Week 5: Cultural Concepts: Bushido, Do, Gambari October 11-17


  • Ch. 5, Pg 41-50 “The Way of the Warrior,” Bushido 武士道
  • Ch. 8, Pg 71-82 “The Do Spirit of Japan,” Do 道
  • Ch. 9, Pg 83-94 “Japanese Patience and Determination,” Gambari 頑張り





Weekly Paper: “Impressions and Points from Your Reading”

  • 1.Discuss how can you see the concepts of Bushido being of benefit to Japanese in accepting and living out the gospel, being a stumbling block, and how could this concept be worked into discipleship.
  • 2. The notions of simplicity, perfection, discipline, and harmony with nature are central to both Zen Buddhism and the aesthetic and martial arts of Japan, as reflected in the spirit of dō. Do you see the concepts being compatible or even beneficial to believers and Christian church culture in Japan? How could these notions be retained and utilized without encouraging syncretism?
  • 3. In the Japanese martial arts, teaching is kept simple, inflexible, and strictly controlled and involves imitating a master rather than providing detailed and analytical verbal explanations: ‘ How prominently do you see this model of discipleship within the Japanese church and Christian community? How much more or less prominent do you think that it should be? Why?
  • 4. With regard to Gambaru, “Japanese tend to think that having free time is wasteful, even shameful, and feel uneasy.” (Amanuma). And sometimes gambari can lead to Kaorishi (death from overwork).” How does the concept of Gambaru in this light potentially impact Japanese believers’ perspectives and expressions of gospel concepts such as: accepting the free gift of God’s salvation, loving our neighbor (even if he hasn’t earned it), salvation by faith vs. works, Christ working through us v. us working from our own skill, and sabbath rest?
  • 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:

  • 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

    Joze (Week 5) Reflection


    1. The concept of following a “way” is very biblical. Abraham and his descendants were to teach their family the “Way of YHWH” which is to do “righteousness and justice” (Gen.18). Much later Paul writes for others to “follow him as he follows the Messiah” (1 Cor.11), or to “be imitators of God” and to “walk in love” (Eph. 5). Inasmuch as these are not a way into the Kingdom of God, they are vital indicators of how to be a part of the Kingdom of God. So, in order for the concepts of Bushido to not become stumbling blocks, it’s important to teach that it is not how to get in, but how to be when you’re in.

    2. On the surface so far, these are all good values to have in life, Christian or not. IMO, these values indicate a realism and a respect for nature that many who live in concrete jungles and safe geographical environments may have lost over generations. The only thing to be careful of is not to lose sight that there is one God who is over all these created things in nature and to recognize and honour Him more than creation itself.

    On a side note, I watched an episode of Japanology Plus that talked about the yokai (lesser spiritual beings derived from things around us). I wonder how the Japanese respect for nature and its spiritual inhabitants can be contextualized by passages like Genesis 1 or Genesis 6 that talk about how God created all things and is more powerful than these things and spiritual beings.

    3. Don’t know yet, but from limited exposure, it seems to follow a Western model: Bible study, potlucks, serving on Sundays, coffees on weekdays. Not sure how much “simple, inflexible and strictly controlled” forms are involved.

    4. In general, I think gambaru is a good value to have in moderation. In light of how the question is posed, the value does not have to be in contradistinction to “the free gift of salvation.” The concept of faith-vs-works is a false dichotomy, they are important biblical concepts that should not be pitted against each other. In the Bible, the Jews would never have imagined works to be the way to be in right relationship with YHWH. In their formative narrative in Exodus, salvation from injustice and slavery came FIRST, but then in Exodus 19 when God was giving them the massive responsibility of being his treasured possession who would represent the name of YHWH to the nations around them, they had to be and to behave like a distinct group of people.

    When followers of Jesus recognize that salvation comes first, then gambaru becomes an important value to live out of what Paul would call working “out your salvation” with reverence and seriousness. Now that we are part of God’s kingdom, we now represent his name to others around us and we are to become a certain type of people.

    On the other hand, as the reading indicates that the Japanese are beginning to implement 2-day weekends, it would be good to teach the practice of Sabbath that gives people rest and that is meant to remind us of the ultimate worker and our great provider.

  • 0



    There are many concepts in bushido that are Christian values such as honor, loyalty, high ethical standards, compassion and love, self control, discipline. These would be good things to point out in the Bible. But one can never live up completely to these standards. I would think a discussion on how a person might fail at this and how do they handle falling short of these standards? The gospel of grace certainly is the answer to this. Helping them to understand grace would be important. Also, it seems there is so much emphasis on doing that being is something do be discussed. Also, maybe a gradual understanding on the significance of emotions is important.

  • 0



    I think that the notions of simplicity and discipline are biblical concepts. Perfection is what we fall short of and thus the need for the gospel however, we should always strive to be the best we can be. I love the idea of the simplicity, perfection and discipline of the tea ceremony. I think this seems to value each element of the ceremony and help one to stop and slowly appreciate in a fuller way. I attended a tea ceremony and was bored. In hindsight, I wish I had understood it so I would have had a fuller experience. Harmony with nature is not a biblical concept. We are not to worship nature but God created nature to point us to Himself. Maybe I could ask what they mean by “harmony with nature” and then share the biblical concept of creation and the Creator.

  • 0



    I don’t have enough experience to answer

  • 0

    Jim's Comments

    Jim Woo

    I was fortunate enough to attend Pastor Nakanishi’s Bushido Webinar when it was broadcast. Back then, I marveled at the similarities between the fruits of the Spirit and some of the attributes of Bushido. I was intrigued and thought this would be a good way to learn more about the Japanese mind. So then I went through the Bushido book by Inazo Nitobe. But I discovered that though the elements are there, as Pastor Nakanishi stated (which I caught on the second time through), the Japanese don’t really think Bushido is applicable. My Japanese friends also point out fruits of the Spirit in me, but I think they assume it is me and not coming from elsewhere.
    I’ve recently begun using harmony in my discussions with my friends, especially since they see the hatred and anger in America. Hopefully I can be a witness to the way Christians ought to behave.
    I think the controlled method of teaching used in the martial arts is also used in other parts of Japanese education. I can see some of it in the way we start new material for English learners. Presumably this provides them the structure to follow. However, as they progress in the understanding of the material, we teachers begin asking about daily life as practice for the different forms. Since this is no longer a mechanical exercise, the students enjoy this part about getting to know other students. So I conclude that some freedom of thought and sharing is something humans desire.
    I think ganbari makes the concept of a free gift difficult. As Anne pointed out last week, there would be a built-in obligation to somehow return salvation to God. While there is karoushi, it seems that the Japanese also value time away from work. There’s usually a lot of travel going on during Golden Week. Perhaps they feel ganbari is also needed for play?