View Larger Map
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 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.
Japan contains six missions with over 280 congregations.
The first mission opened in Japan in 1901 and it was the first mission in Asia, it was discontinued because of an earthquake, but was reopened in 1948.
A temple in Sapporo was announced to be built in 2009 and has an expected completion date of 2016.
Sapporo is known for its miso ramen, which is a ramen noodle with miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning. Soup curry with vegetables and chicken is a popular dish in Sapporo. A lamb barbecue dish is also a local favorite.
Fish is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is incorporated in many meals. Some common seafood is salmon, sea urchin and crab. Fish is often grilled, but it may be served raw or in sushi.
Rice is also a large staple in the Japanese diet and side dishes include vegetables and fish.
They city of Sapporo has a subway and a tram that is accessible to missionaries. There are also buses available for city transportation. Much of the mission is spent walking.
Sapporo is generally a safe city and the largest safety concern is petty theft. To prevent this, missionaries should pay close attention to their belongings.
Natural disasters can also be a safety concern in Japan, including earthquakes, tsunami and radiation. However, missionaries can listen to their mission presidents for instructions on how to proceed in dangerous weather.
When entering the house,
missionaries should take off their shoes at the door and put on the slippers provided by the hosts. Before entering any room with tatami mats, they should take off the slippers and carry on in their bare feet or socks. Etiquette is extremely important in Japan and hosts will be grateful for effort by guests.
“O genki desu ka?”–How are you?
“Hajimemashite.”–Pleased to meet you.
“Ohayo gozaimasu”–Good mornin
Japanese weather is generally temperate with four distinct climates. Since the weather ranges from warm to cold, it is important to bring clothes that layer easily.
Good walking shoes are a must and should be comfortable for long days of tracting. A cross-body is a good idea to carry belongings around town.
Straight from the Japan Sapporo Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Quaker oats, root beer, beef jerky, red vines, Butterfingers and other American candy bars.”
“Root Beer (except at special import stores!)”
*What did you eat the most of?
“rice, noodles, tofu, chicken, curry, carrots, onions, peppers, potatoes, pancakes.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“fermented soybeans (Natto) and sea urchin.”
“shiokara – raw squid guts. Don’t ask. It was horrible.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“You’re pretty much a celebrity/oddity to most Japanese people and people will stare at you all the time. Little kids will point their fingers and say, “Foreigner.” You’ll get used it, and actually learn to have some fun with it. Learn how to enjoy yourself with the kids in the neighborhoods where you’re knocking doors and their parents will appreciate you… and maybe even let you in the door.”
“I loved it all but the funniest thing I remember was one day shortly after I got to Japan and I was opening the door of a store to walk in and this man just walked in – like I was holding the door for him. Women are treated differently in Japan than in Canada/US.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Japan Sapporo Mission?
“Get some good winter boots and a lightweight, but really warm, winter jacket. Don’t ride your bike on the sidewalk at fast speeds—I got hit two times riding my bike on the sidewalk. Stick to the roads and wear your helmet all the time.”
“Go with an open mind. Be an optimist! You will have a wonderful experience!”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Don’t worry about looking or sounding stupid. Just throw yourself into the language and the culture and enjoy it!”