Kyoto Wednesday, Nov 18 2009 

I went there at the weekend, with ten friends from Yamanashi and twenty Brazilian-born Japanese from all around Japan. It was without question the most enjoyable weekend I’ve had in Japan, though my one regret is that I wasn’t able to attend Mass.

I took about 1000 photos, of which I considered 300 or so worth publishing. See them over at my Flickr page.

A continuing discussion on inculturation Sunday, Mar 8 2009 

On my previous post regarding inculturation, Guy Power left a comment¬†mentioning a couple of particularly interesting examples. When the Jesuits first began training (truly excellent) Japanese seminarians, they were wearing black kimono and hakama while living in recently abandoned Buddhist monasteries. The kimono/hakama were chosen as culturally acceptable modifications of the former Jesuit cassock and the abandoned monasteries were simply there, cheap, and suitable to community life. They were studying philosophy and theology in Japanese and Latin simultaneously, as well as undergoing the exercises. What became troublesome was the attitude of noble families to the asceticism and rigour of Jesuit life. (more…)

On the battering of “gods” Saturday, Feb 28 2009 

It is no surprise that the “Global Economic Crisis” (also pessimistically dubbed “Depression 2.0” has affected struggling Asian economies at least as severely as those of the West. What seems a little different, however, is the way ordinary Japanese have (like their American neighbours) turned to religion in difficult times.

Lost your job and looking for someone to punch up for causing the global financial crisis? A Japanese shrine offers down-on-their-luck visitors a chance to shake off the doldrums by hitting the “God of Poverty.”

The Bimbo Gami shrine is home to a wooden statue believed to be the poverty deity, a thin and filthy man who brings misfortune and impoverishment to the house it haunts. (Reuters)

Clearly some explanation will be necessary for those unfamiliar with traditional Japanese religion.¬† (more…)