Japan Trip March 2015
Aven and I were privileged to go to Japan for 11 days over the Easter holiday. We enjoyed delicious food like ramen, sushi, squid and rice dishes; to name a few.Experienced a culture so very different to our own, and got to see and participate in many unique activities and we thank God for all of this. We started our trip in Tokyo which is just a gigantic metropolis with millions of people wearing business suits and face masks, hurrying along with their daily routine. To give you an idea of the sheer size of this city; 36 million residents! That’s 50% bigger than the world’s second biggest metropolis. The population size is not the only impressive thing. There is an energy and buzz around this place. From the massive glowing billboards in Shibuya, to the 7 story arcades and electronic stores in Akihabara. Tokyo also hosts the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection, imagine THOUSANDS of people crossing the street from all directions at the same time, well we saw it with our own eyes, crazy! Tokyo is also home to the world’s busiest train station, Shinjuku station has a whopping 35 platforms, 200 exits and transports around 3 million people A DAY! And it doesn’t end there. On the corner of every pavement is a set of stairs going down to a train station. Go down these stairs and you walk into massive underground malls with restaurants, department stores and underground streets. There is literally a city under the city. This friends is a big place. Yet surprisingly everything is super efficient, incredibly clean and extremely safe. People park on the side of the road and leave their cars idling while they go do their shopping. On top of that people are courteous, polite and always end off their conversations with a smile and a bow.
I said so much about Tokyo but we did see other parts of Japan too. Hiroshima as we know is where the Nuclear bomb fell, ending World War 2. We got to go to the memorial park and the atomic bomb museum. It was a deeply emotional experience and we learnt so much about the cost of war. There is a story of one girl who suffered from radiation poisoning and died 10 years after the bomb. She believed that if she made 1000 paper cranes she would have a wish granted. She made the cranes, wished for health, but died shortly after that. Because of that story, the crane has become the symbol for hope and peace in Hiroshima, I also believe God used it to stir in us a passion for Japan. 1 Timothy 4:10 “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe”.
After Hiroshima we went to Kyoto, the previous capital and centre for traditional Japanese culture. It is a beautiful city, especially during cherry blossom season. The city is also full of Buddhist and Shinto shrines. You cannot walk 100 meters without seeing a temple or shrine of some sort, they are literally everywhere. Shinto worships the forces of nature, polytheism and animism, whereas Buddhism is all about following an ethical code of conduct in one’s life, practicing meditation and renunciation. For Japanese people, its more than a religion, it is a way of life. It is a complete worldview, intertwined with their arts, culture, literature, lifestyle, history and heritage.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14
After Kyoto we hiked the Nakasendo trail giving us a little taste of Japan’s natural beauty. On our way we saw multiple signs warning hikers against bears…yikes! We stayed in a old postal town called Magome, very pretty and so far removed from the jolly madness of Tokyo.
Our last 2 days was in a town called Nikko, another fascinating place filled with shrines and temples. It is here that I looked like a complete idiot attempting ninja training and Japanese sword fighting. It’s a lot more difficult than in the Kung Fu movies 🙂
All in all we had a great experience but this article is not simply meant to be a travel guide. Looking at a country like Japan where Christianity is less than 1% I cannot help feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow. The thousands of people we passed by…where will they spend eternity? Those 36 Million residents in Tokyo? Those 127 Million citizens across the country? After thinking about it for some time there are three ways in which people can respond:
- God must not be good…yes you heard correctly! Some would argue: How could a loving God send millions of people to hell? They don’t know any better! God must either not be real or the Bible must be wrong.
- All religions lead to salvation. Just look at the devotion, discipline and morality of religious people. How can you say this is wrong? Christians are nothing more than bigots, claiming they have the only truth.
- In the words of Isaiah the prophet: “Here I am, send me”. I am aware that not everyone is called to be a missionary in Japan yet I trust that along with me you believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, and that no-one comes to the Father but through Him. There is no other name by which men, women and children can be saved but the name of Jesus. So many are trapped by deceptive lies and us Christians have the truth that can set them free.
Could I ask that you pray for the country of Japan? Maybe even try to connect with a missionary who is serving there. Maybe even go there yourself! They will not believe, unless they hear, and they will not hear unless someone goes. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send labourers to Japan.