Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Won't Miss #406 - proselytizers outside of shrines

I've said before that the Japanese aren't particularly religious, though they do go through the motions (visiting shrines and temples, praying, etc.) a lot for a non-religious people, and they aren't uptight about religion and tend to ignore proselytizers. During New Year's holidays, Christians stand in front of the entrance of Meiji shrine, the most popular shrine for hatsumode (first prayer of the new year) in Tokyo, and encourage people to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. The Japanese aren't really bothered by this, but as a person from an overwhelmingly Christian nation, I find it disrespectful. During Japan's most important religious holiday in front of their capital's most popular site, they try to convert people. This is tantamount to Hare Krishna's or Moslems standing outside of a church on Christmas trying to persuade Christians to change religions as they go in for services. My guess is that they wouldn't put up with it, yet they don't see anything wrong with doing this to the Japanese. I don't mind that they do it in crowded places like train stations, but in front of shrines seems just wrong, especially at such a special time of year.

I won't miss seeing proselytizers shamelessly trying to convert the natives to their religion in front of Japanese religious structures. It doesn't bother the Japanese, but it bothers me because it has more than a whiff of hypocrisy.