Japan holds a very interesting relationship with outsiders, especially with religion. Buddhism and Shintoism are the prominent faiths in Japan, with just under 2% of Japanese people considering themselves Christian or Catholic. Despite this, it is fairly common to see Christian Universities and churches throughout the bigger cities in Japan.
Christianity was first introduced to the people of Nagasaki in 1549 through Portuguese Catholics, and under the reign of Oda Nobunaga these Jesuits were allowed to live peacefully and expose their faith to anyone willing to listen. However when the power shifted to the Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Shogunate they saw these foreigners as trying to upset people's lives and disrupt Japanese culture.
Studying and spreading Christianity and Catholicism was met lethally under their reign. Christians were forced to renounce their faith yet some remained secretly committed known as ‘Hidden Christians’, even going as far as hiding crucifixes in shrines and buildings. In 1871, after the Meiji Restoration, Christianity was again legal and recognized by the government.
If you are Christian and traveling through Japan, I would encourage you to stop by a church. It will give you a truly unique experience and insight into things most Christians at home take for granted. Most of the newer, progressive Christian churches offer international services. Here are a few:
1. His Call Nagoya, Tokyo, Toyota and Mie
His Call Church is happy, fun and full of dreams. It is my home church here in Nagoya, and is an international church offering services in worship in both English and Japanese. It is rapidly growing and has a vision of planting 10 churches in 10 years. So far we have planted 4 and will soon open an accredited Bible College here in Nagoya.
2. Mustard Seed Osaka and Nagoya
Mustard Seed is another popular international church here in Nagoya. It offers international services and worship.
3. Lifehouse Tokyo, Saitama, Yokohama, Atsugi, Shonan, Yokosuka, Osaka, Kobe, Tennoji, Sapporo, Sendai, and Fukuoka
Lifehouse Tokyo is one of the biggest churches in Japan. They are located in 10 different cities in Japan, and I would love to check out any one of their three Tokyo campuses, or their international locations in Bali, Hong Kong, Taipei, China and Hawaii.
4. Hope Church, Chiba, Tokyo
Hope Church is an international and multi-generational church Pastored by Steven and Shelley Kaylor. Having grown up on Japan, Pastor Steven delivers powerful messages in both Japanese and English.
5. Shinsei no Sato Christian Church, Omura, Nagasaki
Shinsei no Sato is a smaller church located in Omura, near Nagasaki. Pastor Jack and Cathy Garrot have worked hard to impact the area around Nagasaki, and return it to being one of the Christian areas in Japan. This church is homey, loving and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.