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Finding Christianity in Japan, Where Believers Are a Small Minority

Categories: Japan, Citizen Media, Religion
夕日に照らされる十字架。画像はFlickrユーザーのSharonより。 [1]

Sunset illuminates a crucifix. Image courtesy Flickr user Sharon.

In terms of number of followers, Christianity is often considered a major world religion. However, there are very few Christians in Japan, where less than 1% of the population observes the Christian faith [2].

In Japan, spirituality as it is understood and practiced in the West or in the Judeo-Christian tradition is not common. For the average Japanese person, Christianity is associated mainly with getting married in a faux chapel with a faux priest [3].

What an awesome chapel wedding (/_;)/

Using pseudonyms, some Japanese people are going online to profess their Christian faith. One blog post in particular has prompted dozens of comments about Christianity in Japan [6].

In the blog post, an anonymous blogger in Japan describes his relationship with Christianity:








I have an inferiority complex: why is it that the people around me are so successful, yet I can accomplish nothing? So when others around me are cold to me, I feel like crying with sorrow and rage, and wonder why it is that I alone must suffer like this.

It's often said that if you want to change the world, then you must change yourself. And it came to me in a flash. Maybe all that I can do is accept that there's some sort of divine being who loves me.

Speaking truthfully, however, I don't believe that God exists, and so it is hard for me to say that I have faith.

But I tried assuming God exists and imagined myself loved by that kind of existence, which led me to thank him for his abundant love. I never experienced something better than this thankfulness. I am ashamed to say that made me realise how I had been unthankful to others.

The blogger here is conflicted; he wants to have Christian faith, but is unsure if God even exists.

However, it seems religious devotion brought the blogger bewilderment as well as joy.





Oh, but wait, isn’t this a typical pattern of involvement with a religion? Or am I already involved with it?

I cannot expel something that has made an impression on my heart. It is too late to think it over anyway. The doctrine teaches me to how to live life as a human and it all sounds very decent to me. I am inclined to listen to it, and live a spiritually rich life by coming closer, but I cannot make up my mind because it is a religion.

I guess my parents would not like me believing in religion. Oh well, since they contradict me no matter what I do, what I do makes little difference.

I must keep this feeling secret.

Many commenters responded negatively [7]to the post. Commenter takass32 denied the existence of a god [8].


I suppose the ability to imagine or believe in a non-existent person who is honorable and tolerant of yourself is the essence of religious devotion.

honeybe, another commenter on the blog post, had a more positive opinion about having faith, but also made it a point to highlight the negative aspects of religion [9].


There is nothing wrong with getting involved with a religion unless you generate a negative effect on people around you, such evangelising persistently, trying to sell religious tracts, or imposing religious ideas.

Commenter ketudan considered the possibility [10] that the blogger may be in danger of joining a cult.


Unfortunately, there are tons of cults and new religions that define themselves as “Christian”, so I advise you to Google the name of that church or the religion.

I had a homework assignment once to attend a service in the past so I visited “a decent church” in the neighborhood, but what I found there was a kooky cult in which someone pretending to be a minister played the guitar in a Japanese-style room.

gohankun felt sympathy [11] for the sheer difficulty of having a religious faith in Japan.


It sure is tiring to have a particular religion in Japan. I have undergone hardships because I come from a Christian family and I am a Christian, too. I still suffer sometimes. There are times when I wish I had been born in the West. Life would be much easier then.

Commenter nows_s came to the conclusion that religion is just another way to get through life. [12]


Life is too much for one person to confront, so we submit to the gods, rely on a country, or become addicted to love affairs, two-dimensional characters, nicotine, or alcohol. If that somehow enables us to live an easy life, then, what's the problem?