I gathered three things in my visit to Japan last week. The first is the incredible honesty and politeness of Japanese society. I asked Miki, my Japanese sister-in-law, if it was a put-on. How could people continue to show such respect and civility to each other and to foreigners even as they faced their own personal and family problems? “They’re taught to do that from young and not to burden other people,” was her reply. If ever I bumped into someone, he would bow and apologize first even if it was my fault. Neither do they litter the streets; there are no rubbish bins. You bring your waste home. When one of our friends lost his mobile on the bullet train to Osaka and got it back the next day, intact and fully charged, his conversion to Japan was complete.
I said to Miki, does Japan need the gospel? Here was a society that did not loot or steal when earthquakes hit, who overcome disasters like typhoons with fierce unity, and who look after their environment with pride. “Yes, they do,” was her reply. Behind all these are the deep needs of the human soul for meaning, love and hope. In the philosophy behind Zen Buddhism, life in this world is but an illusion. “If they know Jesus, think how incredible Japanese Christians would be!” was her reply. Indeed! I could not disagree.
The second thing I learned was that you need to go outside Tokyo and the cities to see the stunning beauty of Japan. We spent a short weekend in Hakone by the lake and a view of Mount Fuji. For me, it surpassed the Lake district in Britain. Experiencing the “Onsen” hot spring bath was out of this world. Thirdly, I learnt what great hosts they were. Even when their team was not in the world cup rugby finals, they packed out the stadium to cheer both teams! While I am an admirer of Eddie Jones the England coach, I cheered for the Boks. It was an unforgettable evening in Yokohama. They won!
上个星期，我去日本旅游时得着了三件事。第一件就是日本社会的诚恳和礼仪。我问美琪 (Miki)，我那位日本籍的嫂子，这些是否只是他们在人前所戴上的面具而已。他们到底是如何能够在充满个人与家庭挑战的情况下持续以恭敬的态度去对待每个人呢？她回道：“他们从小就被教育不要成为别人的累赘。”若我在那里不小心碰撞到别人，即使是我的不对，他们都还是会先开口道歉。即使周围没有垃圾桶，他们也不会随地丢垃圾，而是把垃圾带回各自家中处理。当我们的旅伴在去往大往阪城 (Osaka) 的高铁里遗留了钱包，并在第二天便完整不损地把它给领回时，他就完全被日本给征服了。
我在那里学习到的第二件事就是，我们必须要走出东京 (Tokyo) 才能够观赏日本的美景。我们在箱根 (Hakone) 的 一个能观赏富士山 (Mount Fuji) 的湖边逗留了一个周末。对我而言，它超越了英国的湖区。在那儿体验的温泉浴 (Onsen) 真的棒极了。第三件得着的就是，他们是非常棒的主人家。即使他们的国家球队没有入围橄榄球世界杯的决赛，他们还是挤满了体育场，为两队加油！虽然我非常崇拜英格兰教练 – 埃迪·琼斯 (Eddie Jones)，但与此同时我亦为南非博克斯队 (Boks) 加油打气。那一天, 我真是在横滨 (Yokohama) 度过了一个难忘的傍晚。他们赢了！
Ps Dr Philip Lyn 医生牧师