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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 5 stakes and 1 district located within the Japan Tokyo Mission, the Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Matsudo, and Kiryu stakes and a district in Niigata. An Employment Resource Center, and a few English-language wards are located in Tokyo. The Tokyo Japan Temple was dedicated in 1980 and is also located within the mission boundaries.
A recent video series highlights the growth and strength of the Church in the Japan Tokyo area. Click here to view.
Rice is a staple food in Japan, and missionaries can expect to eat a lot of it while serving in the Japan Tokyo mission! Other common food staples include soba noodles and miso soup. Since Japan is an island nation, seafood dishes (such as sushi and shrimp) are quite popular, though chicken and pork dishes are also fairly common. American restaurants are not uncommon in Tokyo, so there will still be opportunities to get some American food from time to time!
Most missionaries in Japan use bicycles for transportation, though a few do get to use mission vehicles. It’s important to be aware that drivers in Japan drive on the left-hand side of the road, so traffic patterns are different than in the United States. Tokyo also has an extensive subway and train system that connects many different areas of the city. Tokyo’s public transportation system also includes buses and trams.
Japan has low crime rates, however, the area is prone to frequent earthquakes. During an earthquake, 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.
The Tokyo area has plenty of unique sites to visit, as well as several cultural festivals that are held throughout the year. Many historical sites and festivals are related to Japan’s lengthy history with Buddhism, and provide unique cultural experiences for missionaries.
Official Mission Blog – http://japantokyomission.blogspot.com
“Japan Tokyo Mission” Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/4752784077/
Straight from the Japan Tokyo Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, Chicken, Pork”
“Noodles, rice, curry, chicken”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Fermented Beans – yuck!”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Even though the Japanese people generally were not interested in Religion, they were very kind and loving and most of them would do anything for you.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Japan Tokyo Mission?
“Love the people and their culture, food, etc. Be kind!”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I had known more about Japan, its history and its culture.”
**Did you serve in the Japan Tokyo Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**