Since I arrived in Kyoto in January, the Osaka Central Church of Christ has welcomed me in with open arms. A small church of mostly married couples and working singles, I was connected to it via my church in Boston, a sister congregation within the worldwide International Churches of Christ. Our meetings consist of meaningful lessons and much conversation on a never-ending variety of topics, usually over an after-church lunch. From these friends of mine, I have learned about the care and creativity Japanese exhibit in apparently every aspect of life, a prime example being a cake they made for me out of avocado slices and nuts, since I cannot eat cake. Other experiences include making sushi by hand and witnessing the traditional mochi-making process. I’m afraid much of what I’ve learned in the realm of the Japanese language consists of Kansai Ben, the dialect particular to this region in Japan, and niche church phrases. They must think I’ve progressed, for I had the opportunity to make a welcome speech in front of the congregation one Sunday morning! The most important thing I have learned, however, is certainly that I have a home here in Japan if I ever choose to return.
Christianity is quite a minority religion in Japan, so this is actually one of the most interesting CIP’s I’ve heard about.
I have a ton of questions- the first of which may be too broad: what is the primary difference between Christians in the U.S. and in Japan? Also, what sect of Christianity does the Osaka Central Church of Christ Abide by? Did most of the people there grow up Christian or did they convert? Did you attend services weekly?
The Osaka Church is part of the nondenominational International Churches of Christ. Most people who attend did not grow up Christian but converted, and I attended weekly but wished I could go more.
As for the primary differences, I would say the amount of ‘family time’ spent together and the differences in evangelism. Here I found myself staying for hours and hours after church, talking and enjoying the relationships I got to make with these people who accepted me as one of their own even though I was at least a decade younger than the vast majority. I was also invited over people’s homes consistently. Not that nothing like this ever happened back home, but it’s simply their lifestyle here! And for evangelism, I’ve gotten used to simply walking up to people and asking if they would like to come to a Bible discussion at BU, but here I’ve been learning that I need to be someone different, be someone people want to be with. (Doesn’t mean I’m anywhere close to being good at it!) Basically to let my life, not my mouth, do the talking.
All my best,
It sounds like you had a great experience with your CIP. I have to say that I’m jealous of the Kansai-ben and church phrases you learned–because I was in a formal work environment, I was always spoken to in desu/masu form and still have such a hard time with all the idiomatic langauge that gets tossed around! And the avocado-nut cake sounds absolutely fantastic.
Thanks for sharing!
Just because I heard the church phrases all the time does not mean I catch everything that gets tossed around! Three months in I had to ask someone what was being said every time before a prayer! (You know how people seem to stack everything they’re trying to say into one syllable when they know everyone already gets what they’re saying.)
I think your experience will be much more useful for professional networking, and so definitely don’t downplay the importance of your comfortability and workplace Japanese!
All my best,