By Nelson A. Barbarona SVD
Frater Nelson A. Barbarona is a Divine Word seminarian on his Overseas Training Program in Japan. He is from Bohol and has his own blog, Nelson’s Missionary Journey. ‘Frater’ is the Latin for ‘Brother’ and is the title used by SVD seminarians in vows.
Japan is a country of few Christians, particularly Catholics. As far as my little knowledge is concerned, Japan in its refusal to be conquered by the different religious orders, persecuted quite a number of religious missionaries and lay persons including the first Filipino Martyr, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. On 24 November last year 187 martyrs were beatified in Nagasaki City. Despite the persevering efforts of the religious missionaries to spread Christianity, most Japanese remained firm in their traditional belief, Shinto, which eventually became the national religion until Buddhism was introduced in the pre-war period. Today, although the system has changed, Shinto and Buddhism remain the dominant religions in the country. Temples and shrines are the hottest tourist attractions in the country especially in places rich in Japanese history and tradition. One famous religious tradition is the ‘matsuri’ or festival. There seems to be one somewhere or other in Japan throughout the year.