culture . ministry

A friend of mine has recently been posting her understanding of Japanese culture and it influences on Christianity and Japanese ministry. She created a series following many of the traditions in the culture that seem entirely foreign and oftentimes create strongholds again developing a faith in Jesus Christ. For example, relationships in Japan between family, coworkers, and others are each treated specifically different. In America, we often act as if we should treat the people around us like close friends. This is not the case in Japan and could be seen as impolite by Japanese people. The author, Katie, is a missionary in Japan with her family. To understand more, read Katie’s blog or peek through these compiled posts, the Japanese Culture Series.

One of this Japan blog's highlights is a deep look at Japanese culture and its effects on travelers, missionaries, and families. This page is basically the table of contents for the many aspects we are finding in Japanese culture and how we can understand them better.

And if you'd like to learn, I suggest RJC's class Japan 101.

Japanese Culture Series

Table of Contents

Inner and Outer Self

Part 1: Honne and Tatemae

To an extent, we all display a form of Honne and Tatemae, yet in Japan, it is an important cultural value. Honne is known as the true inward feelings that a person has, while Tatemae is known as the behavior or opinions that one displays in public to other people. One’s words and true feelings do not always agree. How many times have you been friendly toward someone outwardly when you actually did not care to be around them? This is the careful balance of Honne and Tatemae. Read more...

Relationships in Japan

Part 2: Sempai and Kohai

Often times in America we expect to have what is known as either a vertical or horizontal relationship with other people. In our culture, a relationship between boss and employee would be an instance of vertical, while a relationship between classmates would be considered horizontal. In Japanese culture, a vertical ranking in human relationships has developed to the extent of having a strong seniority system known as Sempai and Kohai. Read more...

Do your best!

Part 3: Gambari

In American history what was known as the “Puritan Work Ethic” prevailed to later help spur the foundations of the Industrial Revolution which led to America’s great economic success. Deep within American culture existed the belief inferred from the Bible that disciplined hard work, ingenuity, and thriftiness would lead to success. In Japanese culture, a similar concept of Gambari came about in the Meiji era which led to modernization as well as a powerful work ethic that eventually led to Japan’s economic superpower status in modern times. Read more...

Feeling Obligated

Part 4: Giri

One of the most distinct differences between Japanese culture and Western culture is the concept of Giri. Giri, known as the social obligation of returning a gift or favor to maintain harmony in relationships, still remains a strong force in daily Japanese life. Read more...

Japanese people are nice

Part 5: Amae

In Japan the concept of Amae, or depending on the benevolence of others, strongly permeates society. This assumption of benevolence and a strong sense of harmony helps to form part of the distinct Japanese culture. Because Japanese people are strongly communal there exists strong bonds as well as certain expectations within certain groups in society. In America, there generally exists a similar sense of benevolence to others, but not to the extent that it impairs our desire to be independent, which is considered a great virtue in our society. However, in Japanese society, the group is vastly more important than the individual. Read more...

Honor and Loyalty

Part 6: Bushido

Perhaps more than any other term, Bushido is most commonly recognized by Americans when it comes to Japanese culture. Bushido or ‘way of the warrior’ has been dramatized by anime, manga, samurai movies, and war history. But what exactly is Bushido characterized as in modern Japan? First, some background...Read more...

Group Thinking

Part 7: Shudan Ishiki

In Japanese thinking, the concept of Shudan Ishiki or “group consciousness” is vitally important to everyday life. Every interaction is closely tied to being aware of what the group thinks and does as opposed individual actions. In other words, in Japan, the group is more important than the individual. Two dominant categories exist in Japanese thinking: the uchi and the soto. Uchi being those inside the group (family and associates) and soto being those outside the group. Read more...

The Art of Gift Giving

Part 8: Zoto

In the United States soon we will be celebrating Christmas, a real occasion for celebration of Christ’s birth often accompanied with the giving of gifts. However, in Japan, Zoto, or the custom of gift giving, strongly prevails in everyday life. On every important occasion, gifts are given in great. Read more...

Resting in Silence

Part 9: Chinmoku

In Japanese culture, a strong emphasis on silence permeates throughout society. The concept of Chinmoku, or silence, has great cultural value in day to day Japanese life. One of the first distinctions a visitor to Japan will notice in comparison with most places in the world will be that Japanese people are generally very careful about how they communicate verbally. This often gives the appearance of low levels of verbal communication wherever people are gathered. Why? Read more...

Japanese Apprenticeship

Part 10: the Do

In Japan, the Do (pronounced ‘dough’) spirit exhibits distinct Japanese cultural values as well as their unique way of learning. Originating from a combination of thought from Ancient Chinese Taoism as well as Zen Buddhism, Do literally means “the way” or way to be followed. The Do spirit follows a distinct pattern as follows: Read more...