I’ve been reading a book today by Michael Zielenziger, called ‘Shutting out the Sun: how Japan created its own lost generation’… Which is fascinating. Just fascinating.
It’s not a Christian book, and it’s more of a journalistic/sociological critique of Japanese culture, which specifically looks at the hikikomori phenomenon, alongside some other issues like the high suicide rates here, the love of brand culture, and the economic context. I’m about two thirds through the book at present, and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who is interested in these kinds of issues. Because it gives some really interesting viewpoints from Japanese professionals, young people and family members, and also presents some real ideological challenges about the Japanese society and it’s unique social problems.
However, what strikes you is the relative hopelessness of this writing. Maybe the last third will provide some hopeful analysis, but right now, if I was reading this as a non-Christian I would be despairing about the future of Japan. But reading it through Christian eyes spurs me to pray. And pray with hope. Actually, many of the observations in this book are not dissimilar from some of the things I’ve noticed myself through meetings and work, but I guess I reflect on these things from the perspective of hope in the transforming power of Jesus and His ability to transform what man cannot.
But Zielenziger also writes really interesting insights into three different projects that work to support hikikomori individuals. They have different focuses, from play to therapy, but the common themes seem to be rooted in the values of these projects and the genuine love and respect that the workers offer the most vulnerable individuals in society. And with that, I feel hope that if Christians begin to work in these fields in a greater way, then Jesus will call us to be His hands and feet, and Holy Spirit will heal individuals of this social phenomenon. Because He brings freedom.
Today, after a great breakfast, I also went to spend some time praying over Hamamatsu from the top of Act City. Check out these incredible views, and pray for the many thousands who do not know Jesus here:
And finally, this evening I was blessed by another incredible meal. The pudding is worthy of utmost respect. So I photographed it for your enjoyment! 🙂
So, another day which combines thought provoking research, with great food and great friendship.
More apologies, this blog post in so short because I have been watching photo shows with some of my new friends, two of who leave to go back to America tomorrow. These girls are an absolute blast. And an absolute blessing.
Let’s see what tomorrow will bring!