathy and skepticism about religions and gods had grown even more than before. At the same time, there would be more Christians in Japan and more Japanese in heaven today. We can only imagine, but I also think it was good that Christianity was not forced into Japan.

    • nhendradi

      Thank you April for sharing!
      After reading the history of Japan, and also seeing your comment I get excited to rewatch samurai movies I’ve watched, especially Rurouni Kenshin! After having this historical background in Japan, maybe I could understand Japan more from that movie. How interesting!

  • 1

    April: Week 2

    April Buben

    This week’s reading was interesting to see where Japan’s different culture got started. From the beginning Japan aimed to be the best and it’s stayed engrained in their way of life. It’s sad to see that since they have pretty much outrun us in modernism, the youth of Japan is suffering from loneliness…Japan, though a huge influential country, is also a huge manufacturer of porn along with media. My hope is that one day Japan can be influential in that area but in hope and pointing to God. How cool would it be if Hayao Miyazaki created a film inspired by Jesus??? It would blow people’s minds! I pray that while he is still here on this Earth, someone in his life that’s close to him can share this hope.

    For the History of Japan itself it was a lot to take in, but interesting none the less! I actually wanted to learn more about each era as I read on! I am a fairly avid anime watcher and one that I was reminded of was 7 Samurai. They were leaders in each of their villages and in the anime they were slowly losing their military and regional power. After reading about how influential the Samurai were in those times had me reflect, again, on this history and how it influenced their media.

    Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books about WWII. I remember being told that “America practically rebuilt Japan” but reading it in the articles was very interesting. Though we did influence their rise and guide, Japan sprang back at full force even though it was beat down terribly. (I also thought of the movie Memoirs of a Geisha when she saw the difference from pre-war Japan to post war)

    I also completely agree with what was said about Japan being absorbent to Christianity after the war and even now. That is partially why I feel like now is such a great time to minister to this country! I like that Christianity was not deemed the “main” religion right after the war because then there would be resentment instead of genuine curiosity when it came to the Lord.

    • Kmara1222

      Hey April, what an awesome idea, Miyazaki doing a film for Christ?! That would be so impactful, amazing, and not to mention super cool to see. I feel like if Christians could get into the media sources of Japan, that would make an undeniably major change in the society as a whole.
      Also, I couldn’t agree more with your thought about Christianity following the war. My first thought when I read that article about McArthur was the fact that if he’d forced the institution of Christianity, it would’ve been so resented in the long run. Even if Christianity faced its struggles within the culture in the past, I feel like that would’ve made the hurdles even greater.

  • 1

    Nathan Week 2 Reflections

    nhendradi

    There several things that I find interesting from this chapter.

    1. If Japanese history that is believed is true started about 8,000 BC with Jomon Period, it means that japanese history is very much older than the history of Israel that is believed started about 2,000 BC. Amazing! I just wonder, did some of the people who dispersed post-Babylon create a new civilization that eventually formed the Japanese community in Asia?

    2. Along the history of Japan, I saw many times Japanese adopted other foreign culture to improve their own civilization. For example, in Heian Period Japan was influenced by Chinese culture and in Meiji Period, Japan was influenced by West-European. This ‘Japanization Process,’ I think not only bloomed in the Meiji Period, but it has been the true identity of Japan in the very beginning (correct me if I’m wrong). The mindset of ‘to improve and to be better’ have been their true identity. And, interestingly, everytime Japanese culture meets any other culture, their culture never goes away. They modify the foreign culture, even make it better in Japan society. At the core of Japan civilization mindset, I saw Japanese people proud with their culture and nation. Even though they are somehow modernized and westernized, their own culture still at the core of their identity.

    3. In my opinion, Japan is an open country. It is evident by seeing their openness in adopting and learning from other culture. They also open to Buddhism and Confucianism which is come from China. By seeing this fact, they supposedly should also be open to Christianity. But why didn’t it happen? In my opinion, something went different in Japanese people when other civilization or nation came and threatening their culture and identity. As I learn Buddhism, Buddhism teaching never try to force someone to belive in their religion. They believe in ehipassiko (which means just come, see and prove whether the Dharma is true). I didn’t know what was going on in the coming of Christianity in Japan. But I think the colonial mindset (either conscious or unconsciously) are in the heart of Westerners. And it makes me realize that we should approach the Japanese and bring the good news with humbleness.

    • Naoko Brown

      Nathan, I like your statement: the true identity of Japan has been the mindset of to improve and to be better. Also, humbleness is very respected and important when we reach out to them in the Gospel. Overall your insights are very valuable. You can see things Japanese may not be able to see, because you are seeing it from outside with fresh eyes.

  • 1

    Kristen: Week 2 Reflections

    Kmara1222

    Hey everyone, better late than never with my reflections! This chapter struck me as a really great overview, and know each of these historical aspects makes it a little easier to understand Japan as it is today for me.
    There are little things here and there solidified by past historic events that seem to still rear their head today, for example when Naoko san mentioned at some point that the honored perspective of ritual suicide could contribute to the popularity of suicide in modern Japan.
    Similarly, the way that Japan worked hard for industrialization and did whatever it took to be successful, advancing in education and technology, seems to stand strong and true today. It almost feels as though Japan started running a race, hard, and never stopped.
    I also love the way that Japan is so fluid and capable of organically assimilating foreign products, words, etc. by way of Japanization. This gives me hope that the Gospel can flourish organically as well!

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Kristen! Yes, we have hope that the Gospel can flourish organically in Japan!!

  • 1

    Andrew: Week 2

    aepina

    I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to shorten Japan’s history into one chapter. I really enjoyed how this chapter was able to touch on the influx of Buddhism, Confucian, Christian, and Shintoism thought throughout its long history.
    It saddens me to read about the many killings of people during the Tokugawa era in order to get rid of Christianity and to read about modern Japanese influencers and thinkers wanting western-systems though without adopting Christianity. It seems like Japan has been so close to have a breakthrough with Christianity in its history.

    Another characteristic I see in the Japanese history is the intensity of how the Japanese have carried out building cities, innovation, and war. The author characterizes Japan as, “a nation that would be better and more advanced than European nations.” Today we see the “Japanization” of modern technology and other innovations as well.

    • Naoko Brown

      Thank you, Andrew! I agree with your comment: “It seems like Japan has been so close to have a breakthrough with Christianity in its history”. May each one of us be able to contribute to the true breakthrough sometime in the near future!!