Giving you a little view of Japan without leaving your home!

Prayer letters, curious subjects, events, people, customs, and more for you to enjoy and learn.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Babies in Japan


According to the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, an average of 2,935 babies were born each day last year (2011) in Japan.

Of the births that occurred on Oct 31, 2011 – the day the world's population topped 7 billion – many were to parents who had suffered as a result of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis.

Many of the parents placed their hopes for a better future in the new lives. Some hoped their child would symbolize recovery, while others said they wanted their child to be a compassionate person.

Yoshimi Kawamura, 27, gave birth to a 3.46 kg girl at about 6:30 a.m. at a hospital in Ishinomaki, a city hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and where Japan Mission is helping with outreach. She wants her daughter to grow up into a healthy adult and to represent a sign of recovery to their hometown.

“It's a gloomy year with the disaster, but it also became a happy year for us,” Eiko, another mother said with a smile. “The birth of our baby gives us an unforgettable memory.”

“This birth is memorable as it occurred on the day the world population surpassed 7 billion. I want my baby to become a sympathetic person who helps people in difficulties,” Shigemichi said. "I consider my new baby a miracle,” Kuwana said of her baby.

Source: Yomiuri News 2011-11-01

 The most unfathomably wonderful birth ever on earth was when God’s Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords took on human flesh!

 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hope still for today?

I am a grandmother--there were other parents and grandmothers and grandfathers involved in the horrible killing on this December day who now only have memories for this Christmas instead of special small ones to hold close and dear.  Mine aren't close but at least I know others who will be able to hold them close. Those powerful guns didn't kill those dear children and wonderful staff; the blackened heart (by what we do not know) led to inanimate objects being used for bad by a very living human being.  Does that make all guns bad? Does that make all human beings bad?  No it does not.  But the only thing that can make a bad heart right and PROBABLY not resort to senseless works of darkness is through the Spirit of God who can dwell in our hearts to take away the 'night' and turn it into day...I read a saying online a few moments ago--Christ was born in the night--his parents met him in the dark; they dwelt amongst hard dark times as well (the ruler was seeking to kill all babies and children 2 and under).  Christ was born to change dark into light.  As we pray for these hurting families and for hurting hearts of those that now might live in fear--let us remember the ruler of light is Jesus Christ and through Him is all darkness taken away.  Be a shining light this Christmas if you know Christ; and if you don't--you can KNOW Him. 

1Timothy 1:15  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 

I trust the parents and grandparents of the families involved will be comforted and helped during their dark days. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Natto--purifying bacteria


Natto is fermented soy beans. The beans are boiled, wrapped in straw and left to ferment for several days. They have vitamins, fiber and protein and thus are a good source of nutrition.
Natto dates back at least 1000 years and eventually became a favorite of people living in Edo, the capital city of Japan at that time.
People sold natto basically door-to-door. Some people added it to miso, others added minced onions and soy sauce and then poured the entire mixture over  hot rice. It's cheap and has a rather strong odor.
Natto is sometimes used as a breakfast food, mixed with beaten raw egg and soy sauce, then poured over steaming hot rice. Natto is definitely not a favorite of non-Japanese, though, and even many Japanese do not care for it.
 But there is more:
Big Bio Co. in Fukuoka started to make porous concrete blocks with natto bacteria (Bacillus subtilis natto). Beneficial bacteria, the ‘subtilis natto group’, are encapsulated into blocks made of porous rocks which can then degrade and eliminate ammonia and organic substances that pollute water.
The blocks were placed in a fish tank and within a week the green algae was gone. One tank’s water was not changed for eight years and remained clear of all algae thanks to the beneficial bacteria. Indeed an interesting use of natto
The beneficial bacterium flourishes in both fresh and salt water. Laying down EcoBio-Blocks in murky rivers or lakes results in cleaner water without causing any overload to the environment.
A string of orders for the EcoBio-Block are coming in from around the world. The company has developed a wide range of EcoBio-Block products such as the little EcoBio-Ring made to remove bad odors and slime typical to home aquariums.

God goes one step further--He can take away all the impurities in our life --take care of inner contamination through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ--all we have to do is believe that He is God and ask Him to take away our sins and repent of those sins! He is just and forgives us of all unrighteousness it says in Romans 4:5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The opposite result if we do not accept His gift of 'cleansing'--2 Thessalonians 2:10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.   

How about you? You can receive the gift of salvation and have all your impurities washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ!!  He waits for you! All you have to do is call on Him!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

November 2012 Newsletter and Thanksgiving Photos

Dear Praying Friends,                                                                                   November 2012

Genesis 50:19, 20 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

   We recently celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be upon us.  Too often we get so wrapped up in the business of the season to reflect on how or if we are truly putting into practice the great truths of these holidays by thanking and trusting God for the things, both good and bad, in our lives.  Joseph is a great example for us in the Bible of how we need to look at those events and people which cause trouble in our lives.  Joseph trusted the living God's will for his live despite betrayal by his family, false charges and unthankfulness for his goodness to them.  Joseph had more cause than most of us to be bitter and revengeful.   He even had it in his power to really get back at those that hurt him.  Yet, because he chose to trust in the living God and forgive and bless those who despitefully used him, God blessed Joseph.  Let us not spoil this most precious time of year with any bitterness or unforgiveness.  Let us show the world the love and trust of the Lord Jesus Christ in all our relationships.
   November brought winter quickly this year and we have already begun to be thankful for safety on winter roads.  This included two trips to Asahikawa (4 hrs away in winter time). The first was for Ken to go back into the hospital on the 6th of November for endoscopic surgery which went without any hitches and he was discharged by Friday of that same week. Vicki took him down, came back home, and then went back and got him when he got out.  He had his follow-up on the 29th and all seems to be well although his white blood count was up so they gave him antibiotics and in January he will have an x-ray done.  Ken especially had an opportunity to witness to a junior high boy that was in his room this time besides handing out verse cards and tracts.  This young man seemed to be fairly open so we trust all that was said and done will continue to work in his life for the timing God has to continue and water and harvest those seeds through others. 

   We were also thankful for safety in travel for the northern Hokkaido missionaries and families as we gathered here for our annual Thanksgiving Day celebration.  We had 34 of us this year! The fellas were thankful for the snow that fell that day to make their annual touch football game a real treat and the girls enjoyed watching and then attacking them all with snowballs!  This is a real day of respite from our busy schedules and a time of wonderful food prepared by the ladies but also a great opportunity to thank the Lord for His provisions and goodness to us.  We also get to enjoy a play put on by all the children and young people.  Beings they skipped last year due to the plan of the play needing some work we really enjoyed seeing their 'production' this year.  They put on various themes of interest from America's history. All the lines were well memorized and all the hand-made costumes really special! (see photos below)  

The day after the get-together we were to be the judges at a yearly junior high speech contest about 2 1/2 hrs south of here.  We traveled that direction for about 20 minutes but quickly knew this was not going to be a road to travel that day.  The roads were all just ice rinks and coming back would have been worse for it would have been after dark.  When we called to tell them we had decided to return home they completely understood and said it was a blizzard down there as well.  They were able to substitute judges fairly quickly by using a couple of the assistant English teachers in the area.  We also suggested maybe next year it could be a little earlier in November to avoid this kind of weather.  We were disappointed at not being able to hand out the English John-Romans and tracts we had prepared for the contestants but know the Lord is in all our stops and goes, so accept that plan from Him!

Hitomi Tsuzuki has to go to Sapporo yet every weekend for her rehabilitation on her knee but started coming back to the evening service!! What a blessing that was and she indicated that she trusts to keep it going this way. One or the other of her parents has been traveling back with her to help her out at home but now she is able to get about home carefully w/o her crutches so she will be more on her own. One week this month we invited her and her mother to come for supper.  Mrs. Tsuzuki told Hitomi that she was both nervous and looking forward to the evening. Hitomi told us later the next week that after they returned home her mother didn't stop talking about the evening for about an hour and a half and we got a very nice thank you note from Mrs. Tsuzuki.  We are praying that this type of communication will continue to break down fear barriers and allow Hitomi to come to a complete trust in Christ as her Savior soon! 

   Now we continue to prepare for our Christmas program outreach on the 23rd of December. There have been many that have come year after year but still are not interested in studying further...may this be the year that they listen to the Spirit move in their hearts to yearn to learn more! Weather can also keep some away as well as the fact it is a 3 day weekend. So we trust the Lord to draw out whom He will and we serve whether few or many! May God bless your outreaches during this special season and don't forget to keep Christ in CHRISTmas!

 Prayer Requests:
1.      Families of believers to be saved and baptism of believers
2.      Health of Mrs. Sonoda-she never knows if she is going to have a hard day or calm day—dizziness; discomfort
3.      Bible study with Hitomi Tsuzuki-her salvation; rehab and healing of her knee
4.      New inroads to be found into people’s lives and hearts; Mr. Moriyama, Miss Emi, Filipino ladies, Town folk
5.      Yen/dollar values
6.      Ken’s surgery and passing of stones; witnessing opportunities—new verse cards to hand out all completed!
7.      Wisdom as we continue the Christmas program evangelism preparation and hand out fliers

Serving Christ Together,    
Ken & Vicki Mansell           Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!

thanksgiving photos: 
 Smith ladies and Elizabeth Hall, ALT
 hungry young men filling up!
Malachi Minks, Josiah Wilhite, Timothy Mather, Malachi Wilhite
 Enjoy fellowship and food

 Ladies prepared wonderful food!

 Men's table
 Play scenes (Kristen Smith is narrator)

 The Audience
 Smith ladies helping with decorations
 Sarah Mather and Victoria Minks

 Vicki and Tanya Minks
 Victoria Minks, Hannah Mather, Kristen Smith
 Wilhite Twins so ready to eat!

 Zeb Minks!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Man Pillow--who would have thought!

NAGAREYAMA, Japan — After a long night at work as a radio DJ, Junko Suzuki likes to snuggle at bedtime — and she says she's found the perfect partner: a man-shaped pillow. 

Linen maker Kameo's new "Boyfriend's Arm Pillow" — which consists of a headless torso and a stuffed arm that curls around the sleeper — might make some people uneasy. But not Suzuki, or about 1,000 others in Japan who have bought the pillow, which Kameo says is the first of its kind. The product went on the market last December.
"I like to sleep holding someone's hand," Suzuki, 34. "And this pillow makes me feel relaxed because I can hold the arm and feel something warm at my side."
Kameo, based in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka, says the pillow is not only an emotional comfort, but that its shape keeps the body balanced by supporting the sleeper from both sides.
Sleepers typically curl up in between the body of the pillow and the crooked arm, with the sleeper's head resting on the pillow's "bicep."
"My grandmother used to say that there is nothing more comfortable pillow than a human," said Kameo President Tomoki Kakehashi. "So, I thought that maybe women would want to sleep on an arm-shaped pillow."
The pillow is only on sale in Japan, where customers can buy one for US$80 (Japanese Yen 8,500). Covered in a shirt-shaped pillow cover, it comes in blue, pink or green. For Suzuki, who is estranged from her husband, the pillow has definite advantages: It doesn't squirm or thrash in the night, and you know it'll be there in the morning. "It keeps holding me all the way through," she said in her home outside of Tokyo. "I think this is great because this does not betray me."   (

Need a good night's rest and need someone by your side--this may be the answer... have the need of someone by your side all the time and the Lord is ready--never leaves or forsakes--and fills all the  needs we have!  Don't just take comfort for a few night hours but get eternal salvation and round the clock comfort of God by your side and the Word to fill the heart!

Matthew 11:28-30 - Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

Hebrew 13:5 -...for he (Christ) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Respect for the Aged

Schools in Japan are beginning to introduce classes to help children deepen their understanding of elderly nursing care-related issues, such as Arthritis and Alzheimer's. Such classes take place at primary-, middle- and high schools across the nation. Children gather in the gym to get hands-on lessons to understand the physical and mental disabilities that afflict the elderly.

With one of their legs wrapped in a cardboard tube, children try to walk, which brings out complaints such as, ‘It is so hard to walk’ or ‘I'm going to fall!’ The cardboard tubes are meant to help the children experience leg disabilities similar to the elderly who suffer joint pains.

To demonstrate hand disabilities, the children try to scoop up ‘go’ stones with a spoon and remove change from a wallet while wearing stockings over their hands.

“I now get how hard it is for elderly people. When I see elderly people who need help, I'll try to give them a hand,” says Ayano Yokoi, one of the students.

School textbooks explain how dementia develops and how to communicate with a person suffering from it, as well as providing basic knowledge about its symptoms.

“Learning about dementia also gives children, who are sensitive, an opportunity to think about the dignity of life,” says Hiroko Sugawara, secretary of General Education.
Source: Yomiuri News 2010-08-10

Please show honor and respect especially to the elderly!

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;  The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. I Timothy 5:1,2

Respect our elders, learn from our elders--they have much to share! Are we willing to listen and learn? Do we teach our children to do the same?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1000 year old Delicacy

Did you know there is a Kamaboko Day?! November 15 isn't a national holiday here in Japan, but it's an auspicious day nonetheless for the specialty, Kamaboko that finds itself on the table of just about every Japanese home.

Kamaboko is made from steamed white fish mashed into a paste, seasoned and shaped to form a small white loaf. The fish used depends on the area -- whether deep-water herring or Japanese bluefish. Kamaboko has a springy, crunchy and supple texture and the fish-based ingredients delight the palate. Kamaboko is as rich in protein as eggs. Since it is made from the highest quality fresh fish, with no preservatives added, and is low in calories and fat, Kamaboko is quickly becoming a popular health food.

“Even though we may perform all the necessary skills properly, the process still takes 15 years to master,” explains Katsuo Saga, the firm’s veteran kamaboko maker. “I'm sure we will continue to enjoy the traditional flavor of kamaboko much as the nobles did almost 1,000 years ago”.

Japanese enjoy Kamaboko very much, but how we long for them to rather desire the delicacies of heaven! 

 ...To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.  Revelation 2:7

God has prepared for us who have received Him, a banquet from the Tree-of-Life out of his own orchard.

Let us overcome with the help of Jesus who died for us and look forward to the banquet table of heaven!

We trust you know Christ too!  Feasting on His Word every day will be the daily strength giver for following Him.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Helping the Blind to "See"

Guidance systems for the visually impaired to traverse crowded city streets with ease and safety have been at work for many years in Japan. On the left side of the sidewalks are raised striped and dotted tiles, easily ‘read’ through the feet of those visually impaired as they walk on them. Other conventional facilities such as Braille blocks and voice signals also provide guides to the visually impaired.

Nowadays, safer and more accurate systems have been achieved through the development of ‘intelligent’ sidewalks and ‘talking’ walking sticks.

In Fukuoka City, on their ‘intelligent’ sidewalks for the visually impaired, they use a special walking stick, equipped with a magnetic sensor. The user touches the sidewalk where the magnetic labels (ferrite) have been laid and signals are then delivered enabling him/her to walk safely along the sidewalk. It also provides messages such as, “This is Tenjin 1-chome, turn left and you will head for Fukuoka City Hall” from a loudspeaker embedded under the sidewalk at a point where an antenna is buried.

In Sendai City, the visually impaired use small transmitters and sensors. They are informed vocally of their location and direction by the use of a sensor attached to their walking sticks, and a card-sized buzzer or receiver system with a small transmitter.

In Yamaguchi Prefecture, the visually impaired are detected automatically, and their directions determined through reflective tapes and infrared sensors attached to their walking sticks. At each diverging point the visually impaired are automatically informed vocally and along Braille blocks as to their location and direction.

Source: Japan Newspapers

There are many spiritually blind people groping around in utter darkness!
 In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor. 4:4

Satan is the god of darkness -- there is no light in him and he cannot give light to any man! He is a master of keeping his followers in a world of utter gloom and the blackest of nights!
In Luke 6:39 Jesus said, "...Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? "

If you desire to walk in brilliant light, Christ gives marvelous sight and insight! After Jesus made a blind man to see "He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. " John 9:25

Even the blind can "see" when they are in Christ.  Even those blind in sin can "see" and walk in marvelous light when Christ indwells them!  Don't you want to truly see? Just ask God to take away your sin!  And He will take the blindness that Satan puts in our hearts away!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

September 2012 Newsletter

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it.                                                Luke 5:13     
Jesus used this parable to teach the hypocritical and self righteous Pharisees (verse 2) the value God places on each person's soul and need for salvation.  To a shepherd, each sheep is important.  Even though this man still had 99 sheep, he went looking for the one that was lost.  In verse seven Jesus interprets this parable: Lu 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.  So it behooves us to take the same attitude as our dear Saviour.  Yes, we need to rejoice in, care for and enjoy the fellowship of the 99 who are safely in the fold of the local church.  But there are those who are not saved yet.  There are those who have left that need to be brought back.  There are no lost causes in God's mind.  May we have our Lord's mind in this, too.  Let us seek the Lost!

  Fall is here and in beautiful colors…somewhere! But we are thankful for the seasons that help us also remember our God is in control!  And we are having a beautiful fall. We can still be outside and it has allowed Ken the opportunity to get all the winterizing done that needs to be completed. The men finally came to discuss the final process of getting the roof back on our carport/veranda.  We are thankful for their willingness to work with his designs and ideas while at the same time giving their own advice. The long and short of it—we will need to just temporarily fix something over the walkway to the house where the snow will come off the roof. Then next spring they will come in and finish the new roof design. There isn’t enough time on their list of things (from other places as well) to get it all done right before snow falls. God knows and we will work with the plan.
  Hitomi Tsuzuki came through her knee surgery well and is still in the hospital with daily rehabilitation.  It will probably be a month long stay and that’s just the way it is here in Japan. Her parents live an hour from the hospital so eventually she will continue rehab by commute from there but they wanted her to be doing it daily right now until she gets to walking with some ease again. We made the 5 hr. trip to see her the day after the surgery. As a result of her father coming here to Teshio to pick her up and her mother being at the hospital when we went, we have now met both parents and we trust that opens doors to making the decision to openly ask Christ to be her Saviour. We know family ties have held her in place—they are an extremely close family.  We also pray it opens doors with her parents and they have more peace about who their daughter is associating with.  We have to make an official business trip to the same city in October (18th) so will try to see her again, then.  We are in constant contact with her via email to her cell phone.
  Vicki took a 3-day trip with a long time friend of the ladies chorus Vicki is president for.  This is always an opportunity for more witnessing and she also enjoys the area of Hokkaido she gets to see for the first time with these travels. The fall colors weren’t quite in bloom yet but still enjoyed some hiking in a forest with falls, a wood arts craft place and beautiful scenery as they drove.  Mrs. Kuwata comes to our Christmas program every year and allows Vicki to pray out loud for safety, etc when they are together. Her heart, though, seems to get more closed to even the ‘need’ for change in her life. She has always been healthy and happy so figures her gods are good enough. We know God can still show her the way and pray that we will be sensitive to that opportunity when it comes.
  Masataka Moriyama (age 30) has still been coming on Sundays he doesn’t to work.  We trust this will continue.  We are not sure how much he understands of the preaching yet but glad that we can leave that need to the Holy Spirit. In time, we can ask more questions of what is going on in his mind.
  Ken has to have a laser endoscopic surgery for some small kidney stones that have made it to the bladder but are too big to be passed otherwise.  This was just discovered and is not a situation to leave for possible further complications. There will be a few day (3-5) hospitalization attached beings we live so far away.  It will take place the last of October or first part of November. Thank you for praying that they can get the stones small enough to pass.  He is looking forward to this next round of hospitalization evangelism!!

Prayer Requests:
1.       Families of believers to be saved
2.       Baptism of believers
3.  Health of Mrs. Sonoda-she never knows if she is going to have a hard day or calm day—dizziness; discomfort
4.       Bible study with Miss Tsuzuki; healing of her knee
5.       New inroads to be found into people’s lives and hearts
6.       Yen/dollar values
7.       Ken’s surgery and passing of stones; witnessing opportunities
8.       Wisdom as we begin preparing for Christmas program evangelism

Serving Christ Together,    
Ken & Vicki Mansell                
Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!

Beautiful Island of Hokkaido