Today our exhaustion caught up with us. George King took us into Kyoto to see some cultural sites, ministry sites, and the Christian cemetery he built. Kyoto is a large city in Japan and is considered the cultural soul of Japan. It is a very religious city and is one of the main hubs of the Shinto religion and has the head temple for Amida Buddhism in Japan.

Once again we saw the prevalence of Shinto and Buddhism here. The head temple for Amida Buddhism was huge and there were one to two hundred worshippers there. There were large groups of people waiting in line to take part in priest-led prayer ceremonies before the Amida Buddha. Here’s a video.

We also drove past one of the imperial palaces. The emperor of Japan is the high priest of the Shinto religion and has palaces in Kyoto and Tokyo. Shinto teaches that the emperor is of an unbroken line of high priests descending from the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu. We starting feeling the effects of exhaustion as nausea and tiredness hit us. We stopped at the second largest Shinto shrine in Japan and I jumped out and ran around like a tourist taking pictures so I could quickly hop back in the church van. I also shot a quick video of Shinto believers purifying themselves. Here’s the video.The temple guards didn’t like my photography antics and scolded me. I promptly left the property.

We ate lunch at a Hamburg restaurant that’s name is translated into English as “Surprise Donkey!” Jenelle was excited to have a western style meal. She had the best spaghetti she has ever had and chocolate cake for dessert. I had the daily lunch special and a green tea/sweet bean ice cream sundae. We treated George King to lunch.

We visited several of the churches that George King has started over the years. They are not only surviving but thriving! It’s such a blessing to know that God is working among the Japanese people. We didn’t get to go into any of the buildings or meet any of the people, but we did get to see how big they were. One of the congregations has upwards of forty members! That is BIG for a Japanese church!

We wanted to get to see the Christian cemetery that George King had built. In the Japanese way of thinking the cemetery is of more importance that the church building. All cemeteries in Japan are Buddhist and if you convert to Christianity you will not have a place to be buried. That would be an enormous burden on the surviving family. That’s an example of one of the many pressures Japanese face if they convert to Christianity. The cemetery is in the mountains so we had to ascend some VERY narrow two way roads. This was very interesting since George is fascinated with the new church van’s ability to accelerate on steep roads. There were even points on the road where George had to retract the side view mirrors so we could get through. We got up to the cemetery but it started pouring down rain so we had to leave without seeing it! I was able to see a grave with a cross on it as we were leaving, so that was a special blessing.

On the way back home we saw Ruth King’s house in the mountains. She lives in a mountain village. In the village we saw a man caring for his crops. It was very picturesque since he was dressed in traditional clothing with a straw hat tending to his rice field. Jenelle was reminded of Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

On the drive around Kyoto today George and I had some good conversations about missions strategy. We discussed methods of church planting, methods of get finances to support missions, where to get Japanese men to take over a mission, and how to guide a church into its independence. It was a good talk. By the grace of God we survived George’s driving and made it back to the old church building to eat and go to sleep.