Our God, Eager to Save

Posted January 10, 2010

Tomohisa had reached a coveted status in Japan’s vertically-ordered society: medical doctor. Along with the status came wealth, which he used to buy the affection of women…and lots of booze. His selfishness blinded... [Read More]

The Humbled Tsunami

Posted December 2, 2011

When the warning sirens went off, residents in a south Sendai neighborhood fled to the local school. Together with panicked children still in class they climbed to the rooftop. Some 600 altogether... [Read More]

Japanese Get "Bach" Hope

Posted September 21, 2011

Who would have thought Bach would be involved in 21st century mission work in Japan? I have frequently read with interest of the strong connection between classical music (particularly J.S. Bach) and Japanese interest... [Read More]

Tsunami Ground Zero

Posted April 7, 2011

I still haven't returned from tsunami ground zero. That is to say, although I've been back several days already, the reality of the scene is still with me. The incredible amounts of mud in once beautiful homes... [Read More]

"Nice Try, Kevin" File

Posted February 9, 2011

This one goes into the "Nice try, Kevin" file. I just thought it was a nice-looking bunch of flowers in the storefront and, on the spur of the moment, decided Kaori deserved to enjoy them. Chrysanthemums, however, are... [Read More]

The Gulliver Complex

Posted November 9, 2007

I'm a giant again. Well, not really. But it sure feels like it again since returning from the States. The first sign was bumping my head in the shuttle bus from the airport. By habit, I normally duck my head through any... [Read More]

Foreigners Don't Get the Point

Posted January 31, 2010

I'm standing in line at a drugstore with other shoppers. The woman in front of me has just pulled out a business card file. Hurriedly she flips through at least a hundred or more cards searching for the right one. It's a... [Read More]

More Powerful than Bombs

Posted July 5, 2008

Fuchida grew up loving his native Japan and hating the United States, which treated Asian immigrants harshly in the first half of the twentieth century. Fuchida attended a military academy, joined Japan's... [Read More]

Ready?

Posted September 14, 2010

I'd been putting it off. Although I knew it was important, taking inventory of our earthquake and disaster gear just wasn't getting done. Japan rests along the "ring of fire" in the Pacific ocean, a stretch of area that is... [Read More]

150 Years Later

Posted March 17, 2009

This spring marks the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. The first protestant missionaries set foot in the port of Yokohama back in 1859. Now they were real church planters -- overcoming all... [Read More]

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I for Japan. Japan for the World. The World for Christ. And All for the Glory of God.

— Kanzo Uchimura, Japanese Evangelist

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Rambling Notes from Japan

Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.

Japanese Trash Can Wisdom

I could write reams of blog entries on the humorous and often incongruous ways English is used in Japan. It is delightful to find these nuggets tucked away here and there in our neighborhood. It may just be my dry sense of humor, but they make me smile. Often just when I need a smile. Like the day last week when I sat down at a restaurant table upon which a sign had been placed: "NO SMORKING." It's a good thing I don't smork. The sign was all the more amusing to me because it was not hastily handwritten. It was an engraved plastic professional-looking sign. Glancing at the other tables around me, I noticed smorking was not allowed there either.

This afternoon while buying lunch at the boxed lunch shop, I went to throw away an item and found that the garbage can was full...of philosophical advice (Photo above). I don't typically think of reviewing my life before pitching something. Was the garbage can suggesting that some people are throwing away more important things...their own lives? For the Japanese eye, this type of thing is just ornamental design. No one actually reads it. For this English-speaking foreigner, however, it is makes one do a double-take to see the way that English is used.

Another example that made me do a double-take this past week was this restroom sign. No English was used in this case, but it might have been helpful. I have gotten fairly adept at the various and sundry ways that a public restroom is referred to in Japanese. I've also seen many interesting English versions in Japan: "Resting Room", "Hand Washing Room." Sometimes I confess that I am a bit bewildered altogether and simply stand back to observe which gender enters which room.

This sign was also a new one to me. It appears that this might be a restroom for pregnant men only? Perhaps I am easily confused. But what made it more confounding to me was that the women's restroom had a picture of what looked to me to be more of a man than a woman. Again, I step back in these cases and observe before proceeding. This action has spared me embarrassment in numerous cultural situations. More examples in the spirit of fun to come.


Thinking Green

The cost of gas these days seems to be on everyone's minds. It puts a pinch in our home assignment budget as well as the miles we travel cost more. People are talking about the need to invent new environmentally-conscious sources of energy to power our vehicles. It seems the Japanese have already discovered that ultimate "green" machine!

I came across this car in our Kawasaki neighborhood some time ago. I'm posting it here as proof that Japanese cars really can be better for the environment. Just look at the way nature has taken to this car! If anyone has an idea as to its make and model let me know or post your guess.


Reverse Culture Shock?

Some lists during our Stateside stay:

Pleasant surprises:
* Being able to get out of either side when parked
* Understanding 100% of a radio or TV program
* Grass (lots of it, in front of almost every house!)
* Trees (with beautiful colored leaves to boot)
* Banana cream pie
* Clothing sizes that fit
* Parking in front of a store, instead of on top

Oddities:
* Self-checkout at the grocery store (when did that start?)
* Machines are strangely quiet (nearly everything from the gas pump to the escalator talks to you in Japan)
* Drink sizes, serving sizes and people are strangely large (possible correlation here)
* Foods are incredibly sweet, salty or fatty (much more so than I seem to remember)
* No bicycles or motopeds on the streets!
* Television programming increasingly unfit for most human life
* Thousands of choices for just about everything

Caught myself doing:
* Saying sorry to someone I bumped into...in Japanese by mistake (that got me an odd look)
* Standing in front of a store waiting for the door to open (Japan is the land of automatic doors)
* Getting in the front passenger seat and preparing to drive...and wondering why the steering wheel was gone (its on the right in Japan)
* Driving on the wrong side of the road (just briefly, mind you)
* Gaping at the aisles of cereal and snacks
* Wondering why US currency suddenly looks like monopoly money


Park Stuff Here

Every once in a while Japanese English goes a little wrong and makes one smile. There are other examples of this on our blog, but one of my personal favorites is this. Kaori would be quick to point out my own bloopers in Japanese have been significantly worse, and no doubt very funny. Yet, Japanese are so polite and courteous as not to laugh.

It doesn't take long to accumulate stuff in life, but getting rid of it in Japan is not easy. You can't throw it away without paying extra fees, or breaking it down into its component pieces: plastic, glass, metal, etc. And you can rarely sell it. Having a place to park unwanted stuff would be nice.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a place like this to park the stuff of life, the baggage that weighs us down. But wait! That's what Christ came to do! No need to pay extra! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. In other words, Jesus says to us, "Park your stuff here! On me! Your hurts and pains and sorrow. I'll take them all without cost. Then give you blessed freedom and peace in their place."


Dog Days of Summer

And the dog goes to church too! That's right! Every week we have at least one doggie guest in our worship service. Here in the photo one of our youth holds two regular members. They are remarkably well behaved. Occassionally they will join the singing, but mostly you wouldn't know they are there.

Japanese people love their small dogs. Pets are pampered quite well in Japan. Occassionally I will pass a young couple on the street pushing a stroller. One might expect to see a cute baby inside, but many times it is a pup that's getting the pushing! Yes, even dogs get their own transportation in Japan.


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We serve with WorldVenture, an evangelical faith mission. Our sending/home church is Cornerstone Church of Lansing, Illinois.
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