Hey, John of Japan!!!

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Ijiwaru Sensei, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    What is your experience with Japan?

    What aspects of Japanese culture interest you?

    I have fairly strong interest in Japanese literature. I've particularly enjoyed books by Kawabata Yasunari, Endo Shusaku, and Murakami Haruki.:thumbs:

    One of the things I miss most about Japan is the food. My mouth still waters when I think about Hokka Hokka. :love2:
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Ijiwaru Sensei.

    Eat your heart out: on Monday my wife and I will go to our favorite restaurant, "Five Star." It is one of those "all you can eat" barbecue places, you know, where you cook your own meat on the burner set in your table? But this one has an incredible selection, with Japanese, Chinese, Korean and western foods: various meats, sushi, ramen, breads, salads, kimchee, etc. There, is your mouth watering? :smilewinkgrin:

    And now that I've done that mean thing to you, I'll answer your questions.

    First of all, we celebrated our 25th year in Japan as missionaries on May 6 of this year. It has been quite a ride. We lived in Saitama (Kawagoe City and Tokorozawa City) for the first two years while I went to language school down in Shibuy Ward, Tokyo. Loved it! Tokyo is so huge and fascinating. Then we spent 13 years in Yokohama planting Joy Baptist Church, after which we moved up here to the northern island of Hokkaido, where we have been ever since. Our city of Asahikawa is in a basin, surrounded by 360 degrees of beautiful mountains, and has a population of 360,000.

    As to what aspects of Japanese culture I enjoy, I love the history, and I am a martial artist. I have black belts in jujutsu, karate and kung fu, and love to read in both English and Japanese about this part of the culture. I write a regular column in the GMAU Journal (www.gmau.org) which you might enjoy reading.

    I have held two Christian martial arts seminars at the Japan Bible Home in Gunma Prefecture, and both times we had a good group from the States and took them on historical trips to Nikko, where the great (and nasty) Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is buried. Fascinating! Up here in Hokkaido we recently took a great trip to Hakodate, a famous port city where the last battle against the Meiji Emperor was fought by the famous "Shinsengumi" militia.

    As for the literature, I do enjoy it occasionally, but do my recreational reading in American detective books. I do enjoy haiku poetry, and occasionally pick up my bilingual version of Bassho's Narrow Road to a Far Province or the Hyakunin Isshu ("One Hundred Poets").

    So, where did you live in Japan?
     
  3. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    Now that's just plain cruel. And yes, my mouth is watering. It is amazing how much we miss the food. There are a few really good Japanese restaurants within an hour of where we live, but we don't go as often as we'd like.

    Well, I'll definitely try to stay on your good side. And I will check out the journal.

    That's pretty cool. My interests run more toward the novelists of the twentieth century, though I have read, in translation, some Chikamatsu, Basho, Buson, Issa, and a portion of The Tale of Genji. Have you ever read Endo Shusaku's Silence? It is a historical novel dealing with the persecution of the Catholic church in the seventeenth century. More than that though it deals with the cultural and psychological barriers the Japanese have toward Christianity. Endo's theology is very much colored by a "historical approach" to Jesus, but the novel nonetheless raises many important issues in missions--well, in my humble opinion it does. :D I use the cover of the novel as my avatar as it combines three of my great loves--Christianity, Japan, and literature.

    We were in the part of Japan that many mainlanders don't quite consider Japan--Okinawa. After finishing my MA, we went to Okinawa where I taught at a (not-so-reputable) private English school. When my contract came up after two years, I was reduced to a part-time teacher, so I picked up a number of part-time teaching and editing jobs. For about a six month stretch, I had seven part-time jobs, one of those was teaching college English and literature courses to primarily military members at the University of Maryland. After teaching part-time with UM for six months, I was brought on full-time. I taught with Maryland for a little over four years and have been teaching at an unnamed Christian university back in the States for the last seven years.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Alas, I've not read anything by Endo, to my shame. I'll have to keep an eye open.

    Have you read anything by Ayako Miura, the Christian novelist with Japan-wide fame? I have translations of The Wind is Howling and Shiokari Pass by her. Interestingly enough, she is from right here in Asahikawa, and there is a little museum devoted to her memory. (She died several years ago.) One of these days I plan to take a train to the real Shikari Pass where the incident on which her novel is based occurred.

    I've been to Okinawa years ago to preach at a teen camp for Maranatha Baptist Church (the big US military work). My wife and I will fly down there at the end of August for a ministry trip to preach at Maranatha and for our BWM missionary on the island. And oh yes, we plan some deep sea fishing! Should be fun.

    To be honest? You are a good cut above the average American English teacher in Japan, what with having your MA and all! Good for you! Don't want to tell me where you teach? By PM, maybe? No problem if you don't.

    And my deepest apologies for tantalizing you with our upcoming meal at Five Star. :smilewinkgrin: Anything I should eat in your honor? Do you go for sushi? I always start the meal with a salmon sushi. They actually even have beef sushi there, too!

    I love ramen, but I don't usually eat it there at Five Star. We have a special little ramen restaurant we go to with Sapporo ramen, which we thought was the best in the country even when we lived in Yokohama. :tongue3:
     
  5. Ijiwaru Sensei

    Ijiwaru Sensei
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    Definitely. The translator's 12 page preface gives the historical background of the novel and is quite a fascinating read in itself.

    I have not read anything by her before, but I've put Shiokari Pass in my Amazon shopping cart.

    I do love my privacy. :thumbs:

    Well, Hokka Hokka is more my speed. I can eat sushi, but I'm not a big fan. I like tonkatsu, sukiyaki, katsudon, karaage, donburi, and just about any combination of vegetables that can be put together. Shoot. Now I'm making my own mouth water.
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I think you will enjoy it. The Wind is Howling is darker, and I didn't enjoy it quite as much. It is billed as "an autobiographical journey from nihilism to Christianity." Of course she certainly was not a Baptist, but a good writer anyway.

    I love all of those! We have a nice katsudon restaurant close to our church. And sukiyaki is a must for happy eating. My wife and I had to quit with the raw egg part though after we both got sick one time. Good eating in Japan can be a challenge!

    I remember the first time I had a raw egg after swearing I never would. Coming home from language school, I stopped in a train station for a bowl of soba noodles. I was so proud of myself when I read the Chinese characters and ordered "egg soba"--until I saw him break that raw egg over the noodles! Culture shock!! I ate it though, and it was good.:laugh:

    So what was your worst culinary culture shock over here? I once bought a chocolate chip ice cream bar--then found myself picking beans out of my teeth instead of chocolate chips!! :confused: :eek:

    As for Hokka Hokka, we never have gone there much. We do occasionally get the obento lunches in train stations or convenience stores when we are on a trip.
     

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