It's been a long time since I've visited this site.  Many things have changed.  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind in recent years, so I haven't had as much time to sit down and ponder the universe.

I live in Japan now - that's exciting!  After two years in China, I went back home for a bit, worked part-time at a call center for a bit (a terrible yet enlightening experience), and then after the notoriously long interview process finally landed a job in Japan teaching at a public high school.  (It's a government position, and I guess they're paranoid?)  It's already been a year and a half since I came here, and I've enjoyed it a lot. 

I think I've matured quite a bit, and I've made many friends.  It's cringe-y to think of how antisocial I used to be now that I'm in a much healthier headspace and just... you know, thriving as a stable adult.

...I've also met some crazies.  ...Well, I'm always meeting crazies.  But this time they were so nice, and yet so insane

A Buddhist cult tried to recruit me.

There was a knock on my door in the afternoon, but I thought it was the NHK man.  He's the guy who comes to collect money for the state TV channels, but I don't have a TV so I try to avoid him.  I discovered too late that a cult was out proselytizing in the neighborhood.

That night, I went out to get groceries from the neighborhood supermarket.  As I was walking past a convenience store, a middle-aged woman called out to me.  I had been listening to music, but I removed the earbuds because she looked so friendly and disarming.  I thought she might need help, perhaps directions, and I was ready to do my best even with my limited Japanese.

Nnnnnope.  It was a cult.  Like the Buddhist version of Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons.

Once I realized this, I tried to escape by saying "Oh, my Japanese is pretty bad!"  Nnnnnnope.  Her friend came over with a translation sheet!  So it was two nice neighborhood aunties chatting and gossiping and also talking about the end days in that cheerful, almost spritely tone, you know?

They believed that Buddha brought enlightenment to people (fairly standard), but he said his saving of the world would only last 2000 years (what?).  After that, humanity would be met with a period of disasters and would destroy itself unless another prophet was found and the people prayed salvation into existence!

That prophet was some Japanese monk from the 1200s.  Humanity was saved for a while once they found him.  However, natural disasters are on the rise again! (Apparently they don't understand global warming?)  WE MUST PRAY!

In the end, they wanted me to get into their car right then and there and run off to a Buddhist retreat where we would pray the natural disasters and foreign missile strikes away.  They honestly believed that the lotus sutra, when chanted by enough people with enough conviction, would manifest into some sort of protective energy dome that would save Japan from North Korean missiles.


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Comment by Frankie Dapper on November 22, 2018 at 8:37am

Kacie, do you think the absence of technology in the curriculum is by design? Has it been decided that early introduction of technology to children causes a setback in education?

As to missionaries those fuckers can't keep their nonsense to themselves. But i have a memory of how Japan killed early missionaries and considering how protective Japan is of its own culture it is surprising to me that missionaries are accepted now. 

As to why japan is less religious, no doubt those who fall victim to cults tend to be lost, alienated, disaffected and peculiarly vulnerable to manipulation. But if we remove that subset of the population how do we explain things?

Religion is syncretic. Humans are monkeys of imitation and assimilation and the influence of contemporary and prior lunacy is on display in any given religion. And that is probably true to a greater degree for major religions that were spread far and wide. Elements of paganism were incorporated. It was easier to convert outsiders by preserving a bit of the old. 

Maybe there is a rejection of the west and celebration of Japan that helps to explain matters.  Shintoism is perhaps a form of religion (like you say, more chill) which lends itself to a dose of modernity that weakens the credulity of Japanese.  idk...interesting topic.

Comment by Loren Miller on November 22, 2018 at 5:43am

Apparently even in Japan, P. T. Barnum's axiom remains in force.  That's a shame.

Comment by Kacie Tsao on November 22, 2018 at 12:58am

Hi Joan!  I think some of these cults took ideas from Christianity and mixed them in to make a more compelling story.  Of course, they'll be quick to say that Japan was faithless during the war - the emperor at the time invoked the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu as the reason for conquering the world, and that's not the right thing to do!  Now we must unite under Buddhism and chant with all our might!

As for my logo, do you mean the brown blob?  That's my pet rabbit sleeping.

Comment by Kacie Tsao on November 22, 2018 at 12:51am

Frankie - I've found that everyday life in Japan is very different from how the country is perceived by others.  For example, Japan has an image of being a high-tech country.  However, most schools are still using technology from the 80s or 90s.  Computers are almost never used in lessons, and many students don't learn how to make a basic PowerPoint presentation until college.

Cults are a common thing here.  Just recently, the leader of Aum Shinrikyo was executed.  That's a cult that set off nerve gas in the Tokyo subways in the 90s.  My friends and I also warn each other when Jehovah's Witnesses have been spotted in the neighborhood.  Yeah, they're here too.

My guess is that, since the majority of Japanese people either aren't religious or aren't serious about their religion, there's a lot of room for missionaries (or home-grown crazies) to spread their beliefs to the weak and suffering.  After all, they're not less religious because they have better education or better critical thinking skills.  (Oh man, critical thinking is NOT taught in schools at all!)  No, they're less religious just... because history.  Because Asian religions tend to be highly syncretic and usually more chill than the Abrahamic murder-cults.  It makes them prime targets for proselytizers.

Regarding crazy mythology, it would be really hard to find something no one would believe in.  I'm sure if we found a charismatic leader and some really gullible people, we could form a dog shit religion.  The major world religions all have really weird stuff in the scriptures.  They're no better than most fringe cults, except as they've grown, more adherents have started to feel free to cherry pick and talk about how "it's just a metaphor".

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 22, 2018 at 12:36am

Good grief! It sounds like a familiar refrain with a Buddhist twang! I hope they didn't follow you home! I seem to remember that their lotus sutra didn't protect Hiroshima from the bomb. 

You have an interesting logo. Can you clarify it for me? 

Comment by Frankie Dapper on November 22, 2018 at 12:16am

Kacie, i don't know why it surprises me that you would be accosted in Japan. Humans are gullible the world over but for a cult to proselytize in plain view in that nation is somehow a surprise to me.

Just this morn i pondered the issue of whether we ought distinguish degrees of religious/cult mythology or whether any religion/cult in which faith is sine qua non are laughable to the same extent. 

Is it even possible to draft a mythology that is so far-out and lacking in credibility that adherents would be impossible to find? Lets posit the following: the fate of our species depends on consuming and smearing dog shit. Dog shit contains the fecal matter of the holy bitch and the barking shark who was transformed into a serpent assuming the form of a snake when in its intransigence it refused to partake of the holy dog shit. All such sinners can expect to be cast out of the fold and suffer the slings and arrows of the capricious alpha dog who in his mysterious ways will punish naysayers, wrongdoers (whose bark is too shrill) and of course those who will not eat or smear dog shit. 

Me tired...probably no making sense but u get the point



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