Happy New Year

7 01 2009

I hope everyone is, and will continue to have, a very blessed year filled with the joy of Christ.

So how did I spend my New Year`s Eve?  At midnight mass of all places.  In my home country it is more common to have an evening mass, and a morning mass the next day because everyone likes to celebrate loudly at midnight but in Japan this is not the case.  New Year`s Eve, if you have never experienced one here is actually pretty quiet.  People are in their hometowns visiting their parents and sitting around watching tv and eating soba.  Others may go to a temple or shrine because at the Buddhist temples they ring the bell 108 times.  The Shinto shrines are packed with people the first two or three days of the year, even at night, as people make their first visit of the year.

Many Catholic churches here have New Years Eve midnight mass, and since I was lazy and didn’t feel like spending the night out on the town I went to  mass instead.   I was a bit worried no one would be there but it turned out the church was actually three quarters full.  There was no countdown  just a regular mass that started right at midnight.


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4 responses

8 01 2009
nisha

Hey, I just found your site while searching for Mother Mary in Japan. I’ve been thinking hard about teaching in Japan when I get older, but I was really worried about not finding much evident Catholicism there. I know there are Christian people there, but having no affirmation of a large enough Catholic community, I was scared that if I went for an extended period of time, I would loose my faith.

Simply finding your site/blog, made me feel somewhat at ease. I’ll be frequenting this often, from here on in.

8 01 2009
vee8

There are actually plenty of Catholic churches around especially in more urban areas. I did some research and I found that there is actually a Catholic church near almost every station on the train line I most often use. Of course mass is usually in Japanese which took some getting used to for me, aided by a bilingual missalette I bought, but now it is not intimidating at all. Of course the readings are in Japanese but many churches either have an English pamphlet printed with that Sundays readings to be picked up at the back, or a book with the readings to pick up. The homily is probably the hardest part for me to understand so I just listen to the homilies from ewtn on my ipod. For confession I go to one of the major English speaking churches in Tokyo and the pretty much covers all the practical going to church stuff.

As for living out your faith most Japanese will have little knowledge of Catholicism and little hostile rejection of it. There are a few weirdos in any country though so you may encounter a couple of them but for the most part people dont even know what a nativity set is so you will probably find your self explaining the basics instead of arguing over moral issues. The hardest time you would likely have is with fellow foreigners who have all kinds of biases and prejudices about Catholicism and you might lose some friends or not make quite as many foreign friends because of that.

8 01 2009
nisha

Ah, I see. That’s really a pleasant thing to know. I’m currently learning Japanese, so the mass shouldn’t be totally foreign to me when I listen to it. As for the placement of churches, I would have never expected it to be so common. It’s truly amazing, isn’t it? At least, for me it is.

The hostility, misunderstanding or lack of knowledge are to be expected. Wierdos are wherever one goes, I suppose. Making friends is not too important to me, as long as I have my faith and God. =D

13 01 2009
dbp

nisha:

If you’re interested in learning the Japanese of the Mass, expect a bit of a shock at first. The Japanese ain’t your teacher’s Japanese. Expect “odd” things, like watashitachi no tsumi o yurushite kudasai sometimes becoming watashitachi no tsumi o oyurushi kudasai (standard, modern keigo, which you may learn but usually further down the road) and then other times warera no tsumi o yurushitamae, which is classical Japanese and I would be surprised if you learned in school. You’ll also see things like ten no ito takaki tokoro ni hosanna instead of Ten no ichiban takai tokoro ni hosanna.

It’s not at all insurmountable, and actually you’ll learn lots of great stuff from it if you want. It just takes a while to get used to, so don’t get discouraged!

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