A funny thing happened last week. One of the communities that we’re part of here, a deaf signing group, went on an outing. The plan was to visit a deaf school, walk from there down the hill through a temple to view the autumn leaves, and catch the bus home from the bottom of the hill. Because of having Caitlin with us, we came by car, which messed everyone up. (Rule one of Japan: Don’t be different.) So the group leader, being a good Japanese leader and so knowing that the most important thing is to keep the group together, did something very clever.
Once we finished looking around the school, she said, “Right, everyone. We’ll finish our outing together here, but of course anyone who wants to walk through the temple may do so.” Of course, everyone apart from us did. But by making sure we all started and (at least officially) finished the outing together, she made sure that, even though we were doing something different, we weren’t treated any differently from the rest of the group.
Because excluding someone from what everyone else is doing is pretty much the rudest thing you can possibly do in Japan. Fukuda says “many Japanese activities can be explained by the following fundamental proposition: Japanese people have a latent phobia of isolation… Japanese people have a fear of death, but much greater than death, they have a fear of ostracism.”
Incidentally, tomorrow we have our house church meeting and we’re going to try introducing Communion. Not everyone is a Christian. So what do you do?