(or, being a Christian in Japan)
Now, since Japan is mainly a Shinto/Buddhist country I thought this would be rather tricky. I’d looked up churches in Akita and they all seemed to be too far away so it seemed like I wasn’t in luck. However salvation (if you’ll excuse the pun) was at hand!
AIU has a Bible Study Group (run by one of the teachers, Clay Williams) which is not only for well established Christians, but also people (mainly Japanese students) who have never encountered Christianity or the Bible before. The club itself is held either at Clay’s house (in Kawabe, a lovely 50 minute walk or a bus ride) where his wife Bonnie cooks us fabulous meals or in a room at the university. I much prefer it at Clay’s house as we have the added madness of their dog ( who mostly responds to chinese commands and goes nuts when the doorbell rings) and their son Jimmy who is only about a year old but, when paired with dog, is part of an unstoppable duo. Seriously, they can charm the food right out of your hands!
Anyways….Bible Study club. We start off the club (after food) with a bit of worship – basically singing – and then study bits of the bible. I have to say, the order is a bit confusing. We’re starting with the New Testament, but we’re working on the bit before crucifixion…usually done during easter….ach well…
So, it was thanks to Bible Study group that I have not only found a church, but also coined a lift there. The ‘Tsuchizaki Gloria Chapel’ resides just outside the centre of Akita city (unsurprisingly in Tsuchizaki) and is mostly made up of a Jpanese congregation of all ages. Everyone is very friendly, if speaking little to no english, and I have been made very welcome.
The service itself starts with worship (the songs kindly with furigana so we can read them), then a bible reading and then the sermon (translated by the fabulous Hinako, who interprets every service for us). This is where it stops being like a normal church and the Japanese creativity sets in. The church has a Gospel choir, a youth group, a hip hop group and, wait for it, a gospel hula group.
After church they do lunch upstairs (only ¥100 so not a bad deal). It’s usually easy to bulk meals like bolognaise or noodles, but they’re always delicious!
Overall the church is a little more ‘happy-clappy’ than I’m used to but I think I’m going to enjoy it and certainly meet more people there! I just hope they don’t make me sing at the front again….
Well, until next time folks! またね！