Years ago, Samurai were elite warriors, both respected and feared among the common people. People could tell what clan the samurai was born into, and thereby loyal to, by his armor. Samurai generally followed Buddhism and Confucianism. Inner peace and loyalty were crucial character traits. They were expected to be wholly devoted to their fuedal lord. If a battle was lost or dishonor or disloyalty somehow shown to the name of the clan, many Samurai experienced great shame and a loss of identity. They not only shamed the people living, but also their ancestors. If the shame was severe enough, they would commit suicide.
The constructs of loyalty, honor, and shame still permeate Japanese culture today. When a Japanese person repents of his sin and asks Christ to be his Savior, he finds himself to be at odds with dominant culture. Before becoming a Christian, he was loyal to his family and honored his ancestors by part in rites and rituals, and by praying at temples, shrines, and altars in the home. He brought honor, not shame, to his family by working hard, not causing trouble, and by following cultural norms.
But once he becomes a Christian...
He can no longer take part in those rites & rituals.
He can no longer pray at temples, shrines, and altars.
He can no longer fully participate in festivals or some family events because many of them are rooted in Buddhist or Shinto tradition.
He brings shame and dishonor to his family because he isn't taking care of his ancestors through prayer and offerings.
He brings shame and dishonor to his family because he doesn't follow cultural norms that are opposed to Scripture.
He is no longer loyal to culture, but to the Creator and Redeemer of his soul.
He may still be a hard worker, but now, it is to glorify God rather than self, because he fears God & not man. Inner peace is found through Christ’s defeat of death,
knowing that he is reconciled to the Savior and no longer condemned in his sin.
When he becomes baptized, he further identifies himself as a Christian. In the general population, Christianity is a western religion, so when somebody becomes reconciled to God, they (in others' eyes) lose some of their Japanese-ness. Many Japanese, upon being baptized, find themselves shunned by their family and friends.
Becoming a Christian changes everything.
It is our prayer and desire that people see who we belong to and are loyal to by our lives. Please pray for Japanese Christians as they learn how to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Savior, and as they learn to increasingly find their identity and worth in Him.
**Izumi has an authentic Samurai village in it! Check out this video!**