Week 2: Japanese History April 12-18

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 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:


  • 1

    Week2- Brandalyn


    I am intrigued to learn about the history and continued legacy of Zaibatsu where a few big companies became controllers of much of Japan’s industry. I have been surprised to see company names that I normally associate with transportation companies listed on banks or other businesses in other sectors.

    The close of ch2 touches on something that I have found shocking in Japan – that is the vibrant porn/sex industry. It is surprising to me, given the controlled, proper, professional, respectful demeanor of the Japanese in general. It seems like an out of place bit of cultural dirt. I am curious how this has grown and thrived in this culture. And also why it is so out in the open and much less hidden than I am accustomed to in Canada. You find pornographic material openly out on display in various places in Japan that always catch me by surprise. It seems as though it might not been seen as bad, or dirty or shameful…? Anyone have any more insight into that?

    • Rachel

      Brandalyn: Sadly, I find the information on Japan’s porn & sex industries unsurprising. In the past I think “manga” often meant adult comic books featuring pornographic content. Many men read them openly on trains and buses when I was a child. Nowadays everything is available online. I wonder how many in Japanese churches are entrapped by pornography?

      As they grow up, Japanese people seem to learn the ability to isolate behaviors or develop different personas based on setting — for example they may be professional, respectful and controlled at work, and very different when relaxing over drinks or alone at home. This is true in North America also, but I think perhaps more starkly the case in Nihon.

  • 0

    Facebook Group for RJC Academy


    We touched on it during the call, but if anyone wants to dig further into topics than we are able to here, or connect with other past or prospective students on topics, or propose other topics that we should look into offering in the future etc…. we have the RJC Academy facebook group that you are all welcome to.

    Find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/academyrjc

  • 0

    Joze (Week 2) Reflection


    VIDEO: Firstly, great job, Naoko-sensei, on the video! The pictures you included were so invaluable! And YUM to the samurai burger!

    Questions on the video:
    1. Some of the era names are clear (as location, like Nara, Muromachi and Edo, or emperor name, like Showa, Heisei, Reiwa, or potter like Jomon), but some are not clear to me. What about Yayoi, Kofun, Asuka and Azuchi-Momoyama? Are they places, people or something else? And do they mean anything?

    2. How does the emperor-ship (is that a word) pass from one family to another these days (like Heisei to Reiwa)?

    MacArthur ARTICLES: I would say that MacArthur’s decision to not impose Christianity as a national religion was wise, but I do wonder what could have been the possibilities if Emperor Hirohito, who seems to be revered even to this day with the celebration of his b-day (Showa-no-hi), had become a follower of Jesus and what influence he could have had among the Japanese at the time. However, overall, if MacArthur had made Christianity a national religion in Japan, it would likely have just furthered the cause of Christendom (the Western religion franchise that popularized televangelists and megachurches) rather than raising up disciples of Jesus Christ (whose seed would grow within and accepted by the Japanese people and culture). But then again Japanization might have taken the Western religion franchise and made it better with bigger megachurches. 😉

    UJ Book: It was a better experience for me reading this chapter as the author seemed to be in much better footing in explaining the facts and periods well. And it was good to have a cross-reference of the Japan Guide website to clarify things in my mind.

    As I was reflecting on this history of Japan, although it’s admittedly overwhelming and I still need to relearn and review things, I found that I wasn’t working from a blank slate as I previously thought. Funnily enough, the connection points that help me create a backbone to my understanding of Japanese history were through either travel or movies or board games (ones that I’ve played and own, or ones that I’ve heard about):
    – Yamatai (board game) – I think it’s Queen Himiko on the cover art.
    – Nara (travel) – I only remember the deer that swarm you for their snack.
    – Bushido (movies) – Mostly from Kurasawa’s depiction of samurais.
    – Sekigahara (board game) – This was when I’d first heard about the Tokugawa shogunate and the battle of Sekigahara.
    – Edo (board game) – That it’s the former name of Tokyo.
    – IKI (board game) – A game about artisans in the Nihonbashi district.
    – Nippon (board game) – This where I first learned about zaibatsus and Japanese industrialization.
    – Kanban (board game) – About the efficient method of just-in-time production of cars.
    – Hiroshima (travel) – One of the most impactful sad life moments was seeing the images of the shadows of the victims incinerated by the bomb.
    – Edo-Tokyo Museum (travel) – This was my first entrance into Japanese history and culture. I was fascinated by how the Japanese were able to rebuild after such a devastating loss (i.e. the war, emperor-god, shame)!

    Lesson learned: play more board games! 😉

  • 1

    Takako - week 2 Reflections


    Hello everyone!

    Naoko-sensei, thank you so much for the video. I definitely agree with Joze that pictures and names definitely helps! I’m a visual learner and you made me hungry at the end of the presentation. That’s impressive that you were about to summarize and highlight Japanese history in under 9 minutes! =) I did visit Kinkakuji with mom in 2004… beautiful temple! And the SS Missouri in Oahu with my family. I did not know that General McArthur turned down the offer from Emperor Hirohito to make Japan a Christian nation. Definitely an interesting article.

    What I’ve been praying for this week comes from Operation Japan, page 14. To pray for the emperor and the imperial family. Praying for the few Christian politicians and government workers who might represent Jesus. In October, 2019 Naruhito was proclaimed the next enthronement as the next emperor. The deep rituals and century-old ceremonies were performed at the Imperial Palace. See article below.


    • Rachel

      Hello Takako: Thank you for linking to the CNN piece on Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement in 2019. There are some very ancient and mysterious aspects to the ceremonies surrounding his becoming Emperor. (What was the meaning of the white garments he & Empress Masako wore, I wonder? Traditionally i Japan white garments signify death.) I am reminded to pray for him & his wife, and also for his father Emperor Emeritus Akihito, as well as for the whole Imperial Family.

  • 0

    Rachel -- Week 2


    Wow, what a Speedy Overview of Japan’s history — from AD 300 to post-WW2 in about 13 pages! And the Japan Guide is just as cursory, with a bit different angle in relation to Christianity.

    Throughout Chapter 2 of S. Lee’s book I note the recurring themes of social stratification, group & class obligation, governmental and military control, and bureaucratic machinery. Perhaps these are themes throughout history anywhere in the world, but I can certainly see how a deeper study of Japan’s historical experience will translate into a practical understanding of the Japanese mindset today.

    I found the topic of “Impersonalization” (pgs. 17-18) particularly interesting. (Perhaps the Nihongo terms are “hi jinkaku-teki” or “hi kojin-ka”?) The author’s statement that “political and social developments altered the status of individuals,” (pg. 17) deserves a more involved discussion, Perhaps further chapters will touch on this topic again.

    This week in Operation Japan I read about “Japanese Ministries Abroad” (pg. 41) and “The Church in Japan” (pg. 65). Both types of ministries are have been deeply impacted by the global health crisis this past year. I am reminded to pray continually for the needs of Japan’s churches, as well as for ministries to expat Nihonjin worldwide.

  • 0

    NYTimes and Christian HIstory articles


    The April 7, 1964 New York Times article (in which Billy Graham recounts a conversation with General Douglas MacArthur) and the Christian History article by Darren Lewis (2017) were both very interesting. I am so thankful that Japan was not “made a Christian nation” after WW2. John 4:24 comes to mind — I pray that Japan (and every nation) is filled with those who worship God from their hearts, not because of official edicts or cultural expectations.