The most frightening sight I've ever been confronted with in Japan is this:
Two women of a certain age walking towards me, wearing modest skirts, beige hose, sensible shoes, and carrying large handbags...
Yes, the Jehovah's Witnesses have made converts of a few Japanese as well, and they go door to door, handing out the same tracts they do everywhere else. Are they some sort of cosmological constant?
I say this in spite of the fact that I have a Japanese friend who is a Witness. She lived in Texas (where her married daughter lives still with the grandchildren), so she speaks English well. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why she gets sent to canvass certain areas, so they don't have to walk away from a household where no Japanese is spoken. Since she and I have experiences in common, it's always mutually agreeable to converse about those and any of several interests we share. She is extraordinarily generous and kind--she never stops by without some herbs from her garden, or some hydrangeas, or a couple of lemons from her tree. Or tracts. And that's the thing--I consider her a friend, whether we agree on religious issues or not. But the reverse, I think, is not true. I'm fairly certain that she's been told to stick to her script and not get too friendly with a non-witness who doesn't appear to want to convert, or even discuss the bible much. I wonder whether she sees how divisive that attitude really is.
A post over at The Atheist Rabbi brought this into my mind all of a sudden. He put up a YouTube video of a Life of Brian scene that I hadn't seen in ages. One of my favorites from that film, in fact, and one that reminds me of my Witness friend who lectured me from the Witness book "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" about how we're all supposed to run around using the Lord's name! Some industrious Witness had in fact counted the number of times in the Hebrew Bible the Tetragrammaton appears ("nearly 7,000 times!"). When she got to that bit, I chewed my lip, kept my peace, and let this scene run through my head:
So, bad news if you were thinking of emigrating to Japan to escape the Mormons (yup--they're here, too) and the Jehovah's Witnesses. But I can tell you how to identify them from a distance without binoculars...:))