News & Stories


Language and Culture Learning in Different Climates

Normally when new OMF workers arrive in Japan, they study Japanese language and culture in Sapporo, northern Japan. But to accommodate a recent influx in new workers, we’ve organised a Japanese language and culture learning hub in the Tokyo area.

We asked two new workers, Ray (Tokyo) and Harry (Sapporo) to compare their experiences in these two places.

Both Ray and Harry have one-to-one classes for about 2.5 hours each weekday. They attend weekly cultural orientation classes and Japanese language churches.

However, Ray goes to a secular language school 4x/week and studies Christian and religious language at the OMF center once a week. All Harry’s classes are at OMF’s own Japanese Language and Culture Center.

For both new workers, most of daily life happens within 20 minutes’ walk or cycle. Stores, parks, and friends are close. But big differences show up when the seasons change.

Summers in Tokyo are hot and humid, making it difficult to study at home without expensive air conditioning. Ray prefers studying in cooler places like libraries and coffee shops. On the other hand, Sapporo winters require extra time for snow shoveling and longer commutes due to snow. Harry mentions that too much snow can be mentally burdensome and can limit outdoor activities apart from skiing/snowboarding.

Both Tokyo and Sapporo offer advantages for new missionaries. Sapporo has a close-knit missionary community and opportunities to learn from churches, while Tokyo provides plenty of cultural learning opportunities through museums and events.

In both places, language and culture learning is tough. Ray says “It’s like looking at a map backward. You have all the information before you, however you are trying to decipher what it says.”

Harry adds, “It’s like climbing a mountain. There are moments when you stop, enjoy the view and the fact that you are in Japan. But there are hard times, too.”

Pray for missionaries in language and culture learning. It is very rewarding, but there are also times of discouragement and difficulty.

[Special thanks to Ray and Harry, OMF missionaries]

Share this post

Get Involved

Have Questions? Send us an email.

To help you serve better, kindly fill all the fields (required). Your query will be routed to the relevant OMF team.

Contact Form

By clicking Submit, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with the terms in our Privacy Policy.

You’re on the OMF International website.
We have a network of centres across the world.
If your country/region is not listed, please select our International website.