Today we woke up early to go to some cultural sites to try and better understand the Japanese way of life and spiritual influences of Shinto and Buddhism. We started out our day by getting on the train with Jim Smith and going to the other side Tokyo to the largest fish market in the world. Some people make the trip to the fish market every day to get sushi fresh off the boat. When we got to the fish market we entered the public market. There were many small shops and restaurants in the market and the lines were already getting so long they were going outside and around the shops. As we were walking around the market we noticed a Torii gate, which is the entrance to a Shinto shrine.

Shinto is the national religion in Japan. People say Japan has freedom of religion and it does in their constitution, but the emperor is the high priest of the Shinto religion. Japanese businesses, families, and neighbors will make your life extremely difficult if you don’t worship the Shinto gods. Christian missionaries are not persecuted in Japan but their converts are. Shinto is a polytheistic religion that believes in the existence of kami, which are territorial gods. They are usually tied to things in creation such as trees, rivers, fish, etc. The Japanese people think that the kami protect or curse people depending on the status of their relationship with them.

We went through the Torii gate onto the shrine property to watch the Japanese people worship. We saw workers from the fish market come and purify themselves with water, make an offering, ring a bell to wake up the kami that protects the fishermen, bow in respect, clap their hands and make a prayer. It’s a normal morning ritual for the employees at the fish market. If they get hurt on the job and they didn’t worship on that morning, the employer considers it the fault of the employee.

After this we went into the wholesale area of the fish market where we saw people unloading fish, cutting them up, preparing them, and selling them. We saw fish that were bigger than the men who were working on them. They were huge! We saw a whole lot of fish and other sea creatures. I think Jenelle was grossed out but she says it was cool to see the creatures that God had created, regardless of how stinky they are.

Our next stop was a large Buddhist temple in Tokyo. This particular sect of Buddhism is very interesting in that they stress enlightenment by faith rather than good works. We saw a Buddhist priest chanting an invocation to the Amida Buddha for the blessing of a family. Although they are sincere in their faith, we know the Bible teaches that they are still dead and blind in their sin and in need of Jesus Christ rather than Amida Buddha as their savior. Buddhist Prayer and Ceremony Video

Later in the day Wakaba mission’s deacon Takahashi-san and his wife took us to historic Kawagoe. The buildings in Kawagoe are extremely old and beautiful. They seem like a cultural icon of Japan. We went through several Japanese family-run shops and in one of them we got to see a back room which was a traditional Japanese restaurant. You had to walk through a Japanese garden with wind chimes and the sound of dripping water which has a psychological effect on the Japanese. The restaurant had bamboo woven floors and a table that was very low to the ground so you had to sit on your knees to eat. It was very aesthetic.

Takahashi-san took us to an old bell tower that is attached to two Shinto shrines. People came and made their prayers to the kami to heal their ailing family members. It’s truly heartbreaking to see people that honestly believe the kami will help them.

Afterwards he took us to a large Buddhist temple. Inside was the birthplace of the shogun Iemitsu. We discussed with Takahashi the influence that Iemitsu had on Japanese society and how he banned Christianity from Japan. Iemitsu had paintings made of Jesus Christ and had the Japanese people step on his image. Those that refused to step on the image would be executed. He implemented a system of pressures and demonic infleunce in society that to this day does a very good job of keeping Christianity out of Japan.

On the temple grounds we had an interesting experience. As many of you know I’m not one to ascribe to felt spiritual experiences. However when we walked onto part of the temple grounds where there were 500 statues of the disciples of Buddha I had an overwhelming feeling of repulsive spiritual darkness. I told Jenelle I thought I was going to cry and throw up. Jenelle said she felt very creepy. After we left the property I explained my feelings to Takahashi-san. He said the first time he went to the temple after he was saved he had the same experience. He thinks that since we are all spiritual people we are able to sense a strong presence of demonic activity at the site. The missionaries here agree.

After the temple we had dinner with Takahashi-san and his wife. We ate at a Hamburg restaurant. Hamburg restaurants specialize in steak and hamburger entrees. The food and the service here are always amazing. The employees here are unbelievably nice to you. I always try to eat whatever is the local flavor, and Jenelle usually goes with a western-style dish. I think she is adjusting well and I love her so much.

The Japanese here are in a desperate need of missionaries. Some mission agencies have left the country because they aren’t seeing the number of converts that they want. The low number of Christians, missionaries, and churches makes this a very needy nation. The Christian converts are persecuted in secret. These people are enslaved to demonic religion and need the truth of the Bible to set them free. Please consider your part in reaching the Japanese people.