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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 9 stakes and districts located within the Japan Kobe Mission. An English-language branch is also located in Kobe. The large area covered by the Kobe Mission is serviced by both the Fukuoka and Tokyo temples.
Like in other areas of Japan, missionaries serving in the Japan Kobe Mission can expect to eat plenty of rice, miso soup, and seafood dishes. Tofu and seaweed are also common components in meals. Kobe is famous for its Kobe beef, which is known worldwide for its high quality texture and flavor. Popular dishes incorporating Kobe beef include shabu shabu (thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in boiling water then eaten with dipping sauce) and steak.
Missionaries serving in the Japan Kobe Mission can expect to spend a lot of time traveling by bicycle! Trains are the most common form of public transportation in Japan, and the Greater Osaka area has several types of trains that are used for travel, including trams, electric trains, and the famous bullet train. Taxi and bus systems are also present to complement the rail lines.
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.
The Kansai region of Japan has its own distinct dialect which varies somewhat from standard Japanese. This includes some variations in pronunciation and pitch, as well as replacing the suffix -nai with the suffix -hen in the negative form of verbs. A more detailed list of differences can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansai_dialect
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.
Kobe has many interesting areas to visit, such as the historical Kitano district and the Ikuta Shrine. This Shinto shrine is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan, and Noh plays are performed near the shrine during Ikuta’s Autumn Festival.
Osaka is also home to several interesting sites, such as the Osaka Castle and several amusement parks, museums, shrines, and parks.
Osaka and Kobe are also famous for their shopping districts.
The Zinkes’ Mission blog – http://zinkesinjapan.wordpress.com
Japan Kobe Mission blog – http://preachinghisgospel.wordpress.com
Facebook groups – “Japan Kobe Mission” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/3590303088/
“Japan Kobe Mission (Zinke)” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/296161157087580/
Straight from the Japan Kobe Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Mexican food, cold cereals, good milk, certain candies, root beer”
“Cheddar cheese, lasagna noodles, really anything American”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Noodles, rice and potatoes”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“A raw quail egg over really slimy seaweed”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Most homes has no chairs. The politeness of the people”
“The fact that they would swear in English and continue their conversation in Japanese.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Japan Kobe Mission?
“Prepare spiritually, it is not your ability to to speak the language that converts, it is the spirit.”
“Cherish every moment. There is no other time that you will be able to devote yourself entirely to the Lord. Don’t wish away one minute because it will be over before you know it.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The above advice…prepare spiritually, the other stuff will all work out.”
“How isolating the mission would be because we only had 2 zone conferences in the entire 18 months I was there (due to the cost of travel).”
“I loved my mission and still think and talk about it often”
“Serving a mission was the best choice I ever made. It has led me to all of the other great things I have in my life. I will always encourage young ladies to serve because of how it changes your life!”
**Did you serve in the Japan Kobe Mission? If so we could love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**