How to escape a Japanese Gideon... Japanese approach - bow slightly, accept his pamphlet, and say "arigatou gozaimasu" Liberal American approach - yell loudly about his intention to subject others to his beliefs, rather than letting them discover everything on their own path Scary foreigner approach - chew and swallow the paper without a word - he'll never bother you again
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Japan, and the Gideons are swarming about like locusts. Amazing, I would have thought that would be one thing I'd be guaranteed to escape in Japan...
Walking down Hondori Street in Hiroshima, I had a foreign looking man step directly into my path and ask loudly, "Do you speak English?" Not wanting to give anything away, I accepted the paper he was offering (it might have been a free coupon, for all I knew) and continued to walk. He pursued, which was somewhat unusual.
"Have you considered letting Jesus into your life?"
At this point the wear and tear of climbing a mountain earlier in the day really took its toll - here I was, a foreigner in a prime opportunity to stick it to all missionaries by providing a nice international retort... yet, that didn't happen this time. I continued walking and pretended he was something loathsome. Instead, I should have said, "I live in Japan, buddy; I have a hard enough time letting natto into my stomach. Baka."
Nevertheless, despite my hatred for Gideons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and everything they stand for (well, not the beliefs, just the fact that they believe they need to "sell" them), Japan is starting to look a lot more Christmasy. Right after Halloween the ad campaign began.
Japan is primarly a Buddhist society, though it is relatively religiously diverse. But Christmas, like Halloween, means absolutely nothing to a Japanese person. It's just a holiday, like any other. Another excuse to party. An excuse to buy expensive gifts. An excuse to decorate. I would say this is true for many Christians as well, but why even bring the holiday to Japan?
The answer... is simply taking advantage of a consumer society. Give them a symbol, an image to work around. Christmas will do. Halloween will as well. I may be writing an in-depth article on this for Fukuoka Now, so I'll hold off on major details. Nevertheless, Japan is exploiting Christmas, as it exploits so many foreign ideas.
The day I ran the Peace Marathon in Hiroshima was a national holiday - Culture Day (文化の日). Read more about it here.