Week 5: Cultural Concepts May 18-24


  • 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. 17, Pg 143-152 “The Japanese Virtue of Modesty,” Kenkyo 謙虚
  • Ch. 9, Pg 83-94 “Japanese Patience and Determination,” Gambari 頑張り



RJC Video of Jack and Keiko Marshall’s message at the 2011 International RJC Conference.


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

  • 1. Interact with the discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
  • 2. Discuss how these cultural characteristics might affect your ministry with Japanese people.


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

Extra Suggestions:



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    Emily's Notes on Cultural Concepts

    Emily Frey

    Its so interesting reading about how the Japanese view the mind itself. It almost seems as if mindfulness and thinking is an overwhelming burden in life. Zen Buddhism beliefs encourage the emptying of one’s mind for spiritual “enlightenment…a liberation from man’s intellectual nature, from the burden of fixed ideas and feelings about reality.” This seems to the Westerner a rejection of absolute Truth, and that all thinking is either futile or uncontrollably hostile. Knowing one’s inner self deeper and deeper, “to become conscious of the Unconscious”, and “experiencing one’s own body in order to discover truth”, all assume Truth comes from inside of us. I think there are two ways as Believers that we can contextualize some of these beliefs to share the Gospel with those who strongly hold this worldview.

    First, looking deeper into ourselves spiritually is not generally a wrong or bad thing. We Westerners do it often, especially Christians when we “Gospel” ourselves or counsel others from our own flesh-filled wisdom. So, Believers are not above reproach in these ways, but it does look a little different and Americans would conceptually justify it differently (but we are doing the same thing, more or less). We must always beware of starting with ourselves when looking for Truth, even in searching Scripture to meet our needs, because deductive study has its own set of syncretisms. Only when looking inside points us back out, towards God’s Word and life in Christ, can it be fruitful. Only God has the power, wisdom, and control to search my heart and know it, and send the Holy Spirit to convict of sin or reveal mysteries. I find I must be very careful to acknowledge any revelations about myself that do not again point me back to Christ’s power in my life. The more I explore Eastern spiritual disciplines like the Enneagram, meditation, and certain kinds of prayer, this becomes more evident to me. As a Believer, I must be aware of the warning signs of temptation and be prepared to run. Yet, I have had many times God use some of these worldly tools and wisdom for good in doing just the things I have mentioned—reveal my heart, point back to Christ’s work on the cross and from the grave, and send my heart thirsty for more Truth from His Word.

    Second, as Believers filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot ignore that we alone have the power Jesus left to us. In that power, we can look inside of ourselves as “temples” of the Living God for great mysteries to be revealed and Truth to share with others. However, that power and knowledge is not for ourselves, to puff up or wield as maybe a sensei would, but it is for the Church. So that we might share boldly with those who do not know and find our place in a functional Body to encourage and equip.

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    Week 5 reflections

    Linda Grimms

    This week’s grouping of cultural concepts sought to explain some of the qualities of that I have often associated with Japanese people. As a people, their worldview seems informed by their stalwart loyalty, discipline, modesty, and determination. All of these qualities can also be found among Christians as we walk in the way of Jesus. I would love to do a biblical study that looks for the ways that Scripture can bring light to these same Japanese qualities in ways that might spark interesting conversations with our Japanese acquaintances, looking for the bridges to show how following Jesus is the better way – the only way, the truth and the life.

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    Week 5


    I really liked chapter focusing on gambari as it revealed many unanswered questions about the Japanese workforce and the employees. I see it as a double-edged sword where it can definitely be a great thing but also a bad thing. Perhaps this is my own opinion but there is no balance of gambari in Japan as it is here in the United States.

    I think everyone should always work hard no matter what country you’re in but I feel if work is all you do and there is no available time for yourself to enjoy life, it can definitely be a negative thing. This can go so many ways as I understand some people love what they do but in Japan, I now understand why employees are always overworking and never have time do anything. It also shows why marriages and start families are in decline.

    When I was talking to my friend in Saitama about gambari, she said this was a positive word. She always applies this to everything that she does as the book highlights. But the chapter also says that gambari might be in decline which can be a good way to balance a life outside of work. It did mention that the younger generation has become a bit lazy and that can be a dangerous thing too.

    I hate to use this phrase but I’ve heard people my age or younger say, “Work hard, play hard” meaning work hard in your job but also enjoy your life just as much. I hope Japan continues to thrive to have a work and life balance to where everyone can be happy in both environments.