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Snapshot of Japan – The mission stretches from Tokyo down to Hamamatsu, which is a small area but has a huge population. 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.
**Did you serve in the Japan Tokyo South Mission? If so we could love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**
Missionary work was first started in this region by Heber J. Grant in Yokohama, part of the Tokyo South Mission. There is good leadership at the ward and stake level, however, the branches typically need more priesthood help. There is a high need to reactivate members of the church who were baptized during a period of mass church growth during the 80’s. Converts of the church in this area tend to be women.
Portions are typically smaller than you experience in the United States and generally more expensive, especially in Tokyo. Grocery stores carry American food items such as cereal, milk, eggs, beef. Members will often try to impress you with an American meal, like Pizza. A common Japanese meal is Sukiyaki, vegetables and meat cooked on a hot plate, served next to rice with an occasional raw egg used as dipping sauce. There are many American fast food restaurants available throughout the mission.
Transportation in Tokyo Japan is efficient and fast-paced. Most missionaries use bikes, however, in the city it is common to use the train system. When traveling from the north to the south mission missionaries might use the popular high-speed trains. Compared to the United States, driving is done on the opposite side of the road, which can be confusing for the few missionaries assigned to drive mission vehicles.
Japan is very safe. The culture is very non-violent as a whole which leads to little crime. The police and armed forces are well organized and trained. They are the only ones permitted to own firearms.
Bowing is still observed as the proper way to greet someone. This is most commonly done with your hands at your side(for men) and hands in front(for women), feet together and your face pointing towards the ground. There are different formalities in terms of bowing for friends and bowing for important persons. The further you bow down, the greater the show of respect. For friends about 30 degrees is appropriate. For apologies and very formal situations bow to 45 degrees or more. Church members typically greet with the classic, “mormon hand-shake.”
“Konichiwa” – Good day
“Ohayo gozaimasu” – Good morning
“Oyasumi nasai” – Good night
Bring slip on shoes because you are always taking your shoes on and off as you enter people’s homes. This is a common Japanese custom.
Missionaries are required to wear suits on specific days. During the summer you are able to wear short sleeve dress shirts.
1-7-7 Kichijoji Higashi-cho
Straight from the Japan Tokyo South Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Root beer, peanut butter”
“Sour cream, Rootbeer, Mexican food,”
“Peanut butter, meat”
“Powdered Sugar, Peanut Butter, Chips Deluxe cookies,”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, curry, lots of vegetables, fish”
“Sushi, rice, curry rice”
“udon (noodles); raman”
“Onigiri (rice wrapped in sushi), Corn Flakes, Yogurt, Inarisushi (rice in a tofu bag)”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Octopus tentacles, fermented bean curd, dried fish (like a cracker)”
“Sea slug, eel and sea cucumber”
“Raw Squid. Yuk!”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“That there were no forks, that nothing was written in English or if it was it was horrible incorrect.”
“The toilets were basically squat holes. No seats.”
“Vending machines on the street selling all sorts of things, including electronics, etc. Living in one room and just changing around the furniture to suit the current need. Sitting and sleeping right on the floor (with a cushion.)”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Japan Tokyo South Mission?
“Love the people”
“Love the people. Keep the rules.”
“Don’t expect to become fluent in Japanese in the MTC. Give yourself time and be patient with yourself.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“How to budget my money better.”
“I wish I knew the scriptures better.”
“Even though it’s the hardest thing I will ever do because I will my family so much, it was worth it and I will be grateful every day that I did it.”
“Trusting the Lord, that there will always be a way for you to succeed. That there is a higher purpose for you going to that mission, at that time.”
“I wish I was in better shape. I was okay weight wise, but not so much in muscle strength.”
**Did you serve in the Japan Tokyo South Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**