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Snapshot of Japan – Japanese is the primary language of Japan, though many modern schools require students to take classes in English as well. Japan is a largely non-religious country, with many people claiming no religious affiliation whatsoever. The majority of those that are religious practice a mix of Buddhism and Shintoism. Most Japanese people participate in a variety of Shinto and Buddhist rituals, regardless of how actively religious they are – for example, most Japanese funerals follow Buddhist traditions and are performed by Buddhist priests. Japan has a very unique culture, as manifested in traditional paintings, sculptures, woodblock prints, and architecture. In modern pop culture, video games, manga, and anime are all extremely popular. Performing karaoke is also quite popular. Japan’s national sport is sumo, though the martial art forms of karate, kendo, and judo are also widely practiced. Baseball is one of Japan’s most popular sports, though soccer also has a following. Rice is the staple food of Japan and is served with almost every meal. Miso soup is also served with most meals. Seafood and tofu are regular parts of meals as well, though other types of meats can also be used. In Japan, chopsticks are used to eat, and it is considered rude if you do not finish all the food you are given.
There are 8 stakes and districts located in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. There are also some military branches located on the island of Okinawa. The Fukuoka Japan temple was dedicated in 2000 and serves most of the area.
Like in other areas of Japan, missionaries serving in the Japan Fukuoka Mission can expect to eat plenty of rice, miso soup, and seafood dishes. Tofu and seaweed are also common components in meals, especially in Okinawa. The Okinawa diet is distinct in its higher use of sweet potato and low consumption of meat and dairy products. Fukuoka also has its own unique dishes, such as Hakata ramen, and motsunabe (a stew made with pork or beef).
Missionaries serving in the Japan Fukuoka Mission will spend a lot of time riding bikes! Fukuoka also has multiple subway lines that serve as the primary form of public transportation. High-speed trains are commonly used when traveling greater distances. Air travel is necessary for transfers to the island of Okinawa.
Japan has low crime rates, however, the area is prone to frequent earthquakes. When an earthquake occurs, you should get under a table or other sturdy piece of furniture and hang on until the shaking stops. If shelter is not available, it is best to crouch down on the ground and do your best to protect your head and neck. More information on earthquake preparedness is available at http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes.
Bowing is the traditional form of greeting in Japan, though church members generally greet each other with a handshake. Men bow with their hands at their sides, while women bow with their hands in front. Deeper bows are reserved for people of great importance, or for apologies. When greeting a friend, a bow of about 30 degrees is the norm.
It’s a good idea to bring slip-on shoes instead of shoes with laces, since it is the general custom in Japan to remove your shoes upon entering someone’s home.
Fukuoka has a wide variety of attractions. Popular tourist sites include the Marine Park Uminonakamichi (which features an aquarium and amusement park) and the Fukuoka Tower. The city also has several museums. The Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival has been held in Fukuoka for over 700 years; the two-week festival features many special events leading up to a traditional float race held at the end of the festival period.
Facebook Group “Fukuoka Japan Mission: Isn’t it about time?” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2212970575/
Straight from the Japan Fukuoka Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
*What did you eat the most of?
“Tossup between spaghetti and curry rice.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“I once ate bear meat out of a can that was offered by an investigator.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Get out among the people and practice hearing and speaking the language, no matter how embarrassed you are. You will never train your brain without hundreds of hours of exposure.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Japan Fukuoka Mission?
“To rely more on the Lord to guide me to people who were ready to listen to the Gospel, rather than think I could talk someone into accepting the Gospel. At least half the people I ended up baptizing just walked into the church building.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Concentrate on learning about each of the members in the place where you teach, and understand their lives and look for ways to help them personally. When you are a more loving person, your potential investigators will sense that and be more willing to consider your message.”
**Did you serve in the Japan Fukuoka Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**