Heather spent 4 months in Tokyo serving in a media & communications role. The excerpts below are taken from her first and last newsletter written during her short-term trip. From summer to winter, follow her journey of cultural experiences and learning in our #HelloHeather series!
I recently went to a local clothes shop to purchase a yukata. Like a kimono in style it is much more lightweight and designed to be worn during the summer months. If you go out in Tokyo on a summer evening you will undoubtedly see a group of young friends dressed up in yukata or jinbei (the male version) on their way to a summer festival.
With my colleague Megumi translating, the women in the shop offered to dress me up in a yukata, so I would know how to put on the one I was buying. Within minutes, I had been dressed and my hair had been carefully brushed and put up! However, the speed with which I had been dressed was only down to their highly skilled & experienced hands. There are many important stages to putting on the yukata, including the careful positioning of the panels of fabric as you wrap it around you, where to place the 3 different belts and then finally the obi- the sash which is tied in a large bow at the back.
Thankfully because of their kindness in giving me this tutorial, and with a little help from YouTube, that Sunday I was able to dress myself in my beautiful new yukata to attend a baptism service at a church in central Tokyo.
That same afternoon I went to New Hope Church where they were celebrating “Aloha Sunday” with hula and hip hop dancing! The final stop was a summer festival in Harajuku, then dinner with more new friends.
It seems Sunday is the social highlight of the week in Tokyo!
The Japanese Church
On Sunday as we were singing in church I looked around and saw many Japanese Christians crying as the song spoke to them and they were touched by the Holy Spirit. I was struck by the significance of this show of emotion in a country where crying in public simply doesn’t happen under normal circumstances.
It also struck me that many of the Christians in that service would likely be leaving for another normal week where nobody else shares their faith- family, friends, colleagues, neighbours. In fact, most of those people won’t even have heard of Jesus before.
Something which helped me to understand just how few Japanese have heard the gospel was the fact that in Japan Christmas is a couple’s holiday. It is celebrated much like Valentine’s Day is here, and this is reflected everywhere around the city in the heart shaped Christmas lights, cards & gifts.
Two Sides of Japan
During my time in Japan I have discovered so many things about a country that previously I really knew very little about. I have developed a great love for this country, its people and culture. In the West we know Japan as an economically prosperous and technologically advanced country but there are so many ways in which it needs our prayer.
Will You Pray for Japan?
- More Japanese people to hear of Jesus Christ, and to put their trust in Him.
- Japanese Christians to stand out and remain strong and rooted in their faith, in the firm knowledge that He who began a good work in them will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).
- The strengthening of the small but growing number of Japanese churches, that they may shine light and hope for their communities around them.