What can we learn from Japanese pop culture?

When I think about Japanese popular culture, the first word comes to my mind is diversity. It appeals to people from many different ages, backgrounds, and interests.

Does any other nation’s popular culture speak to the wider range of audience?

Culture, both traditional and popular, is something missionaries must pay attention to. However, when people ask me what is the most popular thing in Japan, I often have to admit that I do not know. Or, I dare not say what is the “most” famous and popular.

Recently, there was a very popular anime released in Japan and around the world. It became a hot topic. One day when the theme song of that anime was being sung in a TV programme, my son, who is twelve years old, commented, “This anime has already made a lot of money.”

I asked him “Is it very popular in your school?”

“Yes,” he said.

“What is the theme of the movie?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Would you like to watch it?”


I tried to ask a church member in his 40s about the movie, he agreed that it was very popular, but he did not think he would go to watch it. He couldn’t tell me what exactly what it was about either. Even though is a popular animation, there is no guarantee that people know the content.

However, I noticed that both my son and the church member know Doraemon well. 2020 was Doraemon’s 50th Anniversary—it has been popular for half a decade. Therefore, even those who are in their 60s or 70s know Doraemon. The recent Doraemon movie called Stand by Me 2. Someone said about the movie: “Doraemon is an anime that can make adults cry, and children grow up to be kind.”* I have watched the movie with my son. It is touching, especially when the main character found out why he was given his name and the meaning behind it. It also talks about family relationships, friendship, weakness, and walking alongside one another. These are also messages that I want my son to understand.

So, when we preach the gospel in Japan, we need to consider if we preaching to all generations. We don’t want many people to know about the gospel, like the first movie I mentioned; we want many people to know the gospel well, like the second movie. Are we working to present the gospel, which is for all generations, in such a way that all can understand it?


Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray that pastors and missionaries would work at reaching all generations in Japan.
  • Pray that the gospel wouldn’t become just well known, but understood and believed.

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