Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | December 13, 2009

Finding Christmas in Japan: Part 1

Since Rachael is at home delighting in Christmas traditions galore, I thought I’d give it my best shot to find Christmas in Japan.

You’ve probably heard the statistic that just 1% of Japanese are Christians, despite a massive American and missionary presence for many years.  Yet even with this small number of Christians, Christmas is actually a pretty big deal here.  Jesus is certainly not the centerpiece of the holiday (is He in many places anyway these days?), but there are certainly enough Christmas lights, music, and Santa hats to go around.

Today, instead of going to my more traditional Lutheran-style service at Tokyo Union Church (where Rachael and I are members), I joined my friend Danny to check out his much more contemporary church.  “Jesus Lifehouse,” as it is called, is a vibrant congregation of young Tokyo-ites (Japanese and foreign) with a hip, 2009-style bilingual service with lights, videos, and a phenomenal worship band.  Danny and I had a great talk about the differing aspects of our churches’ worship styles and it was good to get out of my routine for a night.

It was also great to hear and feel the Christmas message although I’m so far from “home.”  After the service, we went to St. Mary’s (where we teach) for the annual choir concert.  Now, this isn’t just any choir concert.  I can say without a doubt that St. Mary’s (and Seisen, our sister school) put on the best high-school show I have ever seen.  It was done in the Midwestern choral tradition, much like what Rachael and I were fortunate enough to experience at Luther College.  (The choir directors at St. Mary’s are Concordia grads).

Singing the hymns and feeling just a tiny bit of the Christmas at Luther vibe was a welcome experience tonight, especially as I wait eagerly for Rachael to get back to Tokyo this week.  It’ll be different being away from home for Christmas for the first time and I’ll miss my family a great deal, but I’m also looking forward to it since this will probably be the only time we’ll ever celebrate the holidays this way.



  1. Brad,
    I’m glad you’re keeping busy and getting out while Rachael is in MN. I’m sure it’s hard being alone there and I commend you for not sulking. That’s my boy!! You will carry all your experiences of Japan with you for the rest of your life, so enjoy while you can. I love your positive thinking.

    Last night dad and I went to Foothills Bible Church and the entire service was the children’s musical. They did a tremendous job and both dad and I enjoyed it a lot. Made both of us remember when our boys were little and we went to watch their performances. Good memories.

    I keep trying to get into the Christmas spirit, but it’s hard this year. It will be nice having Blake here….at least I hope he’ll have either Christmas eve or day off work. Hopefully, next Christmas we can all be together. I miss going to Christmas Eve service with my boys…..that’s the one tradition I miss most… and me crying during the service!!


  2. We will definitely be able to come home next year, so that’s the plan. We can Skype Christmas a bit too…

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