Phonetic hiragana letters are added between the Chinese symbols to create the sounds necessary for Japanese grammar. Japanese literature would obviously be much more accessible to all readers if it was written without any kanji characters, however the practice of publishing books entirely in the phonetic alphabet is apparently reserved only for children’s books.
Words are comprised of sounds, not images. Notice how the world “logo” in the modern sense no longer means word – it means a symbol instead of a word. Companies have logos and through recognition of the symbol and advertising to convey general messages and feelings. The use of symbols instead of words is what the Catholic church did when it put images of Mary and the saints on the walls of the churches and took out the Bibles with words that could be understood. Symbols can be re-explained and re-purposed. Queen of heaven, or Mary, or Diana, or the Whore of Babylon – which is it? Somebody can simply lie about what the symbol means and thereby change its meaning. Honesty is in words – particular sounds that tell of a certain word and not of another.
Scriptures must give a certain sound and they must avoid graven images – therefore a good Japanese Bible must not only be based upon the Authorized Version text – it must also be written entirely in phonetic script.
This allegedly causes problems. For example, the lack of spaces in sentences. Easy solution: add spaces.
Also there are a great number of homophones in Japanese – words that sound the same but have different meanings.
But it is better to eliminate such confusion through word-choice rather than ‘solve’ the problem for readers with disastrous Chinese characters that retain homophones for the listeners. Or another solution: improve the spelling conventions. Spell homophones slightly differently (as we do in English: hair, hare) or add an accent notation where that would differentiate them.
These videos show how even normal Japanese people don’t understand basic kanji:
Here he tries to explain reasons for the Japanese tradition of resisting a change from kanji (although Koreans were successful to change their system):
– There has been a number of attempts to abolish kanji in Japanese history.
– Once, John Pelzel from the Allied occupation of Japan tried to completely romanise Japanese after WWII.
[Here’s a bit of history of people who tried to abolish kanji]
1866 – Hisoka Maejima, a Japanese statesman, was said to send a proposal to the shogun, insisting on abolishing kanji.
1872 – Yukichi Fukuzawa, Japan’s prominent figure featured in the current 10,000 yen bill, wrote about his idea of abolishing kanji.
1881 – A group of people started a movement to promote the use of kana letters in place of kanji.
1946 – Naoya Shiga, a famous Japanese novelist, suggested that Japan should adopt French as the official language.
1946 – The Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the most popular Japanese newspapers, published an editorial arguing that adopting Roman alphabet would be key to democratise the country.
We don’t alter the essentials of the true gospel message:
Repent before God by acknowledging that you are a guilty sinner that can’t save yourself; freely obtain mercy by placing your faith in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again, granting to us who come to him forgiveness of sins and eternal life; Upon trusting Christ you received the free gift of eternal salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; As a saved Christian you go forward in gratitude by avoiding sin and doing what is right – not to earn or keep salvation, but because that is your new nature in Christ (Acts 20:21; 1 Corinthians 15:3-5; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 6:2).
That’s Christianity. A different message that omits crucial components in order to please an audience won’t save anybody.
Nevertheless there are many different styles of presenting the gospel and it is perfectly acceptable to try to use a method that works the best.
The Japanese have a concept called kaizen:
n(Philosophy) a philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices that underlies total quality management and just-in-time business techniques[literally: improvement]
It is a mode of thinking that Japanese manufacturers adopted of applying incremental improvements continually over time in order to obtain better methods.
Rather than completely re-do an efficient system from scratch, every part and step in the old system are analysed separately and the impact of isolated changes are meticulously measured. If it shows an improvement the change is kept otherwise it is discarded. This is a much more thorough and exact way of studying problems.
The Western approach is either low-risk ‘tried and true’ or high-risk innovation. The slow but sure dividends of constant painstaking tinkering is under-appreciated.
Historically the outcome of kaizen for the Japanese has repeatedly been that technology that originated elsewhere is eventually made by unique Japanese methods at higher quality and better price. They then boast not of the original invention, but of their conquering the market by improvement.
So back to the puzzle of Japan’s non-acceptance of Christianity – has the kaizen method ever been applied to this challenge?
Seems one would select a variety of gospel sermons – each one approaching the problem from a completely different scriptural context. Maybe its Creation, or Christ, or the nations, or Genesis, or Romans, or here and there concerning body-soul-spirit, or legal explanations, etc. Then there are differences in levels of sophistication and levels of information. Simple or complex. There are difference in extra-scriptural references: jokes, anecdotes; etymologies. Differences in tone: serious; light; urgent; indifferent. Difference in place: street; auditorium; office; classroom; modern church; old-fashion church. Group or solo. Traditional; Western; Oriental. Music styles accompanying. There are countless additional considerations.
The kaizen method would require that all of these differences get put into a matrix and each and every component is tested against all the others. There would have to be thousands of different iterations where a single element or combination of elements are changed and then careful measurements of “success” made for each and every arrangement. Of course “success” would have to be measured accurately in terms of preferred outcomes of salvation and a true understanding – and not a false success of which style was most pleasing.
A short-cut to narrow down the best (and worst) methods would be by historical research into the last century where preaching Christ to Japan was tried and failed by many. Yet much of that was done by liberal do-gooders with a social gospel with the objective of turning Japanese into church-going humanitarians like themselves. Japanese-style Christianity can take its own form – it need not resemble the western church – it only needs to be filled with authentic saved Christians.
Ikejime is a Japanese method that helps maintain the quality of fish meat by draining the blood and spiking both the brain and spine as soon as the fish is caught.
- From the skull drive a nail into brain and scramble it until fish gapes and rattles;
- Next thread a metal wire down the fish’s spinal column and scrape until all muscle spasms stop;
- Cut arteries in gills and the dorsal and place it in icy water for blood to drain out completely.
Some fishermen make cuts for draining blood first, perhaps so it will be faint and rattle less vigorously when spiked. Some cut first so they can run the wire up the fish’s spine – from the tail toward the head – which might improve accuracy.
Eating blood is strictly forbidden in both the Old and New Testament.
” But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” Genesis 9:4
” Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 12:23-25
” Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” Acts 15:19-20
Spiking the skull results in rapid kill by making the fish brain-dead, but this alone is not enough to stop continuing strain on the fish’s body muscles from tiny involuntary signals coming from the spine. By scraping the spine with a wire it is destroyed and all such movement stops, hence the flesh remains fresh. The drained meat can now be left on the fish for filleting hours later without any loss in quality.
Jesus ate some cooked fish twice in his resurrected body.
” And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.” Luke 24:41-43
” As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.” John 21:9-13
There will be fish for food in the millennium also:
” And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En–gedi even unto En–eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.” Ezekiel 47:9-10
Spiking the head is what Jael did to the antichrist type Sisera:
” Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.” Judges 4:21-22
Leviathan is a giant fish that represents the devil:
” There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.” Psalms 104:26
” He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.” Job 41:31-34
” In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” Isaiah 27:1
Catching, spiking, and giving the fish’s flesh for meat is what God does to Leviathan in order to feed his people:
” Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?” Job 41:1-2
” Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?” Job 41:6-7
” Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.” Psalms 74:14
” And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15
” And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Romans 16:20
It is commonly repeated that only 1% of the Japanese are Christian, but apparently that is wrong. Here is a reported religious breakdown of the religious inclinations of Japan’s 126 million people:
55.2% Buddhists (69,931,454)
25.9% New-Religionists (32,827,640)
10.2% Nonreligious (12,905,945)
3.6% Christians (4,559,573)
2.9% Atheists (3,642,371)
2.1% Shintoists (2,669,167)
So there are actually more Christians than Shintoists in Japan!
Of course, some of those 3.6% ‘Christians’ are foreigners living in Japan and some are Japanese who have joined cults like Catholicism and Mormonism. But nevertheless it is still encouraging to see such a large number of reported Christians in Japan.
Evidently most Japanese who visit the Shinto shrines do so culturally, but are actually Buddhists, or have no religion. In fact, since it is reported elsewhere that polls show two-thirds of the Japanese profess no religion, many nominal Buddhists don’t even take that religion seriously either. And yet it is reported that half the homes in Japan have a Bible.
So there has been a significant erosion of the old religions, the Christians now out-numbers Shintoists, and half the Japanese have the word of God already in their house … what will happen next?
There has also been a recent up-tick in missionary activity to Japan after the 2011 Fukishima earthquake and tsunami disaster. This all combines at this time to create a very interesting situation. Support overseas missions and please pray that we will one day see a harvest for Jesus Christ in Japan.
Just thought I’d jot down a few notes here about religion in Japan, a country that desperately needs Jesus Christ.
In Joshua chapter 17 a certain Levite was hired by a man named Michah to be his personal priest over the graven image he had made. Later, in chapter 18, the priest got recruited by the tribe of Dan to be their priest and father – and he took the graven image along with him.
Another instance is found in 2 Kings 17:26 where the Samaritans where transplanted into northern Israel and the LORD sent mountain lions to attack them. The Assyrians sent a Jewish priest to teach them the manner of the God of the land to stop the attacks. The priest taught them that they should fear the LORD, but they then had an ad-hoc religious jumble, serving both their old gods and the LORD:
“Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. … So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. … So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.” 2 Kings 17:29~41.
Someone has compiled research (Rev. Arimasa Kubo, author of “Lost Tribes of Japan“) showing interesting similarities between “Shinto” – the native folk religion of Japan – and the worship of the true God as found in the Bible. This lead the researcher to conjuncture that the Japanese may be a “lost tribe” of Jews. Read the rest of this entry »