My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

This article is quite personal, so it's in the my blog category. I am not one to address these issues on the website, but at the request of many friends I have to write down my experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan.

One of the main reasons why I like Japan is because Japanese people strive to be humble, honest, polite and respectful, and even without any biblical beliefs they strive to follow a moral standard. A country where people value knowledge, avoid swear words and slang of sexual connotation and think more about others than about yourself.

If you don't already know, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses and I take Bible principles seriously. And even though Japan is a country with 90% of Buddhist and Shinto people, we are much better treated than by some Christians in Brazil. The only thing I ask for is respect! Because you may not know it yet, but Jehovah's Witnesses are also Christians.

Meeting the brothers in Japan

In Japan there are more than 25 Portuguese-speaking congregations (or groups). Japan's total data for 2017 are about 214,000 evangelizers, 3059 congregations and about 1 Jehovah's Witness for every 591 inhabitants. There are other congregations in several languages such as Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and English.

Before I traveled to Japan, the brothers in Brazil came to say stereotypes to me, asking if the brothers were not cold, or did not work all the time and did not have time for me to pay attention. If you think so, you are totally unaware of Japanese culture and hospitality.

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

They also forgot that 1 in 5 Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan are regular pioneers and spend more than 70 hours in preaching. Something impossible for those who work more than 12 hours a day. The Japanese do not work much, they are just dedicated to work and sometimes pressured to work overtime (mainly in factories).

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Before going to Japan I always tried to add brothers from there on my Facebook and Instagram. Talking to them a little, I got a contact from an Elder in Osaka. Our contact was very little, he was not online much and I just talked about my interest in going to Osaka and he volunteered to find brothers who would stay with me.

I thought I was going to be lonely, since I talked very little with the brothers in Japan and went alone with absolutely nothing confirmed. xD

Arriving in Japan and Visiting Bethel

Upon arriving in Japan I spent about 14 days in Tokyo at a hostel in the Akihabara neighborhood. In the second week of Japan on Wednesday I went to visit Bethel in the city of Ebina in Kanagawa. The day before, Osaka's brother said that there would be a guide in English to do a tuor at that headquarters responsible for creating publications not only for Japan, but for the whole world.

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Apparently it looked like a small place, smaller than the headquarters of Brazil, but it was a huge building with several floors that later seemed much bigger to me. An assembly hall is located on the same site as Bethel, which appears to occupy a gigantic court.

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

The city of Ebina seemed very peaceful, I arrived too early and took a long walk around the neighborhood. Before the visit we sat in a place at the reception to watch the video about the visit. I met some brothers from Yokohama and also foreign sisters who were visiting Bethel.

The Yokohama brothers invited me to visit their congregation. We took some pictures at a place that tells the story of Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan. Then my guide arrived and we followed a different route. As I am very stupid, I forgot the camera battery in the hotel and had to take few pictures with my cell phone.

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Visiting Gunma and Yokohama

The second week in Tokyo, I was invited to visit a family in Gunma, via social media. I went to the Isesaki station where the sister took me by car with other sisters who had just left the camp. We went to a KFC and then shopped at a huge market called costco.

For those who think that houses in Japan are small, the sister's house was gigantic and with 2 floors. We drove around 1:00 am to the English congregation that was in another city, then we went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where there was so much food, we couldn't even finish the portion sizes they brought.

The other day early I had to go back to Tokyo, because I promised to visit the Yokohama brothers I met at Bethel. I located their congregation and went to the place, the station was far away and I had to climb many stairs and still buy a transparent umbrella because it was raining.

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

The brothers were surprised and I never had so much attention in my life. A sister came to give me a 2000 yen note, kkkk did she think she was starving? Another sister in the wheelchair was always in my place to show me the text of the Bible in Portuguese. After the meeting we took a photo together and the brother and others took me to lunch at Saizeriya.

I don't even know how we talked a lot, my Japanese was limited, we used a lot of paper to explain some things. Another young brother took me to visit one of the highlights of Yokohama, with one of the fastest elevators in the world. Then he took me to a square where scenes from the anime oreimo took place.

English congregation in Osaka

He had been talking to a brother for a long time about how he would be staying in Osaka. When I went to Osaka city, I met my brother in Kyoto, a Japanese man from the English congregation who was very amused. He let me stay in an apartment for 1 day, the other day at the meeting he would go to his brothers' house.

The English congregation in Osaka is a lot of fun, the majority of those taking the lead are native Japanese. Some were still learning English and you could see their zeal and dedication. The Hall had several floors (3 I think), each with a congregation. There were other foreign-speaking congregations in place, I think a total of 12 congregations in one Hall.

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I went to stay at the home of a young man to be able to go on a special field trip, where he gathered several congregations of different languages to look for foreigners. We spent the whole day looking for foreigners, we went to the buildings and looked at the mailboxes to see if he had any family with a foreign name.

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

We even went into a mall and had lunch at a sushi mat. I remember going out with brothers from the Chinese congregation. The night I went to the house of the brother who would stay with me for a few days, he was very funny and took me to several interesting places in Osaka.

Another Brazilian who lived in Hamamatsu stayed at this house, he was also very nice. One day at night we visited Namba Dotonbori, a very famous tourist spot to give an informal witness. We were in normal clothes like jeans, even in Japan wearing a social outfit is extremely common.

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We approached foreign tourists and talked about normal things, took pictures and tried to speak their language. Only at the end, after a lot of random conversation, did we leave a leaflet. It was a very busy and peaceful place at the same time.

On Saturday we went to visit several tourist spots and then we went to the meeting. On Sunday we went to the field in the morning, we visited only one building where there was a Brazilian who had already studied. We spent hours talking and the resident even paid for a bed with chocolate at the vending machine. The camp was just that, then we visited a famous tomb in Osaka and had lunch soba.

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan

The rest of the trip in Osaka

Then I was going to stay at another brother's house, so I had to go after a gift. As part of Japanese culture, we should always bring a gift when visiting a home. I bought a kind of teddy bear that cleans the floor for the child to crawl on the floor while cleaning the house. I stayed the rest of my stay at the home of this family who had 2 children.

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They were very nice, the owner of the house always stayed at the door waving goodbye until I disappeared from sight every time I left. There was a day when I went to Hamamatsu to visit the brother who was touring Osaka. It was one of the most fun days, where I went to an area base, yakiniku barbecue and the onsen hot springs (I detailed my walk in hamamatsu here).

On Saturday we went to another city (Shiga) where the brother I contacted before going to Japan was going to give a speech. There I stayed at the home of an elderly Brazilian couple. It was great, the sister works with chiropractic and gave my spine a treat, she also had giant and beautiful cats. The other day the brother took me to have a traditional breakfast where he had rice and even fish.

Shiga e hamamatsu's photos

In all the houses I stayed, the breakfast was phenomenal. It was not just a traditional bread with coffee, but it had tuna, miso soup, juice, yorgut, sausage, ham and mozzarella. There were many options and it felt like a banquet, I can't say if it was just because I'm a visitor.

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How are the brothers in Japan

Of course, I'm just summarizing what my association with the brothers was like during my 30-day trip. It was an incredible experience, there really are no differences between the brothers from around the world. They were very warm and playful, patient and fun. I asked the brothers there a lot of questions and realized a few things.

They are much more reasonable and carefree. It was great to live in an environment where I could discuss Japanese animations without brothers creating stereotypes and wrong ideas. They went so far as to say that it was okay to visit some sights such as the famous golden temple in Kyoto (kinkaku-ji).

They also said that they never had this thought of danger of buying used things and where they came from. The most common thing in Japan is to buy used things, which are apparently new. The brothers took me to several stores where I bought manga and used junk. (The association also shares the same opinion: no problem).

My experience with Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan
Stone with Psalms 23: 1 text in the shiga hall

They also watch sports games in stadiums and visit places that some might question in Brazil. I even understand, since the environment of places in Brazil is totally different and disorganized compared to Japan. And even if it bothers some, their culture does not seem to like to meddle in the lives of others and gossip on their backs.

This contrast between individualism and teamwork that both the Japanese in general and the brothers in Japan follow is incredible. I realized that the Japanese live a simple life without wanting to do big things and feel joy in simple things. If you follow a Japanese brother on Instagram you will notice by random live or talking about a certain product or photos of animals and landscapes.

I wanted to talk a little more than I remember, but I didn't have enough time and I don't want to identify people's lives without authorization. I can conclude that the brothers in Japan are simple, very loving and hospitable. I can't wait to go back and take a walk for 3 months or maybe even stay there definitely…

PS: I asked several brothers in Japan, that experience of the sister who lost her finger because of Father and Yakuza is a lie!

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