Week 6: Japanese Culture and Christian Faith October 12-18

Week 6 Japanese Culture and Christian Faith

Reading:

  • Chapter Eleven: Christianity’s Contribution to Japanese Life
  • Chapter Twelve: Elements of Japanese Culture
  • Chapter Thirteen: Spiritual Culture in Japan
  • How to Share the Good News With Your Japanese Friend by Mark Reasoner Page 1-15

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

  • There is no minimum or maximum amount for this assignment. Use this as an opportunity to reflect and apply what you have read. This is to be written in your comment section of Japan 101.
  • Read as many of the other students’ writings as you have time and comment on at least two of them.

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:

Questions

  • 1

    Week 6- Sarah

    Sarah Moore

    It was encouraging to read chapter 11 and hear how Christianity has had an impact on Japan. Missionaries and native Japanese have established Christian universities and schools which still have influence today. I was also encouraged to hear about the several ministries that help during crises and are also recognized by the government. I am hopeful that through ministries like these and others, many Japanese will see the love of Jesus and want to know Him!

    I knew that in general Asian culture can be very indirect. China is very similar in this area. However after reading the chapters this week, it struck me how much it influences and leads the life of most Japanese. They hide their actual opinions and say yes even if they mean no. The author mentioned that several of these elements of the culture inhibit the growth of Christianity. There is so much focus on not offending anyone or speaking your opinion or “rocking the boat”. This makes me wonder how hard it is to be direct about sharing the gospel, as you are sharing a new and different belief and this might be considered offensive? It may also be considered offensive when you explain the details of the gospel because this would be “selfish” and going against the aimai. I was also intrigued by the “wa”- commitment to the group, or each other’s welfare. Becoming a Christian could be considered abandoning the wa. How can we overcome this? I feel like a lot of these elements of Japanese culture can either be positives or negatives for Christians- the sense of unity and desire to help each other would be good. However, others would not be beneficial and make it difficult to share the gospel directly- such as not saying what you mean or not accepting those on the “outside”.

    The last thing I found interesting was how Japanese still enjoy celebrating Christmas even if they don’t understand it from a Christian perspective. It seems a lot of cultures have adapted this holiday even though they don’t fully understand it. It is mostly focused on the giving and getting of gifts and for businesses to make money. Again, I continue to pray for hearts to be opened to hearing the gospel. I do believe that God can remove barriers in order for all to hear the good news!

    • Naoko Brown

      Often there are misunderstandings between Japanese and Westerners because Japanese do not say no clearly or say yes to keep peace. I can share some of these examples next time on zoom.

      Not only Christmas, but Easter and Halloween are becoming popular as occasions for kids to have fun. Also it is a great money making opportunities for candy and gift companies.

  • 1

    Thoughts from the Reading Wk6 Tym

    Tym Moore

    Reading the latest three chapters was a bit of a roller coaster. It was cool to read about the large influence Christianity has had on Japanese culture despite its low portion of the population. It is a great example of how God can do much with very little.
    Taking a complete turn from that was the chapter on the elements of Japanese culture. Reading this chapter finally made me understand the frustration of many American missionaries in Japan. If I were to try to evangelize to Japanese without this knowledge of their culture, I would definitely feel like my ability to communicate with them would be watered down, not to mention the pre-existing language barrier. All the major elements of their culture seem to focus on keeping harmony in the group, at the expense of truth, personal feelings and genuine relationships. Going off of all this, would it be safe to say that being Japanese is almost their own religion? That “being Japanese” is an idol they have replaced God with?
    In the last chapter, it was interesting to read that Christmas is widely celebrated in Japan, despite the lack of Christians. I could see that time of year being a great opportunity for evangelism, much like it is in the states. A time to simply explain what the holiday is truly about.

    • Naoko Brown

      Tym, that is a very interesting comment; “Being Japanese is almost their own religion.” I have to think about it!! We can say this phrase to other cultures, too, but I understand in case of Japanese, it is more than national pride. Probably there is something very spiritual involved.

  • 1

    Esha: Japan 101: Week 6

    EshaRJC

    When a famous politician visited Mother Terresa, he saw her cleaning a poor sick man’s wounds. “Why do you do this, Mother?”, he asked. “Because the love of Christ compels me”, she answered. I am glad to read chapter 11 and sense the same sentiments. Christians came forward and contributed heavily in the areas of education (especially education for women), women’s rights, social minorities, homeless etc. They also provided services in the post world war II era and in the aftermath of tsunami. We must do this as Christians. If we don’t, then who will?

    I agree with the author that although many concepts in Japanese culture may appear to be unique, they are found in other cultures or at least a hint of them. As for example, saying “no” is difficult in most shame-based cultures, including India. Even the concept of “giri” is not totally unique to Japan. There is however something that strikes me to think deeply (which I do not find in my culture) – that Japanese people consider other people “outsider” even if they have lived in Japan all their lives and speak fluent Japanese. Does someone has experience with this?

    I agree with many cultural aspects the author describes as “strongholds” or detrimental to the Gospel. However, I do not agree with the author that being “direct” is Christian. More often than not, directness stems from pride in the western world. The only “directness” that is Christian is the directness that stems from love for the recipient and that which is void of ego or self-centeredness.

    Mark Reasoner’s book on reaching out to international students is very informative and helpful. I agree with the “friendship first evangelism” for international students and love some of the pointers the author has provided.

    • Naoko Brown

      Esha, great points! I agree with you about “directness”. Being HONEST is Christian, but the word direct can be misleading. I like what you said, “The only “directness” that is Christian is the directness that stems from love for the recipient and that which is void of ego or self-centeredness.” In any case, these indirect communications can be harmful and hurtful for those who are not familiar with it.

      Yes, once Gaijin, you are always Gaijin. But it does not mean they don’t love you. They can be super kind to you, but you cannot be considered as Japanese. Japanese tend to clique into different groups even among Japanese and put a secure wall around them.

      Glad you enjoyed Reasoner’s book!